John O'Connor illustration
McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor

We often hear about one of senior living’s most pressing concerns: finding and keeping new leaders. But when all is said and done, more is usually said than done.

So, it was quite refreshing when some actionable stuff was revealed this week in Indianapolis. That’s where the Vision Centre Symposium took place. Here are six practical solutions that emerged, along with practical steps for making them happen.

1. Emphasize purpose and personal fulfillment

One of the symposium’s strongest messages was the importance of purpose and personal fulfillment in one’s work. As operators, you must shift the narrative to highlight the personal and purposeful nature of your industry.

Action step(s): Integrate stories of personal impact and fulfillment into your recruitment materials and social media campaigns. Host events where current employees share their experiences of making a difference in residents’ lives.

2. Leverage early experiences and education

Early exposure to the senior living field is crucial in attracting new talent. Educational programs that introduce students to the business and management aspects of senior living can spark interest and commitment.

Action step(s): Partner with local colleges and universities to offer internships, volunteering opportunities and real-world projects. Support the development of senior living leadership programs by providing guest lectures, mentoring and financial support.

3. Foster innovation and technological integration

Demonstrating a commitment to technologic advancement can make your organization more attractive to tech-savvy candidates.

Action step(s): Invest in the latest technology and highlight these advancements in your job postings and during interviews. Encourage young leaders to propose and implement tech-driven solutions that improve services and care as well as operational efficiency.

4. Expand outreach and build partnerships

To attract a diverse pool of talent, extend your outreach beyond traditional educational institutions. Engaging with high schools and even middle schools can spark early interest in this line of work.

Action step(s): Develop partnerships with local schools to offer educational programs, career days and internships. Create awareness campaigns that highlight the rewarding careers available in senior living.

5. Address pandemic perspectives

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the landscape of this field. Understanding and leveraging the unique perspectives of younger generations, who view the pandemic as a significant part of their lives, can be beneficial.

Action step(s): Acknowledge the challenges and resilience demonstrated during the pandemic in your communications. Highlight how the industry is evolving and the role young leaders can play in driving this change.

6. Cultivate a positive and collaborative culture

To attract and retain young talent, this is a price of admission.

Action step(s): Promote a culture of collaboration and continuous learning within your organization. Offer professional development opportunities and create platforms for young leaders to contribute their ideas and visions.

In many ways, the future of senior living will hinge on its ability to attract and nurture a new generation of leaders. The more of these approaches your organization can embrace, the more successful you are likely to be.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s Senior Living and its sister media brands, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, which focuses on skilled nursing, and McKnight’s Home Care. Read more of his columns here.