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Success for senior living operators will depend on finding ways to attract and keep high-quality employees, and the results of a new survey could help employers crack the code.

Work-life balance, flexibility, equity and the opportunity to learn new skills are now at the heart of career decisions, according to the findings of a large survey of employees by Randstad published in the 2024 Workmonitor report.

The talent company, based in the Netherlands, queried 27,000 workers in 34 markets across North and South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. The study did not focus on any one industry, but homing in on the US-related findings of the report could help senior living companies compete with other industries.

The top three most important factors when thinking about current or future jobs, US respondents said, are:

  1. Pay,
  2. Work-life balance and
  3. Job security and health insurance/healthcare benefits.

But Randstad’s CEO said that the new “ABCs of talent” are ambition, balance and connection, and that employers must embrace those factors if they want to gain a competitive advantage. Those are the factors, Sander van ‘t Noordende said, that are “driving the agenda in a talent-scarce world of work.”

Digging a little deeper into the study’s findings in the areas of motivation and ambition finds that workers are driven by more than just advancing on a career ladder. Fifty-four percent of US participants said that they would be happy to remain in a role if they liked it, even if there was no room to progress or develop.

Along those same lines, only 32% of US workers said they would leave a job if it did not offer opportunities for career progression. In fact, only 38% of US respondents said they wanted to assume more managerial responsibilities.

Not all senior living jobs lend themselves to remote work, but for those that do, it’s worth noting that US workers also said they want flexible workplaces. Forty-three percent of US respondents said they wouldn’t accept a job offer from an employer that couldn’t be flexible about work hours, and 39% of US participants said they wouldn’t accept a job if the employer wasn’t flexible about working location. A full 36% of US workers said that being able to work from home was nonnegotiable to them, and 32% of US participants said they would consider quitting if their employers asked them to spend more time working in the office.

Additionally, 28% of US workers said they had made arrangements in their lives based on the assumption that working from home was here to stay, although 28% of US respondents said that their employers expected them to be in the office more than they did six months ago. Also, 80% of US workers said that they work in the same location as their colleagues.

A company’s efforts to promote equity are important to many employees and potential employees, with 35% of US participants in the research saying that they wouldn’t accept a job offer if they didn’t agree with the viewpoints of a company’s leaders, and 32% saying that they wouldn’t accept a position from an organization that wasn’t making an effort to improve its diversity and equity. An equal percentage (32%) of US respondents said that they would not accept an offer if the business did not align with their values on social and environmental issues.

Toward that end, US workers said that the three most important equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging initiatives or policies are:

  1. Gender pay equity,
  2. Family leave for everyone and 
  3. A diverse workforce.

US workers also showed an interest in keeping up to date on their skills to keep them attractive to employers, and 49% of US respondents said that their employers were helping them in that regard. A full 32% said they would not accept a job offer if it didn’t include learning and development opportunities, and 25% of US participants said that they would quit a job if they weren’t offered such opportunities.

US respondents said that they were most interested in learning and development opportunities related to:

  1. Well-being and mindfulness, artificial intelligence and tech literacy,
  2. Coaching and mentoring,
  3. Communication and presentation skills and
  4. Programming and coding.

No one-size-fits-all approach

Although the findings certainly are food for thought, van ‘t Noordende said that, unfortunately for employers in the United States and elsewhere, “There’s no one-size-fits all approach, as workers’ ambitions, motivations and priorities are becoming more fragmented and personalized.”

Therefore, the CEO added, “It’s crucial that employers communicate regularly with talent about their wants and needs, whether that be flexible work, career aspirations or learning and development opportunities.”

In that way, his advice means that the solution to employee retention hasn’t really changed. But employers must commit to the work. 

“Embodying a talent-first mindset and truly understanding their personal motivations and priorities will help set businesses apart,” he said.

Read the whole report here.

Lois A. Bowers is the editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Read her other columns here. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at Lois_Bowers.