We’ve all heard the three most important considerations in the real estate field are location, location and location.
Similarly, few would argue that the three biggest challenges in senior living are labor, labor and labor. Sure, plenty of other problems are beating up on this sector right now. But most operators will tell you that adequate staffing is far and away their leading cause of insomnia.
For any way you slice it, senior living remains at its core a service-driven business. And those services don’t just deliver themselves. Unfortunately, finding, training, motivating and retaining enough employees to meet the needs of your residents is difficult when times are good. As for the past year and half or so? Let’s just say COVID-19 hasn’t helped.
Given the ongoing staffing crisis in this field, operators have had to become more helpful, flexible, creative and generous than ever. Still, the struggle continues.
If there’s any consolation to be had here, it’s this: senior living is no longer unique in this regard. All across our great nation, employees are quitting their jobs in droves.
How many, you ask? Well, according to Labor Department figures out Tuesday, almost 4.3 million workers voluntarily left their jobs in August. That’s the highest monthly total since the turn of the century, when Uncle Sam began keeping score.
It also should be noted that the quit rate is climbing even as unemployment benefits expire. To be clear, none of this is good. In fact, there is good reason to believe things will continue to deteriorate.
For now, operators will need to do everything humanly possible to adequately staff their communities. The good news is that new tools and practices will emerge. Most operators will improve their games, embrace new approaches and become more efficient. So there’s that.
And given the natural yin and yang of economic cycles, it’s probably just a matter of time until things reverse a bit. Strange as it now seems, there will again come a day when communities will have more qualified applicants than jobs available. But who’s to say how soon that day will come? Could be months. Or even years.
It’s at times like this when we should remember that this is a remarkably resilient sector. It is full of committed, intelligent, caring people who want to make a positive difference.
I’m confident the field will survive the current labor crisis. Why? Because most of the people who lead senior living organizations are anything but quitters.