As pandemic-related workforce challenges continue to plague long-term care, operators find themselves competing with a “gig economy,” where many workers want to be paid immediately for services rendered and have taken steps to meet that need, Juniper Communities founder and CEO Lynne Katzmann told the McKnight’s Business Daily.

Bloomfield, NJ-based Juniper has been implementing changes to meet the needs of 21st-century workers, she said, making more human resources processes digital and introducing an app that allows workers to be paid daily if they choose while also trying to lure older workers to open positions. 

“People … want to be able to get work when they want it, and they want to be paid for it as quickly as they earn it,” Katzmann said. “In most people’s minds, earning it means having done the work. This [app] enables us to do that.”

Coming out of the pandemic, particularly in the past eight months, Juniper has “repurposed” its sales team to both revamp the company’s digital presence and increase recruitment and retention efforts, Katzmann said. The company is focusing its efforts on both a younger generation of associates and those who have retired during the pandemic and might be willing to come back to work even on a part-time basis.

Younger associates need to be recruited a little differently, Katzmann said, and the digitization of human resources processes for hiring, onboarding and making payroll are essential. Flexible scheduling also is a key to retention, she added, and the organization’s new digital system allows workers to choose their shifts and pick up additional shifts if they want extra hours.

Juniper began using DailyPay approximately two weeks ago. Through this software, employees now will be able to access their earned pay in real time instead of waiting for payday.

“It gives all of our associates complete flexibility on how they want to access their earnings,” Shannon Battison, human resources information systems and benefits specialist at Juniper Communities, told the McKnight’s Business Daily. “It’s an ability to be paid on demand without waiting for payday. In a sense, every day can be payday if you use it that way.”

DailyPay tracks the hours each employee works and makes those earnings available that same day if a worker wishes. In addition, employees can set up automatic transfers to their savings accounts.

“It is completely mobile-friendly. They can do everything from their phone and utilize the website as well,” Battison said.

Two weeks after the launch, Juniper is getting “very good feedback” from employees, she said. Initially, 4% of workers signed up for the mobile platform, and enrollment currently is at 22%.

“Some of the associates have done multiple transfers already,” Battison said. “It’s definitely a benefit that our associates want.”

Other efforts to digitize the HR platform, she said, also have sped up the application process and enabled the company to contact prospective staff members more quickly. Once hired, workers can do all of their onboarding electronically, saving hours of paperwork on their first day on the job.

“We’re able to be seen as digital-first, and it enables people to see a company that’s being forward-thinking and innovative,” Katzmann said. 

In addition to working to recruit younger workers in this gig economy, Juniper is trying to recruit older people back into the workforce. Katzmann said the company already has begun contacting people who may have left the workforce during the pandemic.

The organization’s retention efforts include a comprehensive benefits package, educational programs, tuition reimbursement and a policy to promote from within. Juniper also has an on-site urgent care facility, enabling employees to walk in for medical treatment while they’re at work.

“We’re working to be able to compete with companies like Uber and lyft that provide these similar benefits and have been doing so for some time,” Katzmann said.

Juniper operates 31 long-term care communities  across Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.