Across all demographics, finding and hiring qualified job candidates (67%) is the top workforce challenge in long-term care and healthcare, followed by employee turnover (57%). That’s according to a “Workforce 360” survey of more than 2,100 skilled nursing, senior living and healthcare professionals conducted by human capital management software company OnShift. 

The firm asked respondents to share the top workforce challenges facing the industries today, as well as the effect that COVID-19 is having on their employees and their organizations. This year’s results are flipped with 2019, in which employee turnover received the most votes as the top workforce challenge. Respondents noted that turnover continues to be a major issue, but hiring and retaining qualified workers has become even more difficult as a result of the pandemic. 

The report also showed a 50% year-over-year increase in respondents citing staffing to meet resident care needs (47%) and managing excess labor costs (33%) as top workforce challenges. Further, almost three-fourths (74%) of poll participants reported difficulties with consistently filling shifts, with operators turning to overtime (73%), managers working open shifts (37%), adjusting employee roles (31%) or using agencies (24%) to cover their staffing needs. But 33% of respondents still said some shifts do not have enough staff.

Respondents also recognized the effect the crisis is having on the lives of their staff — many of which are likely major reasons recruitment and retention have become the top challenge. Employee burnout (80%) and fear and safety concerns due to COVID-19 (65%) were reported as the top personal challenges facing the workforce today.

“Providers recognize the tremendous sacrifices their employees have made during this unprecedented time, and they understand the impact these sacrifices have had on their team’s well-being,” OnShift President and COO Ray Desrochers said. 

In response, he added, many operators are working quickly to adopt new technologies to help to streamline and simplify their staff’s day-to-day work experiences while simultaneously adapting many of their programs and policies to better meet the long-term needs of their workers.