Member of long-term care workforce shaking hands during recruiting job interview.
(Credit: SDI Productions / Getty Productions)

NASHVILLE, TN — Senior living, skilled nursing and home care providers looking to diversify their workforces and appeal to particular groups of potential workers increasingly are looking beyond demographics to psychographics, according to Robert Espinoza, executive vice president of policy at PHI.

Espinoza spoke about recruiting and retaining direct care workers during an educational session at the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living Conference & Expo.

“Oftentimes, people think about segments of workers in terms of demographics. They say, ‘How do we bring in more Gen Z applicants, or more people age 55 and older, or more men?’” Espinoza said, noting that direct care workers in long-term care primarily are female.

Although he said it’s “smart” to take such an approach, “Some companies are saying, ‘Who are the types of workers who should be recruited, and how do we develop marketing campaigns that reach those workers?’” using psychographics to develop typologies.

Merriam-Webster defines psychographics as “market research or statistics classifying population groups according to psychological variables (such as attitudes, values, or fears).” A typology is a “study of or analysis or classification based on types or categories.”

Espinoza gave a couple of examples.

“One typology is ‘the older man in his early 60s who is interested in making one final career shift before fully retiring, but wants something altruistic and more fulfilling.’ That’s a very detailed typology of a worker that lends itself to much more targeted marketing than just ‘the man’ or ‘the older person,’” he said.

“Or, ‘the early-career woman in her 20s who is a college student at an elite university, wants to become a physician and yet wants a few years of in-the-field experience to learn more and to become a better professional.’ Again, that’s a typology that moves beyond ‘Gen Z’ and ‘women’ as demographics and more into the kinds of values and messages and aspirations that good marketing often taps into.”

Providers may look to professional agencies to help them with their marketing efforts, Espinoza said, “but I do think that it’s important to rattle the thinking a bit and say, in your community, ‘Who are the types of workers that would make sense to recruit?’ and maybe it starts by looking at recruitment data. It’s looking at focus groups, it’s looking at something that gives you a better sense of the mind of the worker.”

Once those workers are recruited, he said, five pillars of job quality that affect retention include quality training, fair compensation, quality supervision and support, respect and recognition, and opportunities.

Employers can ask three questions to help determine whether the company has a culture of retention, Espinoza said:

  1. Do we have a dedicated budget for retention practices and innovations?
  2. Are we collecting data to understand the needs and wants of workers?
  3. How effective are our recruiting practices, since they strongly affect retention?

The conference ended Wednesday.

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