While the new federal staffing mandate for nursing homes is fueling immediate pressure to increase staffing, staffing challenges in long-term care are nothing new — in fact, they’ve been growing for years. Attracting and retaining skilled workers to your LTC workplace isn’t just a priority; it’s essential for maintaining high-quality care, operational efficiency, and CMS compliance. 

In light of these challenges, I want to share some insights and strategies that can transform your facility into a top destination workplace so you can meet the needs of your residents both now and in the future.

Creating a positive workplace environment

To overcome staffing challenges, skilled nursing facilities must create exceptional work environments. Are you taking steps to turn your organization into one that employees aspire to join, refer their colleagues to, and never want to leave? It’s not a pipe dream, but how can you do this?

There are four key actions to take: recognize employee achievements, provide upskilling opportunities, support diversity and inclusion, and protect work-life balance.

1. Recognize employee achievements

Establish a formal recognition program to boost morale and motivation. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition also fosters a supportive community within your facility. 

2. Provide upskilling opportunities

Offer professional growth like training programs, workshops and continuing education opportunities to help employees advance their careers and feel valued.

3. Support diversity and inclusion

Implement a diversity and inclusion program to create a positive workplace culture where everyone feels like they belong. Training programs that emphasize the importance of diversity while promoting a culture of respect and empathy can enhance job satisfaction and retention. 

4. Protect work-life balance.

Promote flexible scheduling and encourage the use of paid time off to reduce burnout and improve overall job satisfaction.

Attracting and recruiting quality talent

Attracting and recruiting quality talent is about hiring the right people. It requires a strategic approach tailored to the unique needs of your facility. Start by advertising job openings in the right places to reach a broad and qualified audience. Use the latest job seeker platforms and a variety of hiring tactics to make sure you draw from the best talent pool.

During the interview process, take care to assess candidates’ alignment with your facility’s values and mission. Asking questions that uncover their motivations and values can help determine whether they’re a good fit for your team. Developing comprehensive onboarding programs is also critical. A positive onboarding experience can significantly impact a new employee’s long-term satisfaction and retention.

Empowerment and retention strategies

It’s not just enough to be able to attract talent — keeping them is essential to sustained success. To do this, it’s vital to focus on empowerment strategies that enhance their sense of purpose and job satisfaction. Providing ongoing training opportunities — including specialized training tailored to specific roles – can make daily work more manageable and offer clear paths for career growth. 

Offering competitive benefits and compensation is another major factor in retention. Comprehensive healthcare benefits, retirement plans and options for flexible spending accounts can make a significant difference in keeping your staff happy and committed.

Communication is key, and this applies on an internal level as well. You can accomplish open and transparent communication between management and staff through regular meetings, newsletters and electronic communication platforms. Encouraging feedback from employees on communication processes lets everyone feel heard and valued.

Leveraging technology for workplace improvement

Technology plays a pivotal role in addressing staffing challenges and improving workplace efficiency. Leveraging workforce management and HR operations software can streamline processes, enhance compliance, and improve employee satisfaction — especially for the younger workforce.

Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions purpose-built for long-term care can centralize and automate employee management, including scheduling, compliance, time, attendance, payroll and recruitment. These systems reduce administrative burdens, minimize errors and ensure regulatory compliance, ultimately leading to a more efficient and satisfied workforce.

Providing centralized access to schedules, pay information and training resources also enhances employee engagement. This transparency fosters trust and open dialogue between management and staff, leading to greater job satisfaction. Additionally, technology can help decrease labor costs by optimizing staffing levels, minimizing overtime, and streamlining payroll processing. However you look at it, it’s a win-win. 

Taking the next steps

The time to address the difficult labor climate in long-term care is now, and none of this can happen overnight. Thriving in this climate calls for a multifaceted approach that combines creating a positive work environment, strategic recruitment, employee empowerment, and leveraging technology purpose-built for the long-term care industry. By implementing these strategies, you can transform your facility into a top employment destination, one that’s able to attract and retain the skilled staff necessary to provide exceptional care for your residents.

As we look to the future, it’s clear that the demand for skilled nursing care will only continue to grow. Taking proactive measures now to invest in your workforce and harness modern technology means you can meet these challenges head-on, rise above the labor war, and set your facility apart as a leader in the LTC sector.

Mark Stoever is the CEO of Smartlinx.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.

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