It’s no secret that the long-term care industry has been facing a talent supply-and-demand crisis for some time. Along with an aging population that increasingly requires healthcare services, there continues to be a shortage of LTC talent — and the trend is expected to continue.

Managers in the long-term care setting are well aware of the issues causing the problem. There is only so much that an LTC administrator can do about a worker shortage that seems to get worse daily, or the rising costs affecting the skilled nursing industry, or troubling staff turnover trends.

However, long-term care leaders can take steps to address talent supply and retention challenges by focusing on the new generation of talent entering the workforce. In Generation Z—individuals currently between the ages of 14 and 24— lies a new cohort of talent ready to explore LTC careers and acquire the skills that will make them highly effective healthcare employees for tomorrow.

Not only is Generation Z expected to comprise 36 percent of the global workforce by 2020, but Gen Zers are attracted to careers that feature continuous learning and opportunities to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives—benefits that a career in long-term care can provide. 

A focus on Generation Z

Unsurprisingly, a shortage of talented LTC candidates combined with high employee turnover keep healthcare recruiters busy and frustrated. In a survey of healthcare executives and HR leaders, 51.6% of respondents said their organization was “not very good” at finding potential employees in a reasonable amount of time. In reality, many candidates may not even be considering a career in long-term care. Some may be unaware of the available opportunities, while others may perceive healthcare as less attractive than popular professions such as tech or engineering.

Thankfully, these issues can be overcome by engaging Generation Z talent through specific and deliberate actions. Working independently or with a talent acquisition partner skilled at attracting Gen Z talent, LTC providers and colleagues can take the following steps to achieve recruiting success:

Raise awareness about LTC careers 

Research suggests that Gen Zers begin to explore and consider career opportunities as early as high school. However, if they aren’t aware of the career options that exist within long-term care, they’re less likely to consider a career in the industry.

Gen Zers are highly attracted to careers where they can make a difference in the world. Few industries outside of LTC impact people more by enhancing quality of life. By raising awareness and helping prospective candidates see the available opportunities, LTC providers and health systems, can attract a sizable portion of Gen Z talent.

Build a strong brand

Generation Zers are digital natives who seek out opportunities to engage with prospective employers via social networking, video, and other means of storytelling. They don’t just want to see a list of open positions — they want to understand what it means to work in the long-term care setting, how they can make an impact, and how they can fit into the broader organization.

Some examples of the employer branding actions LTC providers can take to attract Gen Z talent include:

  • Nurturing candidates while they’re still in college, so they will be knowledgeable about your brand when it’s time for them to consider potential roles
  • Using targeted content to highlight LTC career paths and available training, giving candidates a view of opportunities for lateral moves and promotions
  • Offering opportunities to interact with long-term care leaders and employee ambassadors via Q&A sessions, virtual career fairs, or mentoring
  • Partnering with healthcare education and training providers as a way to help candidates make the jump from education to employment
  • Leveraging a professional networking platform specifically designed with the needs of young talent in mind

Highlight LTC career opportunities

Job descriptions posted on a careers site or job boards can only do so much. Young people want to know more than the key responsibilities and qualifications for a role; they want to understand how their aspirations, knowledge, and skills will align to specific job opportunities. Some of the areas to stress when highlighting long-term care opportunities include:

  • Key interfaces: Who are the people they will interact with on a regular basis?
  • Team characteristics: What characteristics define the culture of the team they would join?
  • Compensation and benefits: What are the earning potential, and benefits associated with the role?
  • Opportunities for growth: What is the next step after an entry-level LTC role?

Long-term care managers and health system administrators cannot control all of the factors influencing the worker shortage, but there are actions that can be taken to improve the situation. By focusing on branding, supporting skills-based learning, and raising awareness about available LTC opportunities, providers can attract a whole new generation of talent.

As you plan for the future, long-term care leaders should consider partnerships. For example, we recently launched with a major healthcare organization to both address the need for skilled workers and provide future opportunities for the next generation. These types of partnerships can hopefully help everyone win.

Taha Bawa is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Goodwall.