Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Nursing homes that use tactics such as centralized recruiting, a consistent “red carpet culture” and creative benefits programs will have a leg up in today’s challenging long-term care staffing environment. 

That was the message delivered Tuesday by recruiting experts taking part in a webinar hosted by management and consulting organization Health Dimensions Group.

Providers have numerous tools and tactics they can employ, but a particularly vital key to success is pursuing a centralized strategy with at least one person dedicated to recruiting, said Alex Knight, senior director of recruitment and placement services at HDG.

“As a former operator myself, I wish I would’ve had centralized recruiting,” Knight said. “You are getting pulled in all different directions. Whether you’re dealing with patients, upset family members, surveyors walking into your building, often one of the biggest things that gets put to the wayside is recruiting.”

A dedicated recruitment employee or consultant who can champion a provider’s brand can make sure that recruiting and retention don’t get lost in that pressure.

With staffing and retention such a pressing issue for providers across the US, recruiters need to do more than simply post job listings and hope for the best, emphasized Sarah Friede, senior vice president of recruitment services at HDG. It’s now more important than ever to track applicants, use social media to promote company culture and create a consistent culture of care and respect for applicants and employees at all stages of recruitment and employment.

Cultivating a pipeline of potential employees is vital, Friede told attendees Tuesday.

“You only hire one person at a time for each job,” she explained. “Make sure that you are keeping engaged with the other candidates …  and checking in with them consistently, either on a quarterly or biannual basis. This ensures that you’re going to have qualified candidates waiting in the wings when you do have a job open.”

Communication and creativity 

Consistent and respectful communication should extend to workers leaving employment as well, Friede noted. Staff that move on from a job will be far more likely to leave positive feedback or even potentially become “boomerang candidates” who later return to a provider if so.

“Make sure every company interaction you have with your candidate base … is great from the start,” she said. “Treat those candidates as customers — follow up and stay in touch to nurture that pipeline.”

One key way to boost recruitment and maintain that red carpet culture after hiring is complete is to be creative with benefits, the experts said — noting that long-term care providers are often at a disadvantage compared to hospitals and other professions when it comes to pay. 

“Good benefits show your employees that you’re not only invested in their overall health but their future,” Friede said. “A solid benefit package can help attract and retain talent and differentiate you from your competitors.” 

She noted that it’s important to survey employees about the benefits they actually want and will use. Offering an unpopular benefit incurs painful costs without boosting employee morale. 

The speakers highlighted unconventional benefits, like monthly travel stipends, on-site living arrangements for employees with long commutes, and even pet adoption subsidies as examples that had been successfully implemented in facilities consulting with HDG.