9 Post-COVID Senior Living Workforce Trends

While the senior living industry approaches a recovery phase, we expect that the pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on the industry and its workforce.  With that in mind, there are a number of workforce trends that have been accelerated by the pandemic and are expected to stick in a Post-COVID era:

1) Shift to Remote or Hybrid Work Models

The upheaval that defined 2020, led to the evolution of the remote workplace for a number of senior living professionals. Positions in Sales, Marketing, Public Relations, Accounting, Business Offices, Customer Care, etc. are now being advertised on job boards as “work from anywhere” roles.  In addition, some senior living organizations are planning to implement a hybrid virtual model that combines remote work with time in the office. The McKinsey Group recently conducted a survey of workers in a number of industries and found that approximacalltoy 30 percent of employees would switch jobs if they had to fully return to on-site work and 50 percent would prefer a hybrid model and work from home at least 3 days per week.

2) New Workforce Retention Programs Gain Popularity

Staff turnover has always been a concern in the senior living industry. However, the pandemic has pushed that to a whole new level. The stress of having staff leave for greener pastures has many providers thinking outside the box and implementing new retention programs and strategies. According to Senior Housing News, flexible scheduling, higher pay, free meals, gym memberships, and other personal services were not standard in the senior living industry before the pandemic, but providers offer them with greater frequency as they seek to retain staff. In addition, there’s a new wave of counteroffers happening.  Organizations are hoping lucrative counteroffers will entice their staff to stay, at least for the short-term.

3) Hiring Top of Mind

Prior to COVID, the senior living industry was experiencing a talent shortage. In a post-COVID era, the industry will experience an even bigger talent gap. It’s been beyond challenging to locate and land healthcare professionals, especially Nurse Leaders. Some providers have fast tracked their hiring process to just 1 week to get the helping hands they need. Others have focused on attracting Millennials from different industries since they now comprise 43.3 percent of the global workforce. In addition, many providers have looked to industry-specific search firms for talent, both perm and interim. Reputable senior care search firms have strong networks and access to vetted candidates.

4) Interim Talent Surge Continues

The need for interim coverage had been on the rise before COVID but now, the demand is even greater.  Interims are now viewed as vital to the success of an organization. An interim leader can direct organizational dynamics at an executive level. They are often hired to tackle specific projects, offer their expertise, and help design corporate strategy as well as fill-in when the predecessor has resigned, retired, or left suddenly. Interim leaders often have the ability to make a real difference in an organization for a designated period of time without the need for a long-term commitment.

5) Succession Planning More Critical

COVID has exposed the need to be prepared for the unexpected and to improve executive planning turnover.  With the many business disruptions due to COVID, it’s not sufficient enough to simply name a designated successor or agree on which senior living executive search firm to hire to identify external candidates.  Rather, a senior living organization should develop an updated plan that includes: competencies and attributes needed in a future CEO or C-level position,  evaluation of high potential candidates, emergency succession plan in place that identifies an interim CEO or C-level executive, approaches to retaining current high performing senior leaders, a diversity and inclusion plan, and a timetable for a planned retirement or departure.

6) Organizations Adopt Digital Mindset

More than ever, the long-term care industry is relying on technology to help improve the quality of employee life and resident care. A 2020 survey by Senior Housing News in partnership with global health technology firm Philips, found that out of 250 respondents, 80 percent reported an increase in tech spending to help address the pandemic. For this year, 87 percent said they expect their organizations to increase their technology budgets spending more on items that have proved essential for their workforce and quality of care for residents. These include including virtual meetings, remote monitoring, wearable technology, calltoehealth, smart utilities, voice activated systems, and virtual tours, etc.  In addition, facilities plan to utilize technology to comply with state and federal regulations.  According to Forbes.com, workforce management technology can harness real-time data to reveal compliance gaps and recommend ways to close them and fulfill reporting requirements.

7) Infection Preventionist Role Rapidly Expanding

The Global Infection Control Market is forecasted to reach USD $31.99 Billion by 2027, according to a new report by Reports and Data. Within the senior living industry, the need for Infection Preventionists is on the rise and in high-demand. These professionals are quickly becoming key members of the interdisciplinary team caring for our senior population. Traditionally, the role of an Infection Preventionist has been about preventing common acquired infections and advising on hygiene.  While still the case, the role has expanded and is rapidly changing to include a focus on how to be ready for future outbreaks and pandemics.

8) New Environment Requires Specific Leadership Skills

If this pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that we weren’t ready for it. As a result, long-term care organizations and their leadership teams are spending time now on building preparedness plans and adopting better tools for managing a possible future pandemic. Better tools include effective and relevant leadership skills.  In times of crisis and calamity, it’s only natural that employees look to their leaders for direction. Therefore, it is particularly important that your leadership team be equipped with the pertinent leadership skills of Adaptability & Resilience, Team Support. Empathy & Compassion, Communication & Transparency, Critical Thinking, Tech Savviness, and Creativity.

9) Cross Training Becomes Essential

Cross-training has become a central issue in the senior living industry recently and for good reason.  The pandemic has made the practice of training people to work in several different roles essential.  Per one Nursing Home Administrator “Senior management and staff have had to adapt to a rapidly changing environment plus, learn how to match their workers to new roles and activities.  The staff has had to learn other jobs quickly to cover all the bases.”  While not every position or skill is transferable, there are tangible benefits when you can bring in employees from other areas who can pitch in during challenging times.




Julie Rupenski is the Founder, President & CEO of MedBest, opening the doors in 2001. Since then, Julie has gained national recognition for providing top talent solutions exclusively for the Senior Living Industry. Her specialties include filling C-Suite, Vice President, Regional, and Property level positions.

Julie has an in-depth knowledge of the Senior Living Industry.  She previously worked in operations for both Senior Housing and Senior Living prior to founding MedBest. Today, Julie makes it her personal and professional mission to place qualified people in health care positions where they have the greatest impact.

(Julie’s industry articles and interviews have been published in Provider Magazine, Argentum Quarterly, LeadingAge Magazine, Florida Health Care Association, Florida Assisted Living Association, Florida Senior Living Association, LeadingAge Florida, LeadingAge Indiana, Pennsylvania Health Care Association, Oregon Health Care Association, and Virginia Assisted Living Association.)

Julie earned her degree in Gerontology at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida and continues to cultivate her career through senior living conferences, forums, trade shows, and expos.

Contact Julie Rupenski at jrupenski@www.medbest.com / 727-526-1294.


Senior Living Executive Recruiting FirmABOUT MEDBEST

MedBest is a national Executive Search Firm exclusive to the Senior Living Industry established in 2001.  We recruit and acquire exceptional senior care talent, permanent and interim executives, for the full continuum of LTC facilities across the US including Assisted Living, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Independent Living, Memory Care, Home Health Care, and Skilled Nursing Facilities.

Contact us at 727-526-1294 / info@www.medbest.com

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