Aged Care Reform: Reimagine Your Workforce Strategy


Suppliers have the opportunity to recreate their workforce strategy as part of the steps to address key challenges, industry experts Tash Edwards and Jennene Buckley write in the ninth article in this series.

Priority 9: Reinvent your workforce strategy

The attraction and retention of the aged care workforce is arguably the highest risk element in industry-wide boards and executive programs. The Australian Federation of Nurses and Midwives’ survey of nearly 1,000 older nurses and social workers earlier this year found that 37 per cent planned to leave within one to five years and one in five planned to leave within the next 12 months.

Tash Edwards

The latest report from the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia suggests the sector is set to face a shortfall of around 35,000 direct aged care workers this year alone.

In addition to our local challenges, we have macro trends affecting the way we work. Digital technologies are set to transform a third of all jobs over the next 10 years and 87% of jobs now require digital skills.

COVID has also added additional pressures with the big resignation affecting multiple industries. The demand for flexible working hours, work-life balance and job satisfaction are all key decision factors for job seekers.

While we recognize that improving compensation for older workers is an essential step in addressing our workforce challenges, there is also an opportunity for providers to rethink their workforce strategy.

Jennene Buckley

Rethinking recruitment

Develop a targeted and tactical recruitment strategy that includes partnerships with higher and secondary education institutions and employment and training organizations that help you build a pool of skilled workers. Provide job placement and caddy opportunities across the organization and ensure the job seeker’s journey is easy, a great experience, and a short time from job application to job offer.

Role design

Review all current roles, including their skills and day-to-day activities, against what will be needed in the new senior care system, both from a customer experience and compliance perspective. How can you ensure staff are working at the peak of their scope of practice and ability? How can qualified personnel be freed up to take care of the most complex activities?

Rethink your structure

Create fluid structures that allow people to be moved and shared between different departments as their skills are needed. Structure your organization to allow your leaders to be ambidextrous so they can leverage and improve their current operations and have time for service innovation and transformation.

Employee experience

As with customer journeys, you need to know your people’s journey – the pain points and the moments that matter. Take what you learn and explain how you approach all aspects of the employer-employee relationship. Don’t rely on an annual survey. See how you can consistently capture staff sentiment and use that insight and insight to improve your employee experience.

Think micro and plan for learning and development

Make sure your learning and development activities are planned and designed to implement your strategy and respond to the era of constant change. Include soft and hard skills bundled into one-time bite-sized content. Consider reward programs, such as badges and points, to motivate learners to take ownership of their own development.

Enabling Technology

Look for enabling technologies that can help you find efficiencies and generate data for decision making. These include applications for registration, workforce management, communication and care. Eliminate mundane tasks and free up staff to do the things they care about, which is taking care of your customers.

Tash Edwards and Jennene Buckley are the founding partners of Enkindle Consulting, which provides business consulting, strategic and operational planning and transformation services to the aged care sector.

Read Previously: Make the Most of the Collaborative Advantage

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