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Three Ways Senior Living Communities are Changing How They Hire in Response to COVID-19

April 23, 2020

By Desmond Lim

It’s no understatement to say that senior living communities are being ravaged by coronavirus. In New York, residents at 354 nursing homes have tested positive for COVID-19. In California, a nursing home was forced to evacuate residents because the majority of staff failed to show up to work for multiple days.

Many senior living facilities fear for the health of their residents and staff. Others are in preparation mode—they’re ramping up hiring, streamlining processes, and adding training in line with recommendations from the CDC. The fact of the matter is senior living facilities are in crunch mode to find and vet qualified workers to help provide quality care during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the methods that were used for hiring in a pre-coronavirus world simply won’t cut it. This pandemic has forever changed how we hire qualified workers in the senior living space.

There are three emerging trends driving new practices that all hiring managers in the space should adopt. During this time these new tactics will shape how the industry hires for years to come.

1. Video Interviews

Zoom isn’t just for meetings—it’s an easy way to conduct interviews while reducing the spread of coronavirus. Usually when people apply for a job at a senior living facility, they’re texted a link to schedule their in-person interviews. To help prevent any risk of spreading COVID-19, hiring managers are now adding a video intro stage and/or are switching to video conferences. This method has proven to not only adhere to social distancing guidelines, but hiring managers are finding that it expedites the interview process.

In order to automate hiring qualified workers, management should lean into video interviews. A few ways they can do this include:

    • Recording Intros: Some ask applicants to record a 30-second video introducing themselves. Hiring managers then screen the videos and decide who to invite for follow up video or in-person interviews. This is especially prevalent when hiring care drivers.
    • Video Conferences: Others are completely doing away with the in-person interview. The applicant still receives a link to schedule an interview, but their confirmation message is a link to a Zoom Conference rather than a physical address. Multiple hiring managers can join the same interview, rather than stacking interviews back-to-back. Efficiency is everything.

Including video intro submissions and/or adding video conferences enables management to fast track the interview and hiring process. It allows for hiring managers to vet cultural fits without having to meet in person.

2. Flexible Schedules & Benefits

There’s a war for talent going on in the senior living space. To get ahead, many facilities are offering shorter, flexible shifts. Doing a close analysis of job descriptions, there is a rise in the number of job postings mentioning “flexible hours” directly in the headline. Many have found posts that clearly communicate flexibility within the job description receive up to twice as many applicants.

Not only are applicants craving a work schedule that adheres to their lifestyle, but they are closely looking at what benefits are being offered by the company. And many senior living facilities are pivoting their benefits to attract top talent and including this in their job postings. For example, Aegis Living is offering a 401K, educational assistance, and $1 meals for all employees and family members. Additionally, they’ve added nontraditional benefits, like company-wide lotteries for cash rewards and vacations to attract more qualified workers.

Another trend the industry is seeing in the benefits space is offering childcare. In fact, companies like Dominion Senior Living are providing workers a monthly stipend of $500 to cover childcare in pandemic-stricken states.

In order to win over top talent, hiring managers need to assess if they are able to offer flexibility in their employees’ work schedules, as well as see where they can provide rich benefits to attract more qualified job applicants. By including this information in a job posting or job description, senior hiring executives will increase their pool of applicants.

3. Mobile Training

Reducing the spread of coronavirus requires implementing new procedures fast. Senior living facilities are increasingly using various communications platforms to share guidelines linking to CDC resources on protective gear, limiting visitors, and cohorting ill residents.

Another increasing trend is having training videos sent via text message links that not only keep employees safe, but also improve efficiency around training. Some link to webinars, such as this presentation by Dr. Kara Jacobs Slifka describing actions that should be taken by residents and staff to slow the spread of COVID-19.

More recently there are a lot of fast, simple iPhone videos where an administrator is speaking directly to the screen. On top of virtual training tactics, this is helping teams stay connected and maintain morale during this unprecedented time.

The COVID-19 situation is evolving quickly, and senior living facilities are often the epicenters of local outbreaks. I have enormous respect for frontline workers and this is an important moment for all of us to work together.

About the Author: Desmond Lim is the founder and CEO of Workstream, a staffing automation platform used by many senior living facilities and transportation companies. Desmond lives in Palo Alto with his wife and two young daughters, Angela and Nora.


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