Overcoming the Staffing Crisis in Senior Care: Insights and Strategies

Published on : 6/6/24
  • Amid the buzz of the 2024 LeadingAge Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., one topic dominated discussions: the urgent challenge of staffing and talent management in the senior living sector.

    Low wages, combined with the physical and emotional toll of long-term care roles, have contributed to these staffing shortages, resulting in 54% of nursing homes limiting new patient admissions and 25% of home health providers turning away patients in 2023.

    But by working in parallel with state-led legislation changes, there are a number of proven strategies we can take to overcome the staffing and talent management challenge.

    Proven Strategies to Enhancing Recruitment and Retention

    By focusing our efforts on improving our existing processes around recruitment and retention, we set ourselves up for better hiring rates and lower turnover in crucial frontline roles like dining, housekeeping, laundry and more.

    Areas of improvement that have the highest return on investment include:

    • The compensation package
    • Training and job development
    • Employee engagement and cultural inclusivity
    • Employee recognition and rewards
    • Data-based decision-making
    • The compensation package

    The compensation package

    Sodexo recently launched Vida, a benefit program that provides our 425,000 employees globally with three crucial benefits: one year of life insurance in the value of their annual total compensation, eight weeks paid leave for caregivers and a 24-hour employee assistance program.

    Beyond the offer of competitive wages, comprehensive benefits packages hold intrinsic value. Seasoned recruiters adept at passionately articulating these benefits can prove invaluable. A crucial question to ask is, which benefits truly resonate with your frontline staff? A multigenerational workforce may prioritize different benefits based on their unique journeys. Think creatively — daycare support or tuition reimbursement could outweigh retirement benefits for some.

    Training and job development

    At Sodexo, we’re working with 1Huddle to create gamified training for our employees, increasing engagement and retention of information. This type of high-quality, ongoing training has proven indispensable in enhancing resident experience and employee retention, particularly for entry-level staff.

    Consider outsourcing labor management to an organization with quality resources to alleviate potential burdens on your team. Demonstrating a clear path to development fosters a sense of value among employees and enhances their earning potential — an essential message for frontline team members.

    Employee engagement and culture

    Sodexo has recently recommitted to diversity, equity and inclusion, offering 12 employee resource groups and increasing efforts in identifying talent from historically underrepresented backgrounds.

    Nurturing a culture of belonging starts with celebrating diversity and fostering relationships among staff and residents. This can take myriad forms: A simple yet meaningful gesture could involve staff members sharing and discussing special family recipes. Frontline staff isn’t just seeking a paycheck; they crave connections and fulfillment. Provide avenues for them to attain these.

    Employee recognition and rewards

    Initiatives like the Spirit of Sodexo and the Sodexo CARES Award commend exemplary service, fostering a culture of appreciation and respect. Recognition holds immense significance for colleagues across all levels who work tirelessly, often behind the scenes. Recognize employees who go above and beyond in a public forum once a month. A simple thank you goes further than you think.

    Data-based decision-making

    Are you aware of competitors’ current pay rates? Are your residents satisfied with dining room service? Do you understand the reasons behind employee turnover? Continuously monitoring and acting on data related to employee and resident experiences facilitate ongoing improvement. Outsourcing can prove beneficial here; data-driven strategies can lead to substantial enhancements in training, hiring metrics and employee tenure, ultimately boosting resident satisfaction.


    Take a moment during your next administrative meeting to delve into these recruitment and retention strategies and explore how your community can benefit from their implementation. Start with Sodexo Seniors CEO Molly Matthews’ insight on the topic at the LeadingAge Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. in April. Even small steps in the right direction can yield significant improvements in recruitment and retention for frontline team members.