Building a Talented and Diverse Aging Services Workforce

Written by Roberto Muñiz
President & CEO, Parker

Roberto MuñizThere has been no lack of discussion about the looming workforce issues for the aging services field. And one of the greatest challenges is the lack of momentum within the industry to promote aging services as an attractive and viable option for job seekers.
Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemy, with talk of long hours and never-ending demands. What we should be talking about is the value of the work we do, including the rewards, both personal and financial, and the broad range of opportunities that exist within the field.
Most people, when thinking of aging services, will immediately call to mind nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals who provide the clinical expertise. But how many can identify additional job options in the field?

Providers are no longer just "nursing homes" or "senior apartments". While the need for excellent nurses, geriatricians, nursing assistants and other clinicians will continue to grow, newer options such as rehabilitation and wellness programs, at-home care, and concierge-type services expand career opportunities further.
Social services, therapy, and recreation professionals are an integral part of the care and services provided, with human resources, marketing, plant operations and technology professionals in growing demand. Business offices offer a wide array of opportunities for financial and operations expertise, and let's not forget food services which now includes fine dining, casual venues and catering options.
As organizations and opportunities grow, our workforce is coming from many non-traditional routes. At Parker our talented staff hails from a variety of backgrounds, including investment banking, nonprofit management, Fortune 500 companies, and even the Ritz Carlton!
In attracting this newly expanding workforce we may need to think about benefits outside our normal comfort zone. Along with competitive pay and benefit packages we should consider ideas like flexible work arrangements and telecommuting to attract a broader and more diverse workforce. It's not business as usual in the care and services we are providing, and it's not business as usual in the employees we are hiring!
I think many of us have done a good job of "telling our story" to help the public understand the work we do in providing quality care and services to our residents and elders. But now, our story must include the career opportunities that exist within our organizations.
On an organizational and industry level, outreach to high schools, technical schools, colleges and universities is a must, as is collaborating with businesses and organizations to identify and implement innovative workforce solutions. Competitive compensation and benefit packages, education and training, internships and residency programs, and referral and signing bonuses, can all play a role in attracting a strong and competent workforce.
And remember, after recruitment comes retention, but that's a story for another day.

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