The last few years have put the senior care, assisted living, and healthcare sector under more pressure than we ever could have imagined. Now, as we work to rebound and reshape our field, we’re keeping a close eye on the biggest trends and how they’re impacting us. Saratoga, a workforce analytics and HR benchmarking product from PwC, has officially released its “Top 4 Workforce Trends,” based on the results of its 2023 benchmarking survey. Here are the top four trends researchers uncovered – and how they could impact your team.


Turnover Rates Decrease, But the Challenges Aren’t Over

 The “Great Resignation” or the “Great Reshuffle” has been visible across sectors, but the healthcare world has seen some of the most intense staffing shortages, turnover rates, and even people quitting the field altogether. Fortunately, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Turnover rates in general seem to be stabilizing and lowering, hopefully soon to approach pre-pandemic levels. There are still challenges, of course, but this trend indicates a move towards more stability, as well as the success of employer initiatives to engage with, listen to, and retain employees. It is worth noting, however, that turnover remains high in senior care, with annual turnover as high as 85%. We might be moving in the right direction, but there’s still more to do in terms of employee engagement, employee value proposition, and overall retention strategy.

There’s still one group seeing significant turnover across the board: individuals in their first year at a particular job. That rate reached a high of 28% this year, demonstrating that there’s still a little way to go in terms of ensuring that new hires are truly a good fit and that they have what they need to get trained and succeed. Addressing this can take many forms, and it most likely requires re-evaluating both the hiring and onboarding process. First-year turnover is often due to misaligned values and expectations, so doing the due diligence to align during the recruiting process can go a long way toward reducing this type of turnover.


The Continued Search for Top Talent

 Other areas of talent management and acquisition are being impacted by changes in turnover and overall retention challenges. Across all industries, the external recruitment rate dropped from 28.5% to 19.6% from 2021 to 2022. Internal mobility also has slowed somewhat: the promotion rate decreased from 12.6% to 10.2%, and the mobility rate (both lateral and upward movements) decreased from 21.0% to 20.3% in the same period.

Even the recruiting process itself is taking more time: the average time to accept (measured from the opening of a requisition to the acceptance of an offer) when hiring externally increased from 41 days to 54 days between 2021 to 2022. In fields like senior care and assisted living, having jobs open for too long puts excessive strain on existing staff and can even impact client care. It’s important, then, to reconsider your recruiting process and determine if there are any ways to streamline the process and give candidates incentives to take the plunge and accept an offer sooner. Senior care and assisted living professionals are in high demand, so it’s important to have a clear proposition for what sets your team and organization apart.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts

 The last few years have seen DEI become more and more central to hiring and employee experience efforts across all industries. PwC’s research shows, however, that these efforts have impacted some groups more effectively than others. For instance, the promotion rates among racial/ethnic minority women have improved, but the promotion rates for women as a whole, racial/ethnic minorities as a whole, Gen X, and Millennials have not. Along similar lines, healthcare has a robust number of women in leadership, but is less successful with promoting racial/ethnic minorities: only 19.4% of management is a racial minority, barely ticking up from 18.9% the previous year.

DEI cannot be a siloed thing or a “quick fix,” but instead must take into account the nuances and variations that comprise “diversity” itself. This is why it’s important for companies to maintain and staff their DEI initiatives. The overall rate of DEI full-time equivalents (FTEs) has actually declined from 3.3% to 2.3% between 2021 and 2022. In healthcare, the numbers are even lower, declining from 2.2% in 2021 to just 1.5% in 2022. DEI is especially relevant in health services, which provide sensitive care to a highly diverse clientele, so recommitting to DEI is critical for these organizations.


What Return to Office Really Means

 Across the workforce as a whole, there is a clear gap between what these leaders want and what their staff prefer. 47% of CHROs expect in-office work four or five days a week, and 46% of leaders say they take on-site presence into account when determining things like promotions and bonuses. 62% of workers, meanwhile, say they’d prefer a hybrid work approach with at least some remote work, compared with just 11% who prefer to be in-person full time.

Of course, in senior care and other healthcare services, the “return to office” mandate has looked a little different, since so much of the field has required in-person work from the start.

85% of hospital and health care workers are in-person full-time (in contrast with just 7% of financial services professionals). Instead of focusing on “in office” or “at home,” focus instead on ways to alleviate stressors at work. Ensure adequate staffing levels, supportive team culture, plenty of coverage, and flexibility where possible. Your staff – and your clients in turn – will thank you for helping them avoid burnout and lowered care quality.


By Tom Zeleny, NHA