The healthcare field, in general, is a world that requires both technical skill and emotional strength. That’s especially true in senior care, where professionals work closely with vulnerable populations and difficult stages of life.

This particular aspect of senior care is why hiring for resilience is such an important part of recruiting and talent strategy. It’s crucial to be sure you’re hiring individuals who have what it takes to manage the inevitable ups and downs of this line of work. Of course, resilience doesn’t come solely from individuals, but also from organizations as a whole; it’s only when both sides of the equation work together that you can build a reliable, healthy organization that cares for both clients and employees alike.


What to Look for When Hiring

How can you identify talent with resilience when you’re still in the hiring process? It’s a question that can be tricky to answer. After all, resilience tends to show itself over time, particularly over stressful times, and a series of interviews may not reveal everything you need to know.

In a field with so many unknowns as senior care, it’s important to incorporate some level of consideration of resilience into the hiring process. Hiring for resilience isn’t about trying to avoid risks or disruptions, but rather about hiring the right people who can manage those issues, minimize the effects, and find ways to solve the problems and resolve any disruptions.

You might look at a candidate’s previous experience to see if they’ve been in roles that have a comparable level of demand as the role in your organization and how well they succeeded there. You might ask their references about how well they’ve handled unexpected events or stressful disruptions. And, of course, you can get this information directly from the candidates themselves. Questions like the following can help you get a sense of whether resilience is a strength of your candidate’s:

  • Describe a situation where you felt defeated or failed at something – how did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?
  • What is your typical approach when you learn something has gone wrong?
  • Describe a time when you’ve had to adapt your way of doing things – what was the impetus, and how did you reorient your thinking?
  • How have you helped others on your team deal with challenges, either expected or unexpected?


Combatting Burnout, Improving Retention

There is a definitive link between resilience, burnout, and retention, particularly in a high-stress field like healthcare and senior care. According to recent studies, more than half of all healthcare workers admit to experiencing burnout, with the highest rates found among nursing staff (56%) and other clinical staff (54.1%). A large portion of this can be attributed to low staffing levels and high demand, leading to employees feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. The American Medical Association found that healthcare professionals who report experiencing an “overload” of work had 2.2 to 2.9 times the risk of experiencing burnout, as well as 1.7 to 2.1 times the risk of leaving their jobs within two years, compared to those who do not feel “overloaded.”

Resilience is not merely an internal trait; it’s something that can be part of your organizational culture. Building a culture of resilience requires giving employees the tools and support they need to stave off burnout, maintain engagement and productivity, and handle crises or stressors in a healthy way. Importantly, it also requires ensuring that employees have the time and space they need to decompress and “bounce back.”

If you’re looking to evaluate how well your organization is supporting resilience and well-being for your employees, consider asking yourself questions like the following:

  • Does your organization maintain adequate staffing levels, or are employees stretched too thin? If the latter, what active steps are you taking to rectify the situation?
  • Are your employees encouraged to care for themselves and take adequate rest?
  • Does leadership model a healthy, balanced approach to work?
  • Is your compensation package (including both salary and benefits) competitive for your field, and has it kept up with any changes in job duties?
  • Have you built a culture of mutual support and community?
  • Does your organization offer support and resources (internal and/or external) to help employees manage their stress and workload?

When you put resilience at the center of your talent strategy, you’re not just avoiding the costs of turnover down the line. You’re ensuring continuous, quality care for the clients you work with, and you’re building your employment reputation as an employer that prioritize the well-being of your team. At Aspen, we’re here to help you find the talent you need to drive success, ensure exceptional care, and lead the way to a culture of agility, community, and support. Talk to us to learn more about recruiting solutions for a more resilient future.

By Tom Zeleny, NHA