Working mothers form a large portion of the senior care, assisted living, and other healthcare and caregiving professions. When it comes to recruiting these valuable employees, however, companies need to keep in mind the unique needs of this demographic. Recruiting and retaining talent is all about building a culture where they feel welcomed and valued.

Caregiving has always had an image of being a profession that is historically predominantly female, and the statistics continue to bear that out today. As recently as 2018, one study found that 89% of health care workers in the senior living industry are women, and 40% of the field falls in the 30 to 49 age range.

That means that a large segment of the profession overlaps with a demographic that many working moms with kids at home fall into as well. As a result, it’s a field where many employees face the challenges of being a working mom and living up to expectations professionally and personally. One 2020 study found that women working in healthcare, including senior care and assisted living, face three broad categories of challenges: “challenges faced in balancing work and family responsibilities; challenges faced due to workplace issues such as lack of supportive policies and gender equality; and challenges faced in stereotyping of working women.”

Because of these challenges, it can be particularly tricky to recruit working moms into a field like senior care and assisted living. Flexibility is a major factor in employment decisions for working moms, who often find themselves juggling multiple commitments. For caring professions, however, that can become more difficult. Unlike “desk” jobs that are relatively easy to transition to hybrid or remote positions, professionals working in senior care and assisted living facilities have the majority of their duties happening actually on site. That flexibility, however, can mean the difference between being able to recruit top candidates and having them turn down positions.

So what can flexibility mean for site-specific jobs in senior care? One solution is simply to ensure that there is adequate staff to ensure everyone can work reasonable hours. While many caregiving staff have their own specialties, a degree of cross-training can also alleviate some stress and provide a bit more flexibility to cover when one person needs to call out or flex their hours.

In general, it’s about building a culture of care among staff, not just towards residents and patients. Companies that work with staff – including working moms – to understand and meet their needs are much likelier to attract and retain top talent. Supporting moms in their careers is just as important, too. Some of the concerns facing working moms have nothing to do with individual employers and everything to do with larger societal issues and perceptions. While a single facility can’t change the world, they just might be able to shift the needle a bit, and when we all work together, we can create a better and more welcoming profession.

By Tom Zeleny, NHA