Several concepts and statistics exist about the overall aging of the world population. With that demographic shift comes an increased need for senior care and assisted living professionals to meet the needs of a growing number of aging seniors. At the same time, the field has been undergoing a talent contraction as more employees reach burnout or find less-demanding careers elsewhere.

That’s why it’s important for senior care and assisted living organizations to cultivate a younger generation of professionals. Attracting younger talent ensures the sustainability and quality of senior care, but it may also require a shift in your recruiting and retention approach.

Understanding the Motivations of Younger Generations

To effectively shape a talent strategy around younger generations, it’s essential first to understand what motivates them.  Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that “Millennials are a highly progressive, empathetic generation that was the first to integrate moral values into the workplace: striving to only work in environments that aligned with their core socio-political values, even at the cost of a pay-cut.” In their careers, Millennials often prioritize flexibility, teamwork, the chance to learn new skills and develop their careers, and a diverse, inclusive environment.

The same study described Gen Z as “the generation of truth, exploration, and identity (or lack thereof). Gen Z is driven by an insatiable hunger for underlying truths and seeks freedom from confining labels that limit any exploration of these truths… Gen Z has no problem leaving a company or business that contrasts with their beliefs.” Similar to Millennials, Gen Z’ers seek inclusive, transparent work environments that prioritize their career development and meaningful work.

A desire for teamwork, meaningful work, and career development can attract Millennial and Gen Z professionals into the senior care field. Appealing to these generations means highlighting how important and impactful their work can be, both for the clients and colleagues they serve.

Growth, Support, and Innovation

Attracting talent from younger generations requires a future-thinking approach. These professionals are early in their careers or the early-middle stages, so they’re thinking about “what comes next?” for them. That’s why highlighting career growth opportunities is important to appealing to these candidates. If your organization offers support for continuing education, mentorship, certifications, specialized training, or similar programs, highlight it in your recruiting approach. Senior care can be a rewarding career, personally and financially, but younger employees may need a little help to see their long-term futures.

In addition to thinking about the future, Millennial and Gen Z employees are thinking about the environment they work in now – and that means a positive, inclusive environment that offers opportunities to grow. For instance, 80% of Gen Z employees surveyed by LinkedIn reported being most likely to look for new opportunities aligning with their values. In comparison, 76% prioritize opportunities that offer room to learn and grow. Gen Z also is the generation most likely to leave a job over a lack of flexible work.

For the senior care profession, these priorities must be balanced with the job’s needs. Remote work, for instance, is not likely to be possible in most senior care roles; instead, focus on building a supportive, inclusive work environment where employees work together to better serve clients and avoid the omnipresent threat of burnout. Other perks might include wellness programs, flexible scheduling where possible, and mental health support.

Another strategy might involve highlighting the possibilities of new technology. From cutting-edge medical advancements to new horizons in management and administration, a surprising number of advancements are happening in the senior care field, and many younger would-be candidates don’t even know about it! When recruiting from this pool, emphasize how technology is helping to transform the field and how different roles can play a part in innovating even better ways to care for clients. This approach combines two crucial factors for younger employees: tech innovation and meaningful work.

Effective Recruiting Strategies

If your organization has these elements, the next step is reaching prospective employees where they are. Depending on the location, level, and type of role, your approach might vary, but some strategies might include:

  • Social media campaigns, such as “day in the life” campaigns to show candidates what working in senior care is really like
  • Partnerships with educational institutions
  • Establishing a clear employer brand
  • Drawing on networks of internships, apprenticeships, volunteers, and other related pools of talent who might consider turning their interest into a full-fledged career
  • Hiring an experienced recruiter, like Aspen, to connect with a vast pool of talent, including passive talent.

Building a strong employer brand that resonates with the values of younger generations is critical to recruiting the next generation of senior care talent. By focusing on their top priorities, like career growth and meaningful work, you will be well positioned to find the talent you need to continue your mission of providing exceptional care for many more years to come.

Aspen Associates can help with your senior care staffing needs, particularly for in-demand leadership roles. Contact us to learn more.


By Tom Zeleny, NHA