Gen Z: The answer to care industry staff shortages?

A study conducted last year revealed that the level of vacant roles and turnover rates within the care sector are the highest they’ve ever been. One of the main factors for this is the ageing population – more people are reaching ages 85+ and are suffering from more complex health issues. The higher levels of dependability means the need for social care services is intensifying and there isn’t a large enough workforce to meet this demand.

The population of people aged over 65 is forecast to increase by 40% by 2035 and as a result, an additional 650,000 jobs will be required to meet this demand. Almost a quarter (24%) of the current workforce are aged over 55 - meaning that they are likely to retire within the next 10 years - a harsh reality that is putting more pressure on staff shortages. So why not target and utilise a younger generation?

Enter Generation Z - a generation renowned for their dedication to hard work, loyalty and desire for independency and job stability. Youngsters can fill the staff storage gap in the care industry

As it stands, there are currently over 110,000 vacant roles within the care industry, alongside an estimated turnover rate of 30.7%. The high level of staff shortage is putting the sector in crisis and adding increased pressure on an already overstretched industry. People are entering care at a younger age more recently - whether this be to retirement villages, assisted living or aged care facilities - and employment levels are failing to meet the necessary requirements.

So, what can employers be doing to attract and retain staff within the care industry? Gen Zs’ unique traits should encourage employers within the care industry to adapt and explore new avenues to fill worker shortages. In this article, Blueleaf discusses the challenges and potential solutions faced by the industry, what can be done to meet the demands of the staff shortage crisis and how to attract Gen Z to a career within care.           

Understand recognition is the key to retention

It is clear that employers are struggling to find, recruit and retain suitable people to the sector and within specific roles. Recognition is the key to retaining staff - by recognising and rewarding hard work, your workers will feel valued. Feeling valued, recognised and respected is within some of the top reasons for employers staying at their current place of work, so is definitely an aspect to take advantage of. Unlike millennials, who enjoy working collaboratively as a team and sharing successes, Gen Zs prefer to be judged on their own achievements and have their individual talents recognised and showcased.

Ditch zero-hour contracts and agencies

A quarter of the workforce (25%) were on a zero-hours contract (335,000 jobs), and as Gen Zs crave job security, this is not an appealing aspect to them. Not only do zero-hour contracts encourage a low sense of commitment and collaboration amongst workers, they also offer a huge income risk and uncertainty of what a worker will earn month to month.

Due to such a high level of staff shortages, many care establishments are turning to agencies for temporary staff. This is an expensive and tedious process and one that can be avoided with sensible hiring decisions.

According to Thomas International, the average cost of recruiting a new employee is circa £30,000, so is a large cost in an industry with such high turnover rates. Recruiting and retaining competent staff will not only reduce costs, but will boost productivity. If people within the care industry work hard at repositioning it as a rewarding and viable career options amongst Gen Z, the need for zero-hour contracts and agency staff will slowly deteriorate; which will reduce costs and boost productivity.   

Provide relevant training for the care industry

In addition to offering permanent and stable working hours, Gen Zs are also looking for an employer who can provide structured career progression. This generation has grown up in a world where everything is customisable; through the click of a button, they can identify their personal preferences and mould their experiences to suit these and this is an attribute they are looking to adopt within their career.

As well as feeling recognised and valued, career growth, learning and development is an important factor amongst talented employees - so promoting this within a care career amongst Gen Zs is advantageous. Gen Zs are less money-driven than millenials and are looking for more than just a salary, making them the ideal candidates for a role within care. They are seeking meaningful jobs which will offer opportunities for advancement alongside the opportunity to learn new skills.

Consider the benefits of utilising software solutions

This generation is more tech-savvy than their millennial predecessors, so take advantage of this to enhance productivity. Older generations are reluctant to change and don’t want to switch to electronic systems; administrative work hinders employees' ability to focus their attention on residents, but certain software solution systems have the ability to strip out old paper-based processes. Adopting and implementing cloud-based solutions and other forms of technology to enhance productivity, encourage employee well-being and increase productivity is definitely something to consider.

Care management software solutions can help to reduce the pressure on employees by assisting with budgeting, day-to-day care planning, new client assessments, electronic care planning and record keeping.

Additionally, adopting an online HR management system will provide your employees with access to essential information they need, as well as the ability to request and amend records - a valuable perk that makes a huge difference to productivity.

Whether it’s requesting annual leave, swapping shifts with colleagues or recording absences, online systems will allow for enhanced efficiency. Gen Zs desire the flexibility to structure work around their lives and have the ability to take time off for a family emergency without having to go through a tedious process.

The staff shortages aren’t just related to direct care roles, which make up 76% of jobs within adult social care, there are many vacancies within managerial roles such as line managers and supervisors, as well as care and ancillary staff - within both local authorities and the independent sector. This reality means that staff shortages are causing an impact on patient care and is a problem that needs to be solved sooner rather than later.

Repositioning the care industry and the various different roles as a valued, rewarding career option amongst Gen Zs is one step towards solving the staff shortage in the care industry.