Skilled nursing providers are facing a workforce crisis, with facilities fiercely competing to attract top nursing talent.
In fact, among wide-ranging labor challenges, attracting frontline nursing and aide workers is a particular pain point, according to survey findings released earlier this year from provider association LeadingAge.
Kimberly Nolet, a research program manager at the Center for Aging Research and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing, recently shared some tips and best practices for skilled nursing providers, to help them attract and hire top nursing talent.
Here are some key takeaways she shared at the annual LeadingAge conference in New Orleans:
Craft a compelling job listing
It’s important for SNFs to engage in some self-reflection and define what characteristics would make a nurse a good fit for the organization, Nolet said. Leaders at the facility should consider asking nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) already on staff for their feedback on this question.
The facility leaders can then determine what they can offer to attract and win over that type of nurse, and include this specific information in a job description. This should help the listing stand out from others and give the job applicant a more vivid idea of what it is like to work at that specific community.
In addition, research has identified a number of key concepts that are important to nurses, and there are effective ways that SNFs can address these concepts in job listings and interviews, Nolet said.
For instance, the “ability to provide high-quality care” is, unsurprisingly, a key concept that is important to nurses. Citing strong family and resident satisfaction scores or quotes, touting nurse-led improvement initiatives, or crafting a strong mission statement that emphasizes care quality are all ways a SNF can show it is a place where nurses will be able to provide high-quality care.
Long-term care providers also need to be aware of who they’re competing against for workers in their markets and make sure their job listings stack up favorably.
“Nurses have a plethora of jobs in front of them,” Nolet noted. “Is there something they’re going to see early on in that advertisement, such as we have a structured mentorship program? They don’t expect to see that in long-term care settings, so they’re going to be excited to see, they’re offering me some of the same things the hospital is offering me.”
Ace the screening and interview process
Deciding which candidates to focus on is another important facet of the recruitment process. SNFs and other long-term care providers should think about who is screening the applicants and on what criteria, Nolet emphasized.
There are few perfect candidates, so providers should honestly assess how well they can work with particular types of applicants. For instance, do they have the resources to bring on newly graduated nurses who will want and need more robust mentorship and training? If not, the SNF likely will see high turnover if it hires new grads.
In both choosing and interviewing applicants, it’s helpful to keep in mind that skills can be taught but it’s harder to change people’s attitudes and values, Nolet said. So, interviews that are more focused on assessing skills rather than attitudes might not be the most helpful in identifying the best new hires.
Showing flexibility in scheduling the interview also helps make a good impression with applicants, she noted. And when prospective hires arrive, the front desk should be a great ambassador for the building and roll out a welcome mat—not leave the applicant waiting for long periods of time.
Involving a few different people with various job roles in the screening and interview process can pay dividends, as these staff members then tend to be more invested in the success of the new hire, Nolet said. In a similar vein, allowing applicants to speak with staff members who will be their colleagues as well as the facility leadership often makes a good impression.
Finally, busy workers at a SNF should take a moment to compose themselves and rely on their common sense before conducting an interview, Nolet said. Walking into an interview holding a stack of binders and appearing frazzled is not best way to make an impression, for example.
“These are all things we know but sometimes forget about and do,” she said.
Written by Tim Mullaney