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10 HR Challenges Facing Senior Living Communities

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 03/01/2022

nurse helping senior

Table of Contents

Nurses and caregivers are leaving the senior living industry to find less stressful work in other areas of healthcare, leaving fewer personnel to care for residents which, in turn, makes it difficult to maintain full occupancy and business growth. Additionally, the high turnover rate may have increased labor expenses for your business, putting pressure on you to increase wages or sign-on bonuses to attract and retain talent.

Unfortunately, finding and retaining qualified staff is just one of the many challenges you face as a senior living leader. You may also be dealing with the compliance, health insurance, and other HR issues. With this in mind, mastering your HR challenges is likely a high priority for your business to drive employee retention, quality service, and occupancy.

Here are some recommendations for tackling the top HR issues:

1. Navigating the Ongoing Talent Shortage

The American Health Care Association reported that over 95 percent of nursing homes and assisted living communities dealt with staff shortages in 2021. To set yourself apart from your competitors and win the war for the best talent, you need to offer comprehensive compensation and benefits packages and project a strong brand image to draw high-quality candidates throughout the recruiting and hiring process.

2. Streamlining the Hiring Process

The senior living industry demands strict, well-documented, and highly regulated preemployment screening practices. And the more a hiring manager knows about a candidate’s professional history, the more informed and quicker a decision can be made. Hiring the right candidates, who are qualified for the position and who are a good fit for your operation, can lead to higher retention rates and result in more engaged employees who are highly productive.

3. Offering Competitive Compensation

A competitive compensation program is critical to attracting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing employees. Without a proper compensation analysis, senior living community leaders run the risk of underpaying employees. If you are underpaying your people, you will likely have issues with retention, particularly in the current environment where the labor market is tight, and where companies are competing for a limited supply of skilled talent.

4. Developing Talent From Within

Investing in employee development fosters greater engagement and commitment while also creating a pool of “ready-now” people to step into other open positions within the organization. Talent management should be a critical component of your broader workforce management strategy because recruiting, training, retaining, and promoting the right people are essential steps in reaching your staffing goals.

5. Sustaining Employee Motivation and Engagement

Motivated and engaged employees may be more likely to provide the best service and quality of care to residents, which in turn drives resident satisfaction and occupancy rates. Understanding what is important to employees and how to best engage them to create a positive, productive work environment is foundational to increasing both employee performance and productivity. This requires understanding the diversity in your workforce and what can motivate and inspire each individual or group of individuals.

6. Providing Cost-Effective and Competitive Benefits

Providing competitive medical benefits has become a growing challenge for senior living leaders given the rising costs of health insurance. And if you’re operating with communities in multiple states, you may have multiple renewal dates and different carriers, making it difficult to maintain compliance with federal and state health insurance continuation laws and bill reconciliations. Being offered affordable health insurance may be a significant factor for both potential new hires considering coming on board and your current staff. And while you may understand the advantages of offering group health insurance as part of your benefits package, you’ll need to consider plan costs, setup, and ongoing management.

7. Operating in Multiple Locations

Senior living communities who have expanded to operate across multiple states encounter complexities related to time-consuming state employment tax filings and challenges with maintaining compliance. These are specialized skills that take time and resources. As you navigate the complexities of state employment tax filings, it’s important to consult with professionals who can help you stay informed.

8. Staying Compliant with Evolving Employment Laws and Regulations

Employment laws and regulations continue to change and expand, making it more challenging to stay compliant today than it has ever been before. Consider what it takes to stay up-to-date with employment laws in areas such as wage and hour laws, anti-discrimination laws, and paid sick leave.

9. Maintaining an Ethical Culture and Brand Identity

Employees want to work for companies that have a purpose beyond the bottom line and that have policies and processes (such as handbooks and training programs) that create a culture of accountability. Creating a positive, ethical work environment is imperative to attracting new employees to your organization.

10. Creating a Scalable HR Team

Having an internal HR department creates a fixed cost on your balance sheet and can be harder to scale up or down as the needs of the business change. For instance, the lag between realizing you need additional staff, and the ability of your new staffer to reach full efficiency can take as long as a year. Not only that, managing HR complexities can distract you from the work that needs to get done in order to provide high-quality service and care for your residents. What strategy would work best for your business: having a team in-house or outsourcing one?

How Paychex Can Help

As the business landscape continues to change, the HR-related demands on senior living communities will only continue to increase. Now more than ever, it’s vital to find new ways to attract and retain talent top talent in today’s labor shortage and be prepared for other HR challenges.

Paychex HR can help you navigate your current and future HR challenges with the help of our comprehensive suite of HR solutions designed to scale with your business over time.

Download our full guide on senior living challenges to learn more about the implications of these HR challenges for your business and get tips on how you can tackle them.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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