September 2021, Rose Saenz, Vice President of Workforce Development, TALA

Working to understand why recruiting frontline staff is so difficult

Driving around town, help wanted signs are everywhere! So where is everyone? According to the Texas Labor Market Review as of August 2021, the Help Wanted Online Index (HWOI) has increased 9.1% from just last month. Wage and Salary employment increased over the month in July by 80,900 jobs with 10 of 11 major industries adding jobs. The unemployment rate has dropped to 6.2% in Texas with 876,900 people unemployed.
Supply and demand is not in sync. Texas HWOI shows there are 1.2 unemployed for every job posted. So where is everyone?

The pandemic has shifted priorities for frontline staff. As discovered in TALA’s report Exploring Retention: A Tale Of Two Perspectives, caregiver wages are important in choosing to stay in the industry. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of caregivers surveyed agreed they want to stay in the senior living industry. The key is they want higher wages while there.
To make matters more challenging, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics reports the number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or longer) decreased to 3.4 million but is 2.3 million higher than at the start of the pandemic in February of 2020. To dig a bit deeper, another 1,500 jobs in the month of July lost residential care facilities, bringing the total loss to 380,000 since the start of the pandemic. Health care employment is down by 502,000 since February 2020.

It’s no wonder the senior living industry is feeling the squeeze in staffing. The workforce to choose from has shrunk significantly. Current job seekers for frontline positions have the advantage to choose the ideal job with ideal pay and the ideal schedules to meet their needs.

A quick review of your application process may help

Consider what a frontline job seekers experience is like when applying for today’s high demand jobs.

  • Is your application process online and quick to complete using a mobile device or is it cumbersome? Applicants are known to jump off if the process is not mobile friendly.
  • Do you require they upload a resume? Not all applicants have access to a computer or easily can convert documents to a PDF.
  • Are you requiring candidates complete an online questionnaire in the application process? If so, can it be moved to a later time such as before a scheduled interview or hire date? Data from online application systems shows candidates drop off the process when it is too lengthy to complete.
  • What is your response time to applicants? Time is essential in connecting with a new applicant. Data shows an increased chance in hiring with a faster response time.
  • Are you able to text to communicate with candidates? Today’s job seekers are quicker to respond over text.
  • Do you offer virtual interviews? This not only saves time but can be convenient for jobseekers and give you a time advantage for candidates to learn why your organization stands out.
  • Finally, and just as important, are your wages competitive to your market? Are you highlighting benefits and flexibility in schedules? TALA’s survey and others indicate how important these areas are for frontline candidates.

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