For college students studying hospitality or similar fields, senior living isn’t always the first program they will jump to when given the choice, but when concentrating on the right methods, companies can win over and retain millennials.
Senior living leaders and universities from around the country weighed in on what they are doing to pique the interest of millennials to pursue a career in senior living in the recent Senior Housing News report, “The Next Generation: Strategies to Attract and Develop Senior Living’s Future Leaders.”
Supporting and investing into attracting the next generation of professionals in the industry will help to ensure the longevity of the industry as support the transition of baby boomers into retirement. As of right now, the industry will have to recruit 1.2 million new employees by 2025, according to a report by industry trade association Argentum.
“We’re facing some real leadership challenges,” Kevin Heffner, director of external relations at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County (UMBC)/ Erickson School, told SHN. “Some of the titans of the industry are retiring. We’re doing the best we can to develop leaders to fill that void.
As a part of the report, a survey was conducted between April 2016 to May 2016 of 124 university and graduate students enrolled in a senior living-related program. The study revealed how college and graduate students view their futures in the senior living industry and what drives them to succeed at a company.
A key takeaway from the report found that senior living companies should initiate partnerships with local universities to bring more of an awareness to the industry, and should take steps to implement internships and other best practices for attracting strong workers.
The vast majority of university and graduate students found out about senior living as a career option through their university or school’s program, followed by friends or family who work in the industry already, the survey found.
Millennial university and graduate students are tech-savvy and, once interested in the industry, are mainly searching for job opportunities online through sites like Indeed and LinkedIn. Posting only on individual company websites may not be the best way to reach the next generation anymore.
The survey also revealed that students are interested in networking to find job opportunities, which could be in person or online via LinkedIn.
Further supporting companies who have solid values that align with their employees, millennials are seeking employers with values similar to their own, according to findings from The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016.
Feeling a sense of purpose in the environment they are working in makes students feel more engaged on the job as well as when they are collaborating as a team, the Senior Housing News report found. Having a distinct career path and participating in a reward or recognition program within the company followed.
Encouraging continuing education, which can be either a master’s program or an internal certification program, as well as displaying a clear pathway to leadership roles are ways to keep fresh college graduates tuned in. This will also let them know that the company is paying attention to them and their career growth. With retention a top challenge for the senior living sector, companies may be wise to take these steps to keep their young workforce on board for the long-haul–something that conventional wisdom says could be difficult.
That’s because it is thought that Millennials are indifferent about work and are simply in it for the hours and this leads to the idea that millennials are job hoppers. But this isn’t necessarily true, according to a Gallup report.
“Many millennials likely don’t want to switch jobs, but their company is not giving them compelling reasons to stay,” according to Gallup. “When they see what appears to be a better opportunity, they have every incentive to take it. While millennials can come across as wanting more and more, the reality is that they just want a job that feels worthwhile—and they will keep looking until they find it.”
Editors note: The full report “The Next Generation: Strategies to Attract and Develop Senior Living’s Future Leaders,” including complete survey findings, is available through the Senior Housing News Resource Library.
Written by Alana Stramowski