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Work-life balance key to retaining aged care staff


Aged care providers need to implement flexible working arrangements to boost staff morale and retention, delegates at a national industry congress have heard.

Jessica Fischer, a partner with employment law firm FCB Workplace Law, told the LASA National Congress that it was important for the sector to be more practical towards work schedules to better support the lifestyle needs of staff.

“The most important thing for employees is that they can balance meaningful work with the choices they need for their individual lives,” Ms Fischer told Australian Ageing Agenda at the Adelaide conference.

Leave arrangements, time off in lieu of overtime, work location, adjustments in start and finish times, split shifts, voluntary or self-managed rosters approved by managers and adjustable breaks, training and meeting hours are among the areas aged care providers can become more flexible in, Ms Fischer said.

Ms Fischer said flexible work arrangements could help providers attract and retain the staff they needed across skill levels and ultimately reduce recruiting needs.

Jessica Fischer

“If flexible work arrangements can be deployed and deployed well in meeting the needs of the organisation and individuals, it should improve retention and lower absenteeism,” Ms Fischer said.

Flexible working arrangements can also increase productivity, reduce staffing costs and minimise disputes within facilities, Ms Fischer said.

Having work arrangement that suits staff needs can also lead to better care for residents, Ms Fischer said.

Staff are more likely to feel like what they do makes a difference to residents if they are have a good work-life balance, she said.

Having inflexible work schedules can negatively impact staff, Ms Fischer said.

“Some of the lifestyle choices that go with working shift work can be difficult and have downsides on people’s physical and mental wellbeing,” she said.

Building the right workforce

Elsewhere at the conference, UK-based international speaker Neil Eastwood addressed aged care staffing shortages and how to successfully keep and build the workforce.

Poor staff retention comes from a lack of motivation and engagement issues among staff, said Mr Eastwood, the founder of recruitment tool Sticky People and author of Saving Social Care.

“Staff are leaving early because they are not happy when they’re there,” Mr Eastwood said.

Neil Eastwood

He said welcoming staff and making them feel valued when they begin their employment will reduce staff turnover in the long-term.

“The early period of a care worker’s life in an aged care organisation is the most important period to improve long-term retention,” Mr Eastwood said.

Sending welcome cards when a person accepts the job, ensuring the facility is a friendly environment and that staff are smiling at work are among the strategies providers can implement to ensure staff feel valued, he said.

Mr Eastwood said hiring staff through word of mouth and employee referrals can also help retain care workers long term.

Employee referrals come from staff who know “the values of your organisation and they know exactly who is a caring person,” Mr Eastwood said.

He said valuing connections and making efforts to find the right staff are more effective than quick and convenient recruitment processes.

The LASA National Congress takes place in Adelaide from October 28-30.

Read more from LASA National Congress

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Providers told to set up ‘war room’ as royal commission looms

Prepare for challenging times, congress told

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2 Responses to Work-life balance key to retaining aged care staff

  1. Anonymous October 30, 2018 at 10:34 am #

    To certain degree I agree here One thing missed here is the hours of work allocated to staff mainly direct care providers these days Providers recruit more new staff do not credit those existing staff thus minimum hours giving 3.5hrs a day!Staff are crying out for more hours Managements turning blind to the needs!This caused causing Working Poor in the Community Care! Managements are managing Poorly Not looking out for their Direct Care staff Who are the Ones directly providing cares to clients!

  2. Frances October 30, 2018 at 9:49 pm #

    Managers don’t look after good staff, even long term employees, although greatly staffed by women over 50 ageism is obvious. They don’t want old school carers, young staff don’t like to be told anything, if you say something they don’t like your bullying them, Managers also say it’s too hard to get rid of staff that are obviously not really interested in the job, Why ? Until the training process is looked at to make aged care a career and not a job, flexible hours etc will make no difference it needs to go back to basics.

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