Residential aged care providers are not putting enough attention on strategic workforce management initiatives despite staff being the most expensive area of the business, an industry conference heard.

Human resource consultancy Realise Performance analysed and compared workforces in the aged care sector and the broader market over a 12-month period.

Recruiting and retaining the right staff, managing absenteeism and workforce planning continue to be major human resource challenges for the sector, said Realise Performance managing director Chris Westacott.

The analysis published in April found that 36 per cent of the providers surveyed tracked what happened to their staff and only 8 per cent tracked staff expenditure, he said.

Mr Westacott said providers needed to better manage their workforce planning.

Chris Westacott

“We are in a sector which is all about people and how we manage and plan our future workforce is key to our future sustainability,” Mr Westacott told the Leading Age Services Australia New South Wales State Conference last Thursday.

“We’ve got the balance between monitoring staff and money wrong. We’re thinking more about making sure we have a payroll system and spending money on care systems,” Mr Westacott said.

He said aged care providers needed to understand that most of their money goes out in payments to staff.

Growing the workforce

Elsewhere Mr Westacott said the aged care sector had moved towards hiring trained employees from other providers due to the lack of growth in the industry workforce.

“We need to grow our workforce, change our structures and we need to think about career pathways to engage people into the workforce more effectively.

“A lot of people come into aged care thinking there are a lot of jobs, but then they find there is nowhere to go,” he said.

People are also increasingly leaving the sector early on and while some are leaving for family reasons others leave because they’re not happy with where they are, Mr Westacott said.

“One of the biggest reasons people leave is due to a lack of leadership,” he said.

Negative perceptions from the community and media surrounding aged care work are also contributing to staffing issues by making the sector less appealing to the future workforce, Mr Westacott said.

The media is “scaring everyone from clients, families and staff away from working in an aged care organisation.”

Encouraging personal responsibility and accountability and ensuring policies are articulated clearly to staff are among the strategic human resource initiatives to enhance employee engagement and commitment, Mr Westacott said.

As are focusing on skills that allow the organisation and employees to succeed in the future and implementing systems that track the effectiveness of people and management strategies, he said.

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  1. Interesting article. I believe the key driver for engaging and developing Aged Care workforce is the ability of their immediate supervisor/manager’s coaching and mentoring skills. Unfortunately many of the senior Aged Cars staff have been promoted to managerial positions and given little or no training in people management. More often than not, these managers do not take their roles as coaches seriously. I believe organisations where there is a culture of coaching and feedback coupled with strong management support where systems and processes are implemented will be streaks ahead of those who do not take coaching and mentoring seriously.

  2. How can we have the Person-centred care, that we should be having in Residential Aged Care Facilities when there is an allocated amount of staff hired for the bed ratio in a facility? It just doesn’t work especially if there are so many doubles and assists.

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