Report offers 12 worker insights to support decision-making

The ACWIC’s Frontline Insights from Aged Care Workers provides 12 key insights and advice to aid workforce planning.

Men working in aged care are more likely to be happy with their pay and workload than their female counterparts, according to a new report bringing together the demographics and views of workers to aid workforce planning.

The Aged Care Workforce Industry Council report – Frontline Insights from Aged Care Workers – explores data from 172,000 workplace survey responses from 2009 to 2022 to deliver 12 key insights with related advice for providers.

It shows the workforce is getting younger, with 26 per cent of the sector’s workers now aged 26-35 compared to 16 per cent five years ago. And more than half of aged care workers surveyed are born outside of Australia (52 per cent) with more than two in five having a first language other than English for (42 per cent).

These insights – which include the reasons people work, remain and leave the sector – are based on aged care worker sentiments from the Aged Care Census Database, which is produced by BPA Analytics in partnership with ACWIC.

Sarah McLelland

ACWIC interim chief executive officer Sarah McLelland said providers can use the information in this report and Aged Care Census Database to develop an enhanced appreciation of how to attract and retain staff.

“This report contains sentiments from over 170,000 worker survey responses. That is a large and powerful cohort of voices – and they have rich and pertinent information to share on how they find working in the aged care sector,” Ms McLelland told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“Alongside the data, the insights contain practical ideas that providers can apply to develop more creative and competitive employee value propositions.”

Men more satisfied than women

Source: Frontline Insights from Aged Care Workers

Among the insights, the report shows the proportion of workers considering their pay fair for the work they do has been on the decline since 2016-18. With a 15 per cent pay rise from July – that the government confirmed today will be fully funded – time will tell if it shifts the views in a positive direction.

And while making up a smaller portion of the workforce, male workers are more likely to be happy with their pay (56 per cent) and workload (58 per cent) than female workers (48 per cent and 53 percent respectively). It is not known how pay levels compare between the men and women in the same role because the BPA Analytics aged care employee surveys do not collect data on rates of pay or whether employees are employed under an award, Ms McClelland said.

However, aged care workers were asked several questions regarding elements of their work including flexibility and wages, such as:

  • my organisation provides adequate flexibility in the hours/shifts I work
  • my organisation provides workloads that are fair and equitable
  • my organisation provides a fair’s day pay for a fair day’s work
  • my organisation provides appropriate remuneration for the responsibilities that I have

“We saw a difference in the responses of men and women for each of these statements,” Ms McLelland said. “Looking at the data by role family to understand if there was a difference between role type or seniority – for example nurses, direct care workers, catering and cleaning staff, executive and managers – we saw that men in each role family rated their employer higher on nearly every single statement when compared to their female counterparts,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the survey does not provide further data to understand the difference observed between the genders,” Ms McLelland added.

Why people work, remain and leave the sector

But it does provide a range of other information to better understand aged care workers including the reasons people choose to work in aged care. The top three reasons are working with clients (19 per cent), good reputation (11 per cent) and good location (10 per cent).

Most people stay working in aged care because of the clients (26 per cent), they enjoy it (19 per cent) and love it (16 per cent). On the other hand, the most common recent reasons employees report leaving their current employer were retirement (11 per cent), poor management (10 per cent), and being underpaid (8 per cent).

The report shows the percentage of aged care employees who often think of leaving their organisation had been reducing until Covid times when it began to increase again.

Other key insights include:

  • aged care workers report the top four priorities of their managers are honesty (23 per cent), respect (19 per cent), reliability (16 per cent), and work ethic (15 per cent)
  • aged care workers rank their managers’ leadership style as predominantly approachable (21 per cent), fair (17 per cent), caring (16 per cent) and supportive (16 per cent)
  • 42 per cent of those recently surveyed say their employer retained ‘quality staff’, compared to 34 per cent 10 years ago.

Access to Frontline Insights from Aged Care Workers and the Aged Care Census Database is available free via the ACWIC website until 30 June 2023 when the current funding agreement ends.

“I encourage all aged care providers to use the Frontline Insights from Aged Care Workers to inform their workforce planning, and support their current employees to ensure they can continue to deliver quality care to older Australians,” Ms McLelland said.

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Tags: acwic, frontline insights from aged care workers, sarah mclelland, workforce,

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