Last month, we followed LASA Victoria’s 10 days in July series with interest. In particular, the workforce issue caught our attention, highlighting challenges currently faced by the sector.

The aged care workforce has received a lot of attention recently, and rightly so. As the Aged Care Road Map outlines, one of the key features of a sustainable consumer-driven aged care market is a well-led, flexible and responsive workforce.

What action can providers take in the face of on-going recruitment and retention challenges?

The attraction, retention and engagement of employees that are highly competent and culturally aligned, should be a strategic focus for organisations. And in considering this, employer branding is a crucial tactic that needs to be embraced by all.

The aged care workforce crisis.

It is no secret that aged care is facing a workforce crisis. And some might also say that Australia is therefore facing an aged care crisis.

The aged care workforce will need to grow from 300,000 to 800,000 by 2050, as the number of Australians expected to use services rapidly increases. These numbers should be concerning, especially given the existing recruitment and retention challenges faced by aged care providers.

LASA states:

“The difficulties faced by aged care providers in attracting and retaining workers will increase as the industry grows and competition for these workers increases.”

It is clear that, unless growing workforce challenges are addressed, they will have profound implications on those operating in the sector and thus on Australia’s ageing population.

The importance of employer branding in aged care.

There are two factors at play when considering why aged care providers should focus on employer branding, to solve the aged care workforce crisis.

The first is the need to grow the sector workforce rapidly to ensure the sustainability of the aged care system. Traditionally, the sector has not done the best job of promoting the benefits of working in aged care. There is increasing pressure on providers to position care as an attractive and viable career choice.

In the future envisaged by The Aged Care Roadmap, the sector needs to be considered a desirable and rewarding place to work. Providers have an important role to play in this.

The second factor is the increasing competition for care staff. According to the LASA 10 days in July workforce issue, there are over 2,000 aged care providers in Australia all competing for the same workforce resources. With the introduction of Consumer Directed Care, value dynamics become increasingly important; the strength of the relationships that providers, and in particular their care staff, build with customers is key in creating customer loyalty.

Attracting the best carers is vital for providers looking to gain a competitive advantage.

Employer branding explained.

Employer branding can be defined as the image of an organisation as an employer and place to work, as perceived internally and externally. The ultimate goal of employer branding is that current and potential employees, and referrers inside and outside of your industry, all think your company is the best place to work.

In his article on employer branding and social media, Rhod Ellis-Jones, outlines some key aspects of employer branding, including the following points:

  • Branding is about the emotional attachment a person has with a company – its name, its image, its messaging. Make emotion central to the message.
  • The message needs to mirror reality. New employees won’t hang around if they’ve been sold a lemon. And that means double the cost of recruitment and disruption of your employee and customer relationships as you head to market again. If you can’t hold staff, don’t hire them. It’s too damaging to your reputation.
  • To credibly claim leadership you need to demonstrate it: share enough IP and cultural insight to get people talking and take the practice forward. Your leaders need to be visible at conferences and in the press. The foundation of a good employer brand is a management team that encourages and rewards the development and sharing of knowledge.
  • All employer branding activity must be focused on outcomes – branding activity must not compromise productivity. All communication activities need to be linked to HR processes and reporting.
  • Employer branding is as much about attracting staff as keeping them. Employees need to be telling the story – if they’re not, the promise is hollow. The cost of hiring recruiters and advertisers is very high so the more employees use their networks to attract new people and the longer they hang around, the more you’ll save.

Employer branding in practice.

We have applied our strategic approach to employer branding in an number of projects across health and ageing. Over the last few months, we have been working with The Women’s – Australia’s first and leading specialist hospital for the health and wellbeing of women and newborns – to develop and activate their unique employer brand. The purpose of our work was to position The Women’s as an organisation of significance and an employer of choice – an organisation where skilled professionals in a range of professions can build a career with meaning.

To do this in a way that reflects the unique experience of working at The Women’s, we reviewed existing employee and consumer research, conducted research with employees, developed the employer brand identity and distilled what we found into a unifying concept – a simple idea that captures audience interest, influences their emotional response and inspires them into taking action. We can’t tell you what that concept is just yet, but keep an eye out for it very soon!

In taking a strategic approach to the development and implementation of employer branding, aged care providers can successfully differentiate themselves from competitors and effectively attract and retain the best care workers. Through strong employer branding, providers can play a leading role in promoting the aged care sector as an attractive career choice to the future workforce.

Talk to us about developing your unique employer brand.