Your workforce: where do you want it to be?
Written by Lauranne Beernaert, Sector Support Coordinator
Last month’s Aged Care Budget and published reforms was received with mixed feelings by the Sector. Our article about the Federal Budget acknowledged the pressure on our workforce, and how the Sector will be required to go the extra mile, once again, with the same limited resources. On the brighter side, we know that the Government has adopted several recommendations from the Royal Commission Final Report which look at aged care workforce planning and career pathways.
We acknowledge that this won’t happen overnight, but the Sector should not wait for these bodies to be established and recommendations to be implemented. At the service provider’s level, we anticipate there will be an increased need for visibility and data around workforce, so we need to start preparing for it now.
1. What do we know about aged care workers’ intentions to leave/stay in their job?
A recent report from HESTA, a superannuation fund dedicated to health and community services examined the experiences, job intentions and general industry outlook of health professionals, and highlighted interesting findings about the aged care workforce:
|TOP 3 reasons to leave their employers||TOP 3 reasons to stay with their employer|
Aligning with the above findings, the top 3 most effective staff retention strategies in a recent study by the Australian HR Institute are:
- effective leadership and management
- positive workplace/culture
- opportunities for career progression
The key role of good leadership and management and organisational culture in retaining staff is not a surprise, and was discussed in our recent article about Leadership. With COVID-19, the HESTA report reveals an improved general sentiment towards their employers and the Sector in general, but also shows alarming figures:
32% to 38% of aged care employees are unlikely to recommend their
employers or a career in the Sector.
That is why it is essential that service providers start/continue to focus their energy in understanding and planning for their workforce.
2. What does the NDIS National Workforce Plan say?
It is recognised that the NDIS and the aged care sectors are highly connected, and that many service providers operate across both programs due to the transferable skills of aged care and disability workers. Therefore, it is useful to consider the key areas of focus of the recent NDIS National Workforce Plan 2021-2025:
- Improve community understanding of the benefits of working in the care and support sector and strengthen entry pathways for suitable workers to enter the sector
- Train and support the NDIS workforce
- Reduce red tape, facilitate new service models and innovation, and provide more market information about business opportunities in the care and support sector
The Aged Care sector can proactively implement some of the ideas from the NDIS Workforce Plan. In particular, it mentions two main areas for service providers:
- Cultural and service model transformation
- Cultural changes (professionalism, innovation and digital literacy)
- Build an attractive employee value proposition
- Strive for best practice to contribute to a positive overall perception of the sector
- Lead the shift towards values-based hiring practices and leadership
- Workforce Planning and investment in skills development and leadership capability
- Undertake active workforce planning
- Invest in training and support resources for workers
- Identify career pathways and develop mechanisms to recognise outstanding achievements
- Enhance leadership capabilities of Board, senior management and supervisory levels
Importantly, the development of career pathways is mentioned as a shared responsibility between the Government, peak bodies and providers. This begs the question: what does a career in Aged Care look like? Share your thoughts here, results will be presented in our next e-Bulletin.
3. Workforce Planning: where do I start?
The Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council has developed several checklists, fact sheets and customisable templates to use in conjunction with this 5 step plan:
- Getting Started: understanding your needs, decide who is responsible for workforce planning, engage stakeholders and develop a strategic analysis.
- Review Current Workforce: gathering data about why people stay and leave your organisation, review your human resource management systems.
- Identify Future Workforce: what is the supply and demand forecast in the sector? What are the gaps and risks? Think about new skillsets that you will need in the new integrated aged care system, e.g., clinical skills.
- Develop and Implement the Workforce Plan: establish your priorities, use training packages to address your workforce needs. Keep in mind that this is not exclusively limited to qualifications and trainings relevant to health and community services, as there are competencies from other areas that could be related to the job role you require, e.g., hospitality, cleaning, mentoring, workplace training. This is particularly relevant as many workers from other sectors have been laid-off due to the pandemic.
- Evaluate and Revise the Plan: how will you keep track of your achievements over time. Are you seeing any changes in the profile of your workforce (gender, skillsets, spoken languages, digital literacy, etc.)? After that, it will be time to analyse the overall impacts of the plan and develop the next workforce plan.
Additional resources (fact sheets) to guide you through this process are available in this Strategic health workforce planning framework by the Queensland Department of Health. Importantly, you will also have to assess whether you have reliable, up to date and secure IT systems to successfully document this workforce planning exercise.
In the next issues of your E-bulletin, we will dive deeper into these aged care workforce considerations, including how to build an employee value proposition, recruitment, supervision strategies, and attraction of new workers.
Commonwealth of Australia. (2021). NDIS National Workforce Plan: 2021-2025. Retrieved from https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/06_2021/ndis-national-workforce-plan-2021-2025.pdf.
Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council. (2015). Workforce Planning Toolkit. Retrieved from https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/19030ca8-6ea6-421d-8633-3393deb14ffb/downloads/Workforce_Planning_Toolkit.pdf.
Queensland Department of Health. (2020). Strategic health workforce planning framework – Toolkit. Retrieved from https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0036/986616/shwpf-toolkit-20200623.pdf.
Australian Government. (2018). A Matter of Care Australia’s Aged Care Workforce Strategy, Aged Care Workforce Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/a-matter-of-care-australia-s-aged-care-workforce-strategy.pdf.