Why care about the millennials?

Jacinta Sutcliffe

Jacinta Sutcliffe

Jacinta Sutcliffe reached out to me to share her Honours Dissertation on a subject close to my heart - looking at the “Attraction and Retention of Millennial Aged Care Workers in Western Australia”. So naturally, you’re going to love it.

Youth unemployment amidst aged care workers shortages in Australia

You know it. I know it. The media knows it.

Australia’s population is ageing, bringing with it extended life, changing preferences on what it means to care, and more people needing ageing services. This means a lot of change, a need for more innovation, and for us all to challenge the current paradigm of our workplaces.

On top of this - the way we recruit on-the-ground care staff (or personal care workers - PCWs) is changing. Our current PCWs are mature in age and/or from overseas but as the need for more workers increases, we must look to Millennials/Generation Y (those between 18-38) and Generation Zs (those under 18) to enter into our workplaces.

Jacinta Sutcliffe recently finished her research dissertation on this looking at youth unemployment,  and the aged care industry’s ability to successfully respond to imminent workforce shortages and demand for aged care services, which is partially dependent on retaining Millennials. Using an exploratory research approach which involved three aged care facilities in WA. The results revealed that millennials prefer positive working relationships with managers, co-workers and residents, flexible work schedules and value the altruistic nature of the profession.

In addition, unsupportive work environments and workplace pressure to satisfy the needs of elderly residents reduced millennials’ desire to remain in the industry. These findings have the potential to inform human resources managers, aged care service providers and policymakers to formulate strategies to retain the millennials, especially the unemployed, considered vital to the vitality of the Australian aged care industry.

When we see Four Corners and ongoing reports the pressure we put on our PCWs (and nurses) to be task-focused and not have the time to invest in social relationships with those they care for, it’s definitely something a lot of aged care providers must find solutions for.

An ageing population, extended life expectancies changing social preferences towards caring for the elderly (and more) are going to be highlighted over the next 18 months as the Royal Commission begins.

Maybe it’s time we all looked at how we support each other and engage our younger workers to be involved in a respectful discussion about the future of aged care. While this paper identifies the need to simultaneously address youth unemployment and the aged care industry’s ability to successfully respond to imminent workforce shortages - it’s vital we all look at this and engage in initiatives that support our current and future workers in new and innovative ways.

Joining a Mentoring Program, reaching out to a young leader in your network for coffee, or commenting here on LinkedIn are just a few ways you can get involved. Now is the time to raise our voices, especially when young leaders (like me) are looking to you (the leaders that surround us) to inspire, engage, and create the ageing workplaces we all want to be part of.

You can connect with Jacinta via LinkedIn and her research can be found here