Attracting a younger generation of staff with new-age mediums

Last updated on 4 April 2024

Rebecca Pacey, People Leader at Infinite Aged Care. [Source: Supplied]

As our health and aged care sectors look at how to entice the next generation into these industries, one provider is tackling recruitment and retention a little differently with promising results. 

The average age of a human services worker is getting younger, the use of social media is rising and innovative strategies are replacing traditional learning methods, so how do we connect with these younger workers?

Queensland-based People Leader at Infinite Aged Care, Rebecca Pacey, is pioneering the HR space in aged care, teaming up with marketing colleague Sarah Luckhardt and fellow People & Culture professional Georgia Harvey to produce the Honey, We Grew The Team podcast  – a resource current and future care workers and managers can utilise to learn more about the job. 

Acknowledging the need for more education among a cohort that is incredibly time-poor, the podcast platform offers “micro-training” in a more digestible, conversational and accessible form. 

“We saw we needed to work on ‘micro-training’ and ‘micro-credentialing’, even at a leadership level, and we had to work out what we could do in 15–20 minutes that someone could listen to anywhere – in the car, for example,” Ms Pacey told hello leaders

“Younger managers, particularly these days, need to connect via different means. Traditional learning and practices don’t really happen anymore and employees need to be able to access information online when they want, in their own time and that might be 9am for you, but 3am for me.” 

Ms Pacey is also actively exploring the role popular social media platforms can play in education and how “gamifying” employee feedback strategies can add fun back into these often serious roles while also harvesting the right information you need to address employee needs and improve your policies. 

Tradition versus innovation

Across the sector, there are perceptions and assumptions that managers automatically have leadership capabilities but without upskilling opportunities and training, that isn’t always the case. Similarly, the HR department isn’t always a group employees feel they can approach, even for those at a senior level.

The Honey, We Grew The Team podcast has helped fill those gaps, particularly among younger busier workers who have been able to connect with the platform.

“Some of our younger members have also said they now have the confidence to know and understand that it’s okay to make mistakes. None of us are perfect and it’s about encouraging everyone to communicate better and grow their skills,” Ms Pacey said. 

“With traditional training, we put people in a room with a series of PowerPoints. Do they get the outcome from that and are able to apply it? I don’t know the impacts the podcast will have on the outcome perspective, but if someone can take one thing away from what they’ve heard and relate it to something memorable, they’re perhaps more likely to apply it, in the moment, on the job.”

It is important organisations provide all platforms to engage staff and attempt to reach them at the level they’re at, not where you think they should be. 

Honey, We Grew the Team focuses on people and culture, learning and development, leadership and so much more. [Source: Supplied]

The role of TikTok

The Infinite Aged Care HR team has begun utilising TikTok for engagement and connectivity with the younger generation.

While still in its infancy, Ms Pacey wants to further investigate the role platforms like TikTok can play as an easy-access employee training and engagement tool. 

While it is hard to stay on top of fast-paced trends, the organisation had a video go ‘viral’ earlier this year, garnering 400,000 – 500,000 views. This was aided by workers who are ‘influencers’ posting on the platform and encouraging views. 

“What we’ve found is we have some employees who are influencers and post all the time,” Ms Pacey explained.

“They give such a fabulous representation of the fun that exists in aged care so we like to try and drive that as well in terms of changing the perspective of the industry and using TikTok as a platform to try and recruit people into the sector.” 

Incentivising employee engagement surveys

Many providers struggle to get staff to participate in engagement or satisfaction surveys – either because they are too busy, they fear reparation or don’t feel like their feedback will change anything at their workplace. 

After what Ms Pacey described as a “pretty dismal” employee engagement survey during 2022, Infinite Aged Care moved away from a generic survey platform and engaged CarePage’s third-party employee experience platform Happy Life Index which ensures confidentiality and anonymity. 

Ms Pacey stressed the importance of HR departments having a strong communication and action plan to show employees that their feedback does not fall into a void with nothing being done about it. 

Infinite Aged Care ran a six-week internal marketing campaign called ‘You Said, We Did’ in the leadup to this year’s survey to show staff what had been done with the results of 2022’s survey. As part of the campaign, they told employees the survey was coming up again, the purpose of the survey and why it was important to hear their thoughts and insights.  

“COVID changed the concept of connectivity and seeing a person for who they are a lot. I think some aged care organisations are still struggling with that,” Ms Pacey explained. 

“We focus so much on the residents but you must match it with the attention to staff.”  

Through their campaign, the HR team engaged management through ‘gamifying’ the strategy by offering prizes to different sites to reward staff. These rewards revolved mainly around improving staff rooms – one winning site used prize money to get an ice machine to keep drinks cool and another site used their winnings to put towards a massage chair for staff to utilise on break.

“Now, even operationally, we’re using gamification campaigns to incentivise teams with different focuses every month,” said Ms Pacey.

“This month, we’re asking, ‘Who has the best room display to show for tours’ and everyone has to up their game to place on the scoreboard. We’ve found our teams love that as it puts the fun back into their jobs.”

Outside of these campaigns, Infinite Aged Care runs key quarterly events that build connectivity with residents and staff and specific fun activity days for staff who participate in the engagement survey. 

Ms Pacey said as an outcome of these initiatives, “We have our next 24-month strategy ready to go around our people engagement and workforce plan at a national level. Now, we’ve combined the outcomes of the engagement with site-specific strategies.”

The organisation also saw an increase in engagement, with 72% of the business responding to the survey. 

“There’s never one single thing that changes engagement and outcomes,” said Ms Pacey.

“We need to ask ‘Where are we at?’ and ‘How do we connect with them?’”

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Rebecca Pacey
employee relationships
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Honey We Grew the Team