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Many Hospitals 'Get' What Older Workers Want

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 7, 2011

Seligman says: "We look at the needs of all of our demographic, especially staff over 50, because we are heading to an organization with an average age in that area, around 47 years old. We want them to believe that if our leaders are attuned to the needs of their staff and support them adequately, the staff, in turn, will be engaged in the mission as we like to see it executed."

Let's concede that the stalled economy has played a role in lower turnover of senior staff at many hospitals. Bluntly stated, many people can no longer afford to retire, or they may be supporting a family member who's lost a job.

But that isn't the only explanation. Seligman and Shelor say hospitals do a better job retaining senior staff because hospitals have been practicing for longer than most other industries. And one of the first things they recognized that seniors want is flexible scheduling. "Healthcare lends itself to flexibility," Shelor says.

"We are open 24/7 and there are many different roles for healthcare workers, nurses in particular. It is not a cookie cutter job."

Shelor says Bon Secours designs career paths for its staff that will allow them to remain working for the health system for their entire career. "When nurses come into our organization, if they come in right out of school, what we tell them is they can have a job with us for life through the many stages of their own lives," she says.

"That would be as a young person, a young mother, a mother of teenagers, as a daughter of aging parents. The needs of workers change in their lifespan, and healthcare is uniquely designed to respond to those needs because of the 24/7 platform and the ability to be flexible."

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