LeadingAge Magazine · September-October 2019 • Volume 09 • Number 05

I subscribe to LeadingAge listservs, covering almost every topic area within our field. They offer a good window into the concerns that our members have—the kinds of things that keep them awake at night and keep them talking to each other during the day.

(Speaking of the listservs, if you’re a participant, keep your eyes open for more details about the Online Member Community that we will soon launch, a new tool that will replace the listservs and make it even easier for you to communicate with your colleagues throughout the membership.)

Gene Mitchell
Gene Mitchell

Anyway … I’ve always been impressed by the tremendous traffic on the Human Resource Directors listserv. Subscribers are constantly raising new issues and rethinking old ones, and always looking for ways to meet their greatest challenge: maintaining a committed staff and keeping a steady supply of new talent coming into the pipeline.

In this issue, themed “A Destination for Talent,” we look at some of the issues our members face around employees: finding talented and committed ones and keeping them; helping them make the most out of technology; maintaining a healthy workplace culture; and giving them supports as needed to help them through difficult personal issues that threaten their work performance.

What we can do in the magazine is give a snapshot of what members are doing and highlight their good ideas. But I should remind you that the real treasure-trove of workforce help is the LeadingAge Center for Workforce Solutions. The inventory of promising practices, fact sheets, policy information, podcasts, and other resources there is constantly growing. And subscribing to the Workforce Matters newsletter is a good way to stay on top of the Center’s latest activities.

At LeadingAge, we’ve always talked about the nonprofit difference: the way our members are driven by mission and a sense of responsibility for improving the lives of the people they serve and employ. Our members like finding potential employees who have the same attitude. In “Recruiting for a Purpose-Driven Workplace,” you’ll see how some are doing that.

College students are anxious to find careers for themselves. Are we doing enough to introduce them to the great opportunities in our field? Some providers are, by bringing them into their communities and immersing them in opportunities. Read “Drawing Students to Our Field With College Partnerships” to learn more.

When planning “Building a Technology-Friendly Staff,” I envisioned a straightforward piece about investing in new technologies and in people—ensuring, through good training and policies, that the employees who work with residents and clients get the most out of that technology. One member, however, raised an additional issue I hadn’t really thought about: the importance of good relationships between the organization’s technology/IT staff and the direct-care workers.

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) have become very common in the 21st century. This is a testament to employers’ recognition that some workers face multiple stressors away from the workplace, stressors that can take a toll on job performance or even make it hard for a worker to keep a job. In “Beyond Pay and Benefits,” the first article in a series, we look at a few ways, in addition to EAPs, that employers can mitigate the job-threatening challenges many employees face.

I think of the next feature, “Employer Resource Networks Offer Valuable Help to Workers,” as a companion to the previous article. Rather than hire third-party EAP firms to assist employees, ERNs represent a collective approach—a pooling of effort between regional employers—to offer similar services. In this article, we interview a representative of ERN USA, an umbrella organization helping new ERNs to develop.

Serving rural populations has always been difficult, and it’s getting harder. Nevertheless, LeadingAge members believe their missions require them to keep working at it. “Reflections on Opening a Rural PACE in Michigan” is a member-written story about a new PACE, its considerable growing pains, and its hope for helping residents who can benefit greatly from the PACE model.

At the LeadingAge Leadership Summit in March of this year, I invited 5 people (representing 4 LeadingAge-member organizations) to talk about middle-market consumers, and what our field ought to be doing for them. I envisioned a group interview, but these members took the ball and ran with it, leading to a great conversation full of innovative ideas. In “Podcast: Housing and Services for the Middle Market” you can hear that dialogue.

Finally, our recurring feature from the People We Serve series includes more interesting stories about big-hearted elders our members serve, and the remarkable employees that do so. Read “Teachers, Woodworkers, and Scholarship Funders: These are the People We Serve.”