Employer of Choice: The Shoreline

Regional Development Australia – Mid North Coast caught up with Owen Lednor, Director of Care, who shared some tips as an employer of choice on the Mid North Coast.

March 2023 – Regional Development Australia – Mid North Coast Feature

Who are you: My name is Owen Lednor, Director of Care at The Shoreline at Coffs Harbour. We currently employ 76 people, with the aim of reaching 140+ over the next few months.  

Describe your core business: The Shoreline offers mixed residential and retirement aged care support. We are a business that works in ageing.

How would you define an excellent employer in your industry? An excellent employer in the aged care industry is able to provide flexibility to staff in terms of types of shifts, hours worked etc. Another important aspect of being an excellent employer is a strong focus on staff wellbeing. We work in a challenging industry, which can at time be emotionally heavy. We need to make sure we focus on the positive aspects of aged care, as well as supporting staff.

In your organisation, what are some of the things you do that make you an employer of choice? We provide staff benefits, many of which the industry wouldn’t have access to, such as cost of living support like discounts at local shops, as well as encouraging the team to use the services we provide such as gyms and pool facilities.  

  Why is it important to The Shoreline that you are an excellent employer?

Being a good employer is important to us because we are working with elderly people, who are a vulnerable group of people. It is essential that not only that the right staff are selected, but those right staff are supported. We are giving a better service and safer environment when we have happy and well cared for staff.  

What have you personally learned along your journey to becoming an employer of choice? I could write a whole book on this! I’ve learned that it is important to be available to the team, with a focus on listening and not reacting. It’s also essential to be aware of future trends and start to prepare for that now, which requires a significant mindset shift in the management team. Employees see you are thinking about them not just now, but in 5 years time, and that makes people feel safe and cared about.

Lastly, as managers, it’s so easy to get caught up in making sure everyone else is ok, that sometimes we can forget ourselves. As always, self care is really important: where and how am I resting and recharging? Managers have a responsibility to model good self care, as it flows to the rest of the organisation.

What is your advice to organisations in the aged care industry that want to improve as an employer? The key is know your product, know what you’re delivering, be passionate about what you’re doing. Be upfront about what you’re really good at and passionate about. You will attract the right people who are attracted to those similar values and ethos and the ones who aren’t will slip away. Don’t be afraid to talk about your purpose, be transparent.

Do you employ young people (under 25)? Do you consider you do that effectively? Why/Why not? Yes, we do. We find we need a slightly different approach to recruitment that’s a bit more flexible and modern. We also provide people with a clear upfront plan for supporting them – we let them know this is how we’ll build on your existing skills and help you develop new ones, as well as capitalising on the social assets they bring to the environment.

A key piece of advice, probably for people under 35, is to accept that you will see them move on to other positions. Never think that the training effort has been wasted – your organisation has helped them become a better member of the workforce – and you can’t get a better advertisement for your business than a happy employee who talks about what a great place to work your organisation is.    

What key trends do you see impacting your business in the next 5-10 years? 

  • Lack of affordable and available housing for staff is a key concern and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.  
  • How do you provide flexible work hours while also meeting business goals? A younger workforce demands flexibility, and one of our key challenges is to provide what they need while also providing good care for our residents. 
  • Management roles will be harder to fill: again, younger people are less likely to want to compromise their work life balance even with the greater pay levels offered. In addition, aged care management roles are becoming increasingly high pressure, with high levels of accountability and  industry compliance necessary.  Lots of skilled managers are burning out. Some possible solutions are to focus on building and supporting the management team, as well as provide different models of what management roles could look like over the next 30 years. Ideas include job-sharing and switching roles between offsite and onsite managers, which may assist in sharing risk and accountability. 
  • Lack of skilled workforce availability – organisations need to be investing in their future workforce or they won’t have a one in 5 years time. Tools include traineeships, overseas solutions, and a focus on younger workforce.