How to appeal to Gen Z healthcare professionals

Healthcare staffing in Ontario can be a challenge. Stress, poor working conditions, overwork and burnout have led to healthcare professionals leaving the industry in record numbers.

Also – like many baby boomer heavy industries – nurses are also retiring younger than previous generations, and they’re doing so en masse. According to the Longwoods Review, Registered Nurses (RNs) now retire at an average age of 56. That’s nearly a decade earlier than workers in other sectors, and it’s even more significant when you know that the average age of a nurse in Ontario is 43.

Ontario’s supply of RNs is falling fast. Across Canada, there are about 830 per 100,000 citizens, but in Ontario, there are just 668 per 100,000, as noted by the Ontario Nurses’ Association. The numbers paint a clear picture: we’re in a nursing shortage crisis, and that’s especially concerning for long-term care (LTC) home operators.

There’s a glimmer of hope though because younger people are looking for meaningful work – but to recruit them, you need to understand them. Gen Z (born between the late 90s and early 2000s) and Millennials (born between ‘81-’96) have work and career-related expectations that revolve around technology, flexibility, control and making a positive impact.

To pass the nursing torch, LTC home operators must make themselves appealing to younger healthcare professionals. Thankfully, there are ways LTC homes and the industry as a whole can adapt, and we’ll go through them one-by-one in this guide.


Healthcare hasn’t adopted technology as quickly as other industries. It might seem unbelievable in this day and age, but pen and paper are still typical when it comes to scheduling shifts at LTC homes.

There isn’t a single point of blame for this, but LTC operators should recognize that to attract the next generation of healthcare professionals, they need to make the most of technology.

Millennials and Gen Z healthcare professionals use technology in their lives in an organic way: ordering food, interacting with friends and family, traveling. They don’t see tech as scary or difficult to use. Quite the opposite, actually. Millennials and Gen Z use tech to make their lives simpler and work smarter. As such, they’ll expect to use tech in your facility.

In 2019, a study by the Workforce Institute found that 26% of Gen Z’s saw poor workplace technology as a major performance drawback, while 33% of Gen Z’s expected their employers to provide modern workplace tech.

The same research found that 21% of Gen Z high school and college graduates wouldn’t put up with outdated workplace technology. Finally, 36% of temp staff who responded to the survey valued modern workplace technology.

In a nutshell, younger people don’t want to adapt to a ‘pen and paper’ or ‘offline’ place of work, so if your processes are non-digital, they’ll see your LTC home as challenging and less attractive. It could actually turn them off working at your facility altogether.

Modern solutions like Florence have digitized the staffing experience, so it’s less hassle for everyone. Thanks to an easy-to-use online platform, you can digitize processes that have been largely manual to date — like calling staff one by one to fill last minute empty shifts. There are plenty of other useful features, too, including the ability to broadcast shifts to your employees in under 30 seconds in accordance with Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) requirements, along with an audit trail and easy-to-access online customer support. You can use Florence to keep digital records of when staff are notified of shifts, which staff have picked up extra shifts, and tracking of annual training, so managing your workforce becomes a lot easier.

Meanwhile, healthcare professionals benefit from a more flexible and guilt-free way to browse and accept extra shifts, improving their engagement and satisfaction, and ultimately retention. According to Benefits Canada, 80% of Millennials and Gen Z workers say that they want a workplace culture that prioritizes mental health and wellbeing. How you engage staff around their schedules and requests to work extra shifts has an impact on their anxiety and stress.

So, by choosing to embrace technology, you can not only retain the next generation of healthcare professionals, but also streamline paperwork and processes. You can be more efficient, capture data you couldn’t get hold of easily before, and save money by engaging your existing staff better too.

In short, your facility could run better once you implement a simple tech-based solution like Florence.

Flexibility and control

Gen Z healthcare professionals value the ability to control when and where they work. They value choice and flexibility.

In the previously mentioned Workforce Institute study, 35% of Gen Z’s said they’d never tolerate being forced to work at inconvenient times, while a further 34% said they wanted full control over vacation days. A third of respondents wanted a say in their work schedules. More than half of Gen Z’s surveyed wanted control over their own schedules, while 33% said they felt motivated by the prospect of flexible work.

This means that you can anticipate a number of Gen Z healthcare professionals increasingly looking for more flexibility in how they work. Being able to tap into this flexible capacity should be a key part of your staffing strategy for the future. Traditionally, many healthcare facilities turn to staffing agencies when they’re short-staffed, and pay significant premiums. Agencies charge 2-3x your full-time nursing rate because it’s challenging for them to recruit and retain staff long-term.

Today, there are other more sustainable options available for temporary staffing. Using a staffing marketplace like Florence can connect you with healthcare professionals looking for extra shifts. You post open shifts at your own rates, and healthcare professionals can browse and book shifts that work for their schedules and lives. While Gen Z and millennials are a large part of the demographic looking to pick up flexible shifts in this way, this new way of working appeals to many generations of healthcare professionals who simply want more control.

With Florence, healthcare professionals get to choose where and when they work – which creates a more sustainable and long-term temp staffing network available to you, while cutting out the agency premiums you’re used to with temp staff. The best part — if you find a Florence healthcare professional who you enjoy working with, you can “favourite” them and send shifts to them first. You can also hire them as a permanent member of your team if there’s a fit. At Florence, we don’t see that as a loss; instead, we see it as a win for your residents who are getting a better quality of care, as well as the healthcare professional who has found a meaningful workplace culture they want to be a part of.

Making an impact

Millennials and Gen Z don’t just want to work: they want their jobs to make a positive impact on society, not just on the workplace itself, as stated in the Harvard Business Review. LTC homes are wonderful places to work if you’re drawn to help others – so from that perspective, you’re ahead.

Healthcare professionals at LTC homes keep residents safe and give them dignified, high-quality care every day. Residents’ loved ones also benefit from this because they can rest easy knowing their family members are being treated with empathy and respect.

There are few industries left where staff work directly with people, face to face. Younger healthcare professionals who live technology-rich lives find working in-person in a hands-on environment with older adults rewarding and therapeutic. You can make the most of their desire to help people and make an impact every day.

Here at Florence, we believe it’s vital to make long-term care roles attractive to the next generation of healthcare professionals. With that in mind, we can work with you to help create lasting, positive improvements in the way you handle staffing.

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