The impact of NDIS worker shortages and what to do about it

Business Insights

The disability sector is experiencing serious worker shortages, which can lead to delays in care and gaps in services.

It can also put your NDIS enterprise in a vulnerable business position - without suitable workers you can’t grow and thrive.

To maintain quality care for participants and business sustainability, it’s crucial to be able to attract and retain employees.It’s been harder for NDIS businesses to recruit and retain staff.

Here are some of the issues NDIS businesses face, and some strategies for staff recruitment and retention. 


The scope of the problem

Since COVID-19, it’s been harder for NDIS businesses to recruit and retain staff. This comes on top of longer-term worker shortages. According to a report by parliament’s joint standing committee on the NDIS, around 83,000 extra workers are needed in the sector by 2024.

In order to recruit suitable workers, you may need to pay higher wages – which of course can put financial pressure on the business. It can be especially problematic if you are simultaneously unable to get those workers into providing higher fee services.

The average pay for NDIS employees is Level 2-3. If you are paying workers at higher levels than this, it’s important to graduate them into supervisory roles or higher-level services – such as complex support coordination. This can in turn improve your funding situation.

In addition, inadequate staffing levels will put the brakes on business growth, while using underqualified workers can increase your business’s level of risk.


Attracting and retaining suitable workers

So how can NDIS providers overcome these challenges?

Offering good pay and conditions helps attract the cream of the crop to your business. Looking after your workers and delivering on your promises will make them more likely to stick around.

Here are a few strategies to consider.

1. Enable your employees to build rewarding careersNDIS managers should understand the stresses that their workers can face.

This includes:

  • Opportunities for training in areas that interest them.
  • Professional development and career advancement opportunities.
  • A flexible workplace that enables greater autonomy and work/life balance.
  • Matching people to clients - pairing carers and clients who are compatible helps build trust and positive relationships, which in turn can lead to greater job satisfaction.
  • Creating a positive workplace culture – one that is kind, caring, and even a bit fun!

2. Provide social and emotional support 

NDIS managers should understand the stresses that their workers can face. High stress can lead to employees choosing not to take on new clients. The pandemic has exacerbated this issue, as it has led to disability work becoming more complex than before. This situation makes it crucial to offer employee assistance programs, mental health support, and opportunities for staff to debrief.

It may also be important to manage and monitor/enforce leave – employees tend to not take the leave they are entitled to if there is no one to cover their job.

3. Respect and empower your workers

While it’s crucial to focus on service quality, recognise that your employees work closely with participants in their homes and build strong personal relationships with them. It’s important to value the input and respect the autonomy of your workers.


In summary – be kind!

Staff retention is especially crucial in the disability sector where participants can suffer distress with constant changing of care workers.

Caring for your workers empowers them to offer the best care for participants. If you don’t care for your workers and they end up leaving, you are not going to have your business for very long!


For further information

To speak with an RSM advisor regarding your agreements, please contact your local RSM office.