Sustainable employability of long-term care staff in self-managing teams: A qualitative study

Ceciel H. Heijkants*, Astrid De Wind, Madelon L.M. Van Hooff, Sabine A.E. Geurts, Cécile R.L. Boot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim: To discover what long-term care (LTC) staff working in self-managing teams consider necessary to remain sustainably employable. Design: Qualitative study with semi-structured interviews. Methods: In 2020, semi-structured interviews were conducted one-on-one with 25 LTC workers from a medium-large Dutch organization providing long-term care. All interviews were audio-recorded, anonymously transcribed verbatim and analysed with thematic content analysis in the software program Atlas.ti. Results: LTC workers indicated a need for autonomy. They wanted their control and involvement in decisions to be strengthened. Furthermore, LTC workers indicated a need for relatedness, by experiencing support, a feeling of togetherness and more time to have attention for the residents. Lastly, LTC workers expressed a need for (assistance in) further developing their competence. Conclusion: In order to remain willing and able to work, LTC workers in self-managing teams want their needs for autonomy, relatedness and competence to be addressed. Working conditions are important to these LTC workers' sustainable employability since they can hinder or promote the satisfaction of their needs. Implications: It is important that management in LTC is aware of the importance of LTC workers' needs for sustainable employability. We recommend that management critically reflect on and invest in addressing these needs by enhancing indicators and limiting inhibitors of the needs. Impact: A robust LTC workforce is necessary to provide care to the aging population. In the context of the increasing implementation of self-managing teams in LTC organizations, understanding what workers in self-managing teams need in order to remain sustainably employable is crucial. For sustainable employability (i.e. to remain willing and able to work), interviewees indicated a need for autonomy, relatedness, and competence. Nearly all participants stressed the importance of belonging and feeling connected. Working conditions seemed to relate not only directly to the sustainable employability of LTC staff but also indirectly through their lack of contribution to the satisfaction of workers' psychological needs. The outcomes of this study primarily impact workers and management within LTC organizations with self-managing teams. They benefit from recognizing the significance of addressing workers' needs to ensure their essential and sustainable employability in the sector. Reporting Method: The Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research and the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative (COREQ) research were used. Patient or Public Contribution: Two LTC workers provided advice and feedback regarding the materials and set up of the interviews. These two ambassadors additionally helped in reaching our population, by disseminating information about the study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024


  • healthcare professionals
  • long-term care
  • qualitative research
  • self-managing teams
  • sustainable employability


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