Aims: To identify the reasons why workers decide to enter, stay or leave the aged care workforce; and the factors influencing them to transition between community and residential sectors in Australia. Background: Factors affecting the recruitment and retention of suitable care workers in aged care are complex and influenced by personal, institutional and societal factors. Methods: A qualitative description study design. Results: In total, 32 staff participated in the study. Five main themes were identified: entering aged care with a passion for the job; entering aged care as it is the only employment option; factors attracting care workers to stay in aged care; factors influencing care workers to leave the job; and preferring to work in residential aged care rather than community aged care. Conclusion: Issues relating to the attraction and retention of aged care workers are influenced by personal, institutional and societal factors. Critical shortages in the aged care workforce make the industry more susceptible to crises such as COVID-19 outbreaks. Implication for nursing practice: Aged care organizations need to create a positive psychosocial work environment for staff to improve the attraction and retention of skilled care workers. They also need to develop staff recruitment guidelines to ensure care workers with the appropriate skills and training and a passion for working with older adults are selected. Staff development programmes need to focus on learning activities that enable staff to build peers support in the work environment. Implications for health policy: There is a need to mandate curriculum to enable nursing students to receive more gerontological education and exposure to aged care throughout their education. Aged care quality standards need to mandate transition support for new graduate nurses.