By Stephen Tweed
What are you seeing with turnover of your caregivers and field staff? Have you seen an up-trend in people quitting to take other jobs?
According to the U S Department of Labor, American workers are on the move again, switching jobs in greater numbers in a trend that heralds faster economic growth and a more dynamic labor market. In September, nearly 2.8 million Americans quit jobs, the most since April 2008, though still below pre-recession highs.
The pickup in quitters is becoming contagious. As workers see longtime colleagues depart, they’re testing the waters themselves. Some of them also will leave, creating more openings to be filled. We have seen this in the past in the home care industry. When one experienced and respected caregiver leaves, others will follow, often going to the same company.
As companies lose more workers, they’re starting to increase pay to keep staffers and attract prospects. Annual raises for private-sector workers who held the same job averaged 4.5% in the third quarter compared with 3.5% in the year-earlier period, according to ADP. Job switchers notched even bigger raises of 5.6%. Obviously this doesn’t work in home care. We don’t have the luxury of raising pay rates as turnover increases.
However, one trend we are just beginning to see is home care companies raising their prices to account for the increased costs coming from The Affordable Care Act, and the Overtime Exemption rule change. If you are thinking about raising rates, the first quarter of 2015 will be the time to do it.
What does this mean for the home care industry?
In 2015, the biggest barrier to growing your home care business will be your ability to find and keep the staff you need to meet the growing needs of your clients and patients. This will be true whether your core business in home health, hospice, or private duty home care. In November, I was speaking an leading some panel discussion at the Home Care Association of America annual leadership conference in Kansas City. The conversation was all about recruiting and retention.
In November, we kicked off our Private Pay in Home Health Mastermind Group in New York City. The companies who joined that group were all talking about the challenges of finding enough people to meet their growth curve.
There is no doubt that if you are planning to grow your business this year, you will need to focus more on recruiting, selecting, and retaining caregivers.
Deja Vu All Over Again.
The situation going into 2015 reminds us clearly of the situation going into 2006. You will recall that the economy was going strong, and the home care business was exploding with new growth. The biggest challenge companies were facing was finding enough caregivers; RNs, LPNs, PCAs. At Leading Home Care we work hard to stay ahead of the trends in the industry and we saw this as a major issue. we conducted our first Private Duty Caregiver Recruiting Survey. We had over 500 companies participate, and we learned a lot about what was working and what was not working in caregiver recruiting.
More importantly, we also learned how important selection is to the process. If you do not have an effective selection process, you will hire anyone who comes across OK in an interview. When the job market gets tight, and companies are desperate for caregivers, they will hire anybody. That was the case then. Home Health Agencies were hiring nurses that five years ago would have never gotten an interview. Private Duty companies were sending anyone who could tie their shoe laces.
To address this issue, we explored the process of employee selection, and studied the use of online assessments. We had used online assessments with executives and middle managers for years. I sent on one of our team member out to search the psychological testing industry to find a tool that we could use to select form liner workers – personal caregivers, nurses, LPNs, and office staff – and that would be affordable to use for font line caregivers earning $10 per hour. We found a terrific tool, and worked out a relationship with People Clues to set up Caregiver Quality Assurance.
When the economy tanked in 2008, the shortage of caregivers diminished, and companies were not putting as much emphasis on recruiting and selection. However, the CQA program took off grew steadily for six years. We have had hundreds of companies using this system to help hire the very best caregivers.
What will Your Recruiting and Selection look like in 2015?
Elizabeth and I flew down to Naples, Florida for a couple of days. On the plane, I was reading some articles, and read one a friend suggested by Tony Robbins. He was writing about “Three Decisions that will Change Your Financial Life.” The first one is, “Carefully choose what to focus on.” In the article he says, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” What you focus on and your pattern for doing so shapes your entire life.
This really resonated with me, as I’ve been speaking and writing about focus for 30 years. My first commercially published book was called, “Strategic Focus; A Gameplan for Developing Competitive Advantage.” It is all about finding the one thing that makes you different.
In 2015, the one thing that will make your agency stand out from the crowd will be having enough high quality caregivers to meet the need. Having enough caregivers is all about three things:
- Recruiting high quality applicants
- Selecting only the very best
- Retaining top talent for long periods of time
I’m confident that those companies who choose to focus on finding and keeping top talent in 2015 will win in the marketplace.
Find Out What Works
To help you find out which marketing techniques are most effective in finding high quality candidates, we are again surveying leaders in the home care industry. If you are someone who has had success in hiring high quality caregivers, we would love to hear from you. Please take a minute to complete the 2014 Private Duty Caregiver Recruiting Survey.