Love them or hate them, millennials are the new workforce. And in an industry desperate for more workers to fill a caregiver shortage, home health care companies should be embracing ways to recruit and retain members of this generation — those born between around 1980 and 2000.
One major home health care player, Encompass Home Health and Hospice, which will become known as Encompass Health Corporation, is doing just that, and making gains in the market as it positions itself as a top workplace for millennials.
Millennials at the company, which is based in Dallas and has 230 locations across 25 states, currently make up 27% of its overall workforce — the second-largest generation group at Encompass, according to Kellie Spencer, Encompass’ director of recruiting. And they are quickly overtaking other generations as the largest workforce group, she told Home Health Care News.
With a significant need for more health care staff, Encompass is pulling out all stops to recruit and retain this generation of workers.
A Growing Need
Part of the shortage of workers across the home health care sector has to do with the skills required. Most employers cite a lack of “qualified” workers for open positions.
When it comes to the millennial class of kids, the best employees are oftentimes those who have a personal experience with home health care, Spencer said. When it comes to choosing a career, millennials likely remember the impact that quality nursing services in the home had on a loved one.
“It’s a given fact there are shortages all over the country and world [for nurses],” Spencer said. “The highest quality employee we have has discovered that they do this type of work because they love it, they feel compelled and feel called to do nursing. I’m confident that there will be more young people across the country who are reaching their formative years and think about this as their professional future.”
To make this connection to the industry, home health care companies need to attract millennials where they spend a lot of time.
“We have done an extensive re-intermarrying of our recruiting process to not just make it attractive to all clinicians, but particularly millennials — from social media to making sure our processes are more optimized for mobile,” Spencer told HHCN.
Part of that revamp includes engaging with millennials where they always are: on smartphones, Spencer said. Encompass is looking at developing a new platform through an organization call Avature, as well as engaging with millennials through well-known social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Snapchat.
“We have to go where our audience is [to find] the type of talent we want to attract in any generation, but particularly the up-and-coming generations,” Spencer said. “We have to cast a wider net to outreach to them.”
Beyond the Job
When it comes to attracting millennials, Encompass keeps in mind that this generation holds a strong interest in having an impact with their work — and in how a company develops and treats its employees.
For six in 10 millennials surveyed in a study by Deloitte, having a sense of purpose was part of the reason they chose to work at a company.
“I think millennials, not exclusively, have a desire to feel like their contributions to a company are far-reaching and have impact beyond what the business is doing,” Mike Verner, vice president of human resources at Encompass, said.
Encompass’ mission might play into this millennial desire.
“Our mission extends beyond what we do in the branch and beyond the home,” Spencer said. “It’s about what we do globally, not what we do regionally.”
As part of its extension of the business, Encompass offers employees the opportunity to participate in its foundation, Encompass Cares, which provides three main functions as a nonprofit entity.
The organization allows employees and affiliates of the company to apply for and participate in grant-funded missions to serve others in need around the globe. For example, employees can be part of a service trip that helps builds homes or offers medical services in other countries, as Verner recently did. As part of his trip, Verner performed service work in Honduras.
The foundation also works in partnership with local charities in the communities where Encompass operates. Its third component is offering emergency relief funding to its own employees in times of need. For instance, if an employee’s home burns down or is damaged in a natural disaster, they may apply for emergency funding.
All these efforts of Encompass Cares are funded by employee contributions, which are not mandatory, but qualify employees to be eligible for emergency funding should they need it.
“It keeps the focus of all our employees that we are there to take care of our patients, but also take care of our employees,” Verner said.
For millennials, the foundation may hit both their desire to feel like their company is invested in them and to make an impact elsewhere. In 2016, 161 branch locations took part in community assistance programs with local groups.
“When the recruiting team talks about engaging potential talent, we share what Encompass Cares is,” Spencer said. “Delivering that message to millennials, which is quickly becoming the largest segment of our workforce — it resonates with them.”
Written by Amy Baxter