Workforce Development Tips from LHC Group, BrightStar, Great Lakes Caring

Many leaders across the home health care industry agree that staffing is among the greatest challenges they’ll face over the next decade.

To attract and retain top talent and help surmount a growing workforce shortage, some large home health and home care companies are “testing the heart” of applicants, drawing inspiration from a well-known e-commerce brand, and harnessing the power of data.

Leaders from BrightStar Care, LHC Group (Nasdaq: LHCG) and Great Lakes Caring shared their insights during a Sept. 14 panel discussion at the Home Health Care News Summit in Chicago.

Keith Myers, CEO and Chairman of LHC Group

To ensure they’re hiring passionate, empathetic employees, Lafayette, Louisiana-based LHC Group screens all of its applicants through a test called the Hartman Value Profile. The test, which LHC adopted about eight years ago, consists of a series of questions based off of the provider’s core values.

“What we’re trying to do is test their heart and see if they’re compassionate or caring,” Myers said during the panel. ”It’s a pass or fail.”

Another piece of advice Myers had for the audience centered on being fully transparent—something he learned from an old mentor.

“He got up every morning and would send an email out to all of his employees to tell them what he was doing,” Myers said. “I still do that. It’s a big deal.”

All that work pays off: LHC is currently experiencing its lowest-ever vacancy and turnover rate, he said.

“The one thing that we need as we grow is more people,” he added. “You sure don’t want to lose the good ones you already have.”

Thom Gilday, President and COO of BrightStar Care

Gurnee, Illinois-based BrightStar Care, one of the nation’s largest home care franchisors, checks up on its agencies and caregivers.

“We’re big believers in data,” Gilday said. “We collect data from franchisees on a daily basis. We can see what agencies have high and low turnover rates.”

BrightStar studies what its top-performing franchisees are doing and shares some of their best practices throughout the company. The franchisor also offers lasting training and mentorship programs to support caregivers on an ongoing basis.

Another big part of keeping employees happy involves getting their feedback, which is why BrightStar sends out an engagement study to 400 of its caregivers through Home Care Pulse every month. Those employees report back to management what they like—or don’t like—about their jobs.

“It’s not about compensation, it’s about feeling a part of the team,” Gilday said.

Adam Nielsen, CEO of Great Lakes Caring

Jackson, Michigan-based Great Lakes Caring, which has over 2,600 employees and serves clients in nine states, invests in ways to bring up future leaders from within.

“We really have to spend some time investing ourselves in creating those managers, not just good clinicians,” Nielsen said. “They can take great care of patients, but if they can’t take care of their fellow employees, the next thing you know, you have people falling apart.”

For Nielsen, who took the reins as CEO of Great Lakes Caring in April, the path to excellence lies in shoes—or rather, the example set by online shoe retailer Zappos.

Specifically, Nielsen takes inspiration from “Delivering Happiness,” a book written by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

“I deliver that book to my customer service team,” Nielsen says. “It’s a book about delivering happiness, no matter what you’re serving.”

The idea is to instill a sense that employees should assist their “customers”—internal or external—and turn any situation, good or bad, into a happy one.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re department-talking-to-department, it creates a sense of camaraderie that I think…should exist within a company if we’re really going to do a solid job.”

Written by Tim Regan