Recruitment and retention of home health and home care employees is cited by employers among the most difficult operational challenges in providing care today.
Yet some companies—small and large—are having success in recruiting and retaining based on some creative approaches to culture-building, employee perks and by understanding that retaining existing employees is more than half the battle.
Ensure a right fit upfront
The home care industry often sees applicants from other industries such as hospitals or other acute care settings. Yet, to be considered for an in-home care job, some providers require employees to have a first experience in home care.
“People may say they only want candidates with home health experience,” Brecken Anderson, operations support director for LHC Group (Nasdaq: LHCG), said during a panel discussion at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) annual conference. “But how many people didn’t have that experience when they started?”
By broaching the setting up front, employers can help rule out a poor fit before getting further along in the hiring process, or worse, before making a hire and spending time and money on onboarding a new employee.
Providers can do this by:
– Providing a video that shows the home care setting to prospective employees. This video can even be included on the company’s website where job-seekers can learn more about the position.
– Conducting a ride-along as part of the interview. With the proper documentation and state health requirements, some companies include a “ride-along” with a current home health care employee so the applicant knows what to expect in the care setting at home. This can lead to fewer surprises for a brand new home health worker.
“This has kept some people from coming back,” Anderson said. “But it kept the company from wasting time and money.”
Gain existing staff buy-in
Among some of the best practices of operators who are hiring new home health care staff, companies are conducting panel interviews so all team members can meet applications up front and can weigh in early in the hiring process. This practice also places some emphasis on the ability of the employer to “sell” the job to the prospective employee in a competitive hiring environment.
“We are having to ‘sell’ ourselves, like in speed dating,” Ashley Briones, HR business partner for Brooks Rehabilitation, explained during the panel at the NAHC conference in Long Beach, California. “What are you trying to sell your candidates?”
Preventing a hire can save as much as months’ worth of salary, or an estimated $37,000 to $58,000 per nurse, according to the University of New Mexico.
“Getting the buy-in from the audience who are going to train them [has been effective],” Anderson said. “Putting that investment in the candidate at first has been huge.”
Track and respond to feedback
With the rise of online job searching, companies are well served to be aware of feedback from existing—and former—employees. One place many workers are providing their input is Glassdoor.com.
“Who goes to Glassdoor to talk about your organization? It’s the people who no longer work for you,” Anderson said. “As far as your brand, Glassdoor is huge. Encourage current employees to get on that.”
Existing employees can also be a key to retention through stay interviews, which have become a rising trend among human resources departments across many industries.
Conducted once or twice per year among existing staff, stay interviews typically include about five questions and provide an opportunity for feedback. They can be a resource to help identify problems in real time before they lead to turnover.
“This is not done during the annual review,” Briones said. “Listen to the employee and what’s making them work for you. Have you thought about leaving in the last 6 months? What makes you happy to come to work today?”
But, she says, stay interviews require timely response.
“Worse than not doing one, is getting suggestions and not making changes,” she said.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker