Facing a serious labor crunch, home health and other senior care providers are adopting new approaches to recruiting and retaining workers.
Lafayette, Louisiana-based LHC Group (Nasdaq: LHCG), one of the largest home health companies in the nation, is no exception. Changing its scheduling practices and making its training more rigorous are two adjustments that have helped LHC Group reduce turnover.
It’s part of an approach rooted largely in the concept of flexibility, as described in the following contribution to Home Health Care News:
Flexibility is Key to Developing a Stronger Home Health Workforce, by Brecken Anderson, RN, BSN, MSN, regional operations director for the South Coast Division of LHC Group
As a staffing and recruiting specialist for a major home health provider, it’s my job to stay abreast of the latest developments affecting the future workforce. If I had to sum up the most common refrain I’ve heard in recent years, it’s that companies need to get better at creating more flexible working environments.
New employees – especially those from the millennial generation – simply don’t feel that the typical 8:00-4:30 shift works best for them. And why should they? In a world where everything from take-out to TV shows are available on-demand, it was only a matter of time before the desire for flexibility found its way into the workplace. In order to keep attracting top talent, the home health sector must adjust to this new reality.
So how do we keep up? Well, before we can adjust accordingly, we first have to reimagine what the workplace of the future should look like. That was the thinking behind LHC Group’s recent decision to revamp its hiring and recruiting process and expand scheduling flexibility.
Shortly after I became a regional operations director, the company did away with the standard business day shift in favor of tailored work hours in an effort to meet individual needs. Employees are now given the opportunity to start later in the day and work into the evening. Weekend opportunities were also expanded. This helped us attract applicants who had personal, family, or educational obligations that made it harder to be available during typical working hours.
The company also revamped its recruiting process to give prospective employees a more comprehensive view of the positions they were applying for. This included more training on the home healthcare environment as well as new interactive activities. For example, ride-alongs are now part of the interview process. Now, future nurses, therapists, and home health aids get an up-front look at the type of work they will be doing if hired.
Shortly after making these changes, we saw a noticeable improvement in patient engagement and satisfaction scores. People appreciated the newer, later hours and were comforted by the fact that they could receive same-day care even if they were discharged from the hospital that same day.
But crucially, these changes led to major savings for our company. In Mississippi for example, turnover dropped from 15% to 13% in nine months, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in cost savings. Improved turnover meant that we were spending less on staff onboarding and conserving more resources to put towards patient care.
That’s not to say there weren’t challenges along the way. As a company with more than 14,000 employees spread across 27 states and active in a variety of home health, hospice, and community care settings, implementing any kind of large-scale change will come with a few hurdles. Because staffing needs differed dramatically from agency to agency and market to market, it was important to give each branch a healthy measure of flexibility in implementing new policies – especially in rural areas where employees are more slowly embracing the shift towards flexible schedules.
As the home healthcare workforce continues to evolve, the way we recruit, train, and retain staff will become increasingly important. Employee flexibility will become an expectation, not a perk, while patients will increasingly come to rely on services delivered at all times of the day. Our industry should embrace these changes as they will help us develop a stronger, more flexible, and more dynamic workforce that is ready to tackle the healthcare challenges of the future.