The competition for labor is old news for many home care agencies, but the number of workers who are ready to jump ship might be surprising even to industry veterans.
Specifically, 65% of caregivers are “always looking for a better job,” while 97% are open to a job opportunity at any given time, according to new research findings from myCNAjobs.com, a company of Healthcare Research. MyCNAjobs, which is based in Chicago, offers a suite of recruitment tools for senior care workers.
“Companies think that once they’ve made the hire, they’ve got the hire,” myCNAjobs CEO Brandi Kurtyka told Home Health Care News. “But the thing is, because this market is so competitive…on average caregivers get three calls a week for work now.”
The report drew from two studies, including a survey conducted in December 2017, and a pay analysis of more than 1 million caregivers across the United States. It addresses several factors related to the attitude of caregivers toward their workplace, including a breakdown of what benefits workers might prioritize and where they prefer to work
The top setting of choice for caregivers was hospitals, with 27% listing that as their preferred option. Private family and home care agencies followed at 26% and 22% respectively, while 18% of caregivers would choose assisted living. Nursing homes were the least preferred setting, at 7% of caregivers.
Home care and home health agencies looking to distinguish themselves from their competitors also have to factor in more than just their peers in the aging industry, Kurtyka added.
“It’s myopic to think that your competitors are another home care agency,” she said. “Your competitors are retail, fast food, hospital.”
More than 70% of workers have worked in retail, while 43% have worked in fast food, the report found.
This chimes with the experience of Michael Melinger, a Home Instead franchise owner serving markets in and around Chicago.
“I think our strategy for a while now is that we need to be very competitive—not just competitive with other home care agencies,” he told HHCN. “We need to be competitive with similar jobs in a similar pay range. It’s not simply about the pay, it’s about other opportunities.”
But while workers naturally value good wages, location and assignments, what they want most are their hours, Melinger stressed. The uncertainty of shifts causes caregivers anxiety, especially if a client goes to the hospital or is otherwise taken off their roster, he explained.
This also is reflected in the survey data: 80% percent of caregivers said they prefer to work for one company if they can get their desired hours, and getting preferred hours in retail and fast food is often easier.
In the future, home care companies will need to figure out how to make caregiving a career that workers can truly depend on, Melinger said. That may take technology, among other factors, but he thinks it’s the way of the future for home care.
“Workers want security,” he said. “I think the companies are going to need to figure out how to be more cognizant of that.”
Written by Maggie Flynn