Technology-enabled home care services company Honor has turned to a former Lyft executive for help beefing up its caregiver recruitment and retention efforts. The infusion of leadership talent comes as the San Francisco-based Honor expands into America’s Heartland.
Founded in 2014, Honor partners with home care agencies and other senior care providers by taking over caregiver recruiting, onboarding and training responsibilities while also handling back-office tasks such as scheduling and billing. Under that co-branded structure, Honor then receives a pre-negotiated portion of an agency’s revenue.
Publicly, Honor has touted partnerships with roughly two dozen home care agencies. Overall, the Andreessen Horowitz-backed company — which has raised $115 million since launching — says its services are available across more than 800 cities and towns in six states.
While growing its business, the recruitment, retention and general experience of caregivers has risen to a core tenet for Honor. As part of that focus, the company brought in Lyft veteran Dave Mayer earlier this year to serve as its senior vice president of operations.
So far, Mayer says he sees certain similarities between Honor and Lyft Inc. (Nasdaq: LYFT).
“At Lyft, our product was the people — the drivers,” Mayer told Home Health Care News. “If you have a great driver at Lyft, that makes all the difference, and it’s the same thing [with caregivers] here at Honor.”
During his four years at Lyft, Mayer served as general manager for the ride-hailing company’s San Francisco footprint, then later as its point person for the entire West Coast. By the end of his Lyft tour, Mayer was responsible for over $1 billion in revenue, 800 employees and 50% of the company’s entire business.
He moved to Honor after hearing a podcast about the company and its mission to modernize home care.
“I was fascinated by the business,” Mayer said.
In particular, Mayer said he was fascinated with Honor because he saw areas where he could apply his operations experience from Lyft, helping Honor achieve its mission of creating compelling experiences for its caregivers — and positive experiences for the customer.
Although there are similarities between Honor and Lyft’s commitment to workers, Mayer pointed out that the business models themselves are substantially different, with Lyft being much more “transactional” than home care.
When Mayer started with Lyft, the company had about 300 employees; it now has more than 4,500. Honor is also currently around the 300-employee mark, he said, with a 30-member team specifically dedicated to its ongoing workforce efforts.
Since joining Honor, Mayer has gleaned several insights into what job applicants and caregivers — or “Care Pros,” as the startup calls them — want. They’re insights that all home care agencies can learn from.
On the recruiting side, for example, Mayer has learned there’s a strong correlation between the time it takes agencies to follow up with potential new hires and when their initial applications were submitted.
“Track the [recruitment funnel] really closely,” he said. “What we’ve found is that after you get an application, the longer it takes you to respond and [connect with potential new hires], the lower the conversion rate for those applicants. We encourage people to reach out immediately, do a short phone screen and then get those applicants in the door.”
Recently, Honor made “a pretty sizable investment in online advertising,” Mayer said.
Additionally, Honor sets a relatively high bar for its caregiver teams, incorporating strict quality standards and criteria into the hiring process. Honor’s applicant-to-hire rate over the last 12 months is just 5%, according to company statistics shared with HHCN.
Once a home care agency does hire a caregiver, it’s critical to assign that new employee regular work right away. That’s especially true for experienced caregivers, Mayer noted.
“We’ve found that if you give a caregiver work within the first two weeks, they’re much more likely to stay on … for a long time,” he said. “One of the biggest correlations [to] churn is hours worked.”
Industry-wide, the home care turnover — or churn — rate checked in at an all-time high of 82% in 2018, according to Home Care Pulse. Honor’s internal mark with partner agencies is around 45%, a figure that has steadily fallen over the past few years.
At 36%, Honor’s churn rate is even lower for “optimized” caregivers, or individuals who feel like they’re respect and hours needs are being fully met.
Another lesson: More than regular hours or flexible pay, caregivers desire respect.
“Respect can manifest itself in a number of different ways,” Mayer said. “I talk to a lot of Care Pros about what respect means. They say things like, ‘Every time I called, I was able to get somebody on the phone.’ Little things matter.”
Honor announced expansions into Ohio and Michigan in October.
In Cleveland, the company has teamed up with Bridgewater Senior Home Care. Meanwhile, Affordable Home Care and Bridgeway Senior Services — both based in Detroit — also joined the Honor network.
Ohio and Michigan are each among the oldest states in the U.S.
In Michigan, another 30,000 personal care aides will be needed by 2020 to provide care for the state’s aging population, according to New York-based direct-care worker advocacy organization PHI. In Ohio, a survey conducted by fellow advocacy organization LeadingAge reported 57% of respondents having fewer aides than planned.
“Our biggest struggle was finding and retaining enough quality caregivers to keep up with increasing demand,” Molly Koenig, owner of Bridgewater Senior Home Care, said in a statement. “I’m always looking for new ways of thinking and doing things … .”
Prior to Ohio and Michigan, Honor entered into the Arizona market in April, thanks partly to a partnership with Cypress HomeCare Solutions. HHCN recently caught up with Cypress Managing Partner Bob Roth at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) 2019 conference in Seattle.
“2019 was a big year for us,” Roth told HHCN. “It was a year of change.”
Broadly, converting Cypress to the Honor network has allowed Roth to spend more time with clients and tackle big-picture issues shaping the home care industry, he said. A couple of those issues are immigration reform and the Credit for Caring Act.
“I see a world in the future where the home is really the center for care,” Roth said. “So I’m trying to do everything I can to help make that happen.”
While there were several reasons Roth decided to partner with Honor, it’s the increased ability to recruit and retain caregivers that was most appealing.
“I didn’t want to be here in 2022, scratching my head and saying, ‘What the heck! Where are these caregivers?” Roth said.