Eden Health — the home services division of the Vancouver, Washington-based EmpRes Healthcare Management LLC — is growing. That’s good news for the Eden workers that have a stake in the business, which happens to be almost all of them.
EmpRes and Eden are employee-owned. In 2008, Dale Patterson decided that he wanted to do something to make sure that all of his employees had some sort of a retirement fund.
That desire sparked the idea for an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). A pure employee-owned business structure is far from common among home-based care providers, but it’s something more may consider to keep employees engaged and avoid persistent staffing challenges.
The ESOP is valued against how the industry is doing as a whole compared to how EmpRes is doing. EmpRes provides skilled nursing, assisted living, home health, hospice and home care services in nine states across the western United States.
As soon as someone works at least 1,000 hours for the company — just 125 eight-hour work days — he or she becomes vested and begins to earn stock. As the employee’s time with the company increases, that person’s vested interest increases as well.
After six years, an eligible Eden Health employee is 100% vested into the EmpRes ESOP.
Even the CEO does not have more of a vested interest than anyone else who has been working at the company for as long as him. EmpRes feels that this is a perfect way to reward employees for the value that they provide.
Eden Health was established in 2014 and provides home health, hospice and private-duty home care services.
The structure allows employees to rank their priorities appropriately, Jamie Brown, the vice president of home services at Eden Health, told Home Health Care News.
“It truly requires all of our employees to put patient care and satisfaction first on a daily basis,” Brown said. “From our CEO down to our [certified nursing assistants] (CNAs), everyone is invested in the growth. And it just creates beautiful things.”
The ESOP inclusion is beneficial for a variety of reasons, including recruiting, retention and general employee morale.
“The recruiting piece is huge,” Brown said. “We have people actually reach out to us and say, ‘Hey, we heard that you’re employee-owned — what does that mean?’ When we explain it over the phone or in an interview setting, people just want to come and work for something like that.”
CNAs are increasingly less likely to work for low wages, according to Tampa-based myCNAjobs’ 2020 National Caregiver Pay Report. As Target (NYSE: TGT), Amazon (NYSE: AMZN), Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and other retailers raise their wages, it’s hard for workers to opt for the often lower paycheck in home care, no matter how strong their caregiving passion.
In a lot of ways, the employee-owned structure keeps employees from having to sacrifice anything.
“We all love what we do, and we love to take care of our patients,” Brown said. “To have something to look forward to at the end of your career like that, while doing what you love at the same time, is incredible.”
Employees must work 1,000 hours per year to maintain their ESOP. That comes out to just about 20 hours per week, so part-time workers are eligible as well.
Eden also gains a competitive advantage from an attention-to-detail standpoint. Anecdotally, employees are less likely to be wasteful with time, money or other resources when the company’s success dictates theirs, Brown said.
“Having that employee-owned piece definitely helps people be more conscientious about their expenses at each agency location,” he added.
The strategy seems to be working. Eden has big M&A plans in the near future and sees the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) as one way to facilitate that growth.
“We are looking to grow our home services division very significantly,” Brown said. “With PDGM coming, [there’s] a lot of mom-and-pops that are looking to sell because of cash flow and not having the resources to manage, so that’s been an opportunity for us to acquire for the last three acquistions we did.”
Eden got started early on that front in January, acquiring Legacy Home Healthcare, an Arizona-based provider. That landed it in Arizona’s Sierra Vista and Safford markets; Eden now plans on continuing efforts to expand in the southern part of the state.
From 2018 to 2019, Eden experienced 13% growth with its operating agencies and made three acquisitions on top of that.
In 2020, the goal is to double revenue, Brown said.
That goal is shared from the top-down. After all, growth and success at Eden means more than just increased cash flow or a larger budget. It means added long-term financial security for all of its workers as well.