When home care agencies talk about the importance of recruitment and retention, the focus is generally on caregivers.
However, creating a sustainable workforce model – one that promotes retention up and down the ladder of an agency – is about more than just the caregivers.
“When we’ve taken a [closer] look at how we can really move the needle, the low-hanging fruit between recruitment and retention is retention,” Michelle Cone, senior vice president of training and brand programs at HomeWell Care Services, said last month at Home Health Care News’ FUTURE conference. “Not just the retention of our caregivers, but retention at the agency level of our key associates.”
Cone referred to a study that suggested that retention at all positions within an organization begets retention elsewhere.
“That, by default, positively impacts the retention of our caregivers,” she said.
HomeWell is a Burkburnett, Texas-based home care franchise with over 80 locations across the U.S.
HomeWell leaders believe that those in middle management and higher-level positions need to be supported in order for caregivers themselves to thrive.
“One of our strategies at HomeWell is to focus on giving those key associates,” Cone said. “The resources, tools, learning, education and support that they need so that they can — in turn — support and advocate and be there for that caregiver workforce.”
Companies like Aveanna Healthcare Holdings (Nasdaq: AVAH) have shifted their focus to hiring at a quicker pace.
“For us as an organization, this really comes down to speed to hire,” Elias Lee, regional director of talent acquisition at Aveanna, said during the panel. “We do spend advertising dollars attracting applicants to us, so making that speed-to-hire process where it’s timely and caregivers know what to expect, they are then able to move through the process quicker and ultimately be in our patients’ home sooner — which is the end goal.”
Based in Atlanta, Aveanna provides home health, hospice and pediatric care services across 42 states.
Lee and his team took stock of the company’s hiring and onboarding processes.
From there, Aveanna decided to focus on what it could control, which was that speed component.
“We pulled a lot of our departments together, sat down and challenged each other to really dissect and innovate our onboarding process,” Lee said. “There’s a lot more technology involved in our applicant tracking system that helps manage that. That’s proved to have a real upside. We’re utilizing that technology, pulling the data and making decisions based on what it shows us. It’s been really beneficial to us to create the best onboarding process that we’ve streamlined across Aveanna.”
The accuracy and reliability of that data are also important for other parts of the business.
“We need to — as an industry — make sure that our owner-operators are extracting as much value from the platforms as possible,” Cone said. “It’s credit in, credit out, right? You need to make sure that all of our teams are putting the right information in, so we can use that data to direct and provide insights into making strategic business decisions.”
As both Cone and Lee said, it’s all about those first 90 days.
“We know that when we’re able to place them with a client quicker and we’re able to provide as much support and encouragement and appreciation as possible in those first 90 days, that’s when the magic happens,” Cone said. “That’s when we see the success rates of retention start to climb.”
Technology will continue to play a major role in how agencies improve their staffing situations.
At the same time, old-school approaches can be just as beneficial.
“Before we look at technologies and dashboards and these other tools, I think the first thing we need to look at is the mirror,” Griswold CEO Michael Slupecki said during the panel. “I feel like it starts at the top. We need to look in the mirror to make sure we’re attracting the right talent because A players don’t work for B bosses.”
The Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based Griswold provides personal care services via more than 170 locations in 30 states.
Slupecki, a veteran of the industry for more than 20 years, said a key aspect of recruitment and retention is finding folks within a team that mirror a company’s culture.
“If you match up those cultural aspects, you keep that retention at the middle manager level — which I think also then drives caregiver retention and recruitment,” he said. “Everything flows from the top. I always say to people, “If you’re working on getting all A players, and you’re wondering whether or not so-and-so is an A player, they’re not. You never wonder about your A players. We really have to look at our teams and make sure we’re optimizing those teams to the best of our ability.”