While business shutdowns during the COVID-19 crisis have resulted in high unemployment for many industries, the home care industry remains poised for further growth. This means that the constant demand for caregivers is likely to continue throughout 2021.
Many home care agencies across the country are desperately trying to find and recruit enough caregivers to support increasing demand in home health care. Simultaneously, they face challenges in the hiring process due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, such as mandatory social distancing measures.
With one in two job seekers reportedly turning down job offers due to an unsatisfactory experience during the hiring process, what can your home care agency do to stand out from the crowd and find and recruit quality caregivers during a pandemic?
Regardless of the job market, top talent will always have the ability to be selective. Creating a positive candidate experience and automating the application process need to be top priorities if you want to rise above the competition, attract the right caregivers, and build your reputation as the best place to work.
If you are struggling to adapt your usual hiring process into a remote hiring process, we’ve put together ten tips to help you find and recruit caregivers online during the COVID-19 crisis.
1. Create a standardized remote hiring process
Having a standardized hiring process in place for online recruitment, that is mobile-friendly, will save you time and money, give you greater caregiver access, allow you to be consistent in your hiring decisions, and to make good quality hires.
If you haven’t done so already, you need to ensure you have a standardized hiring process in place that works for online recruitment. This doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel. If you used to hire in-person but are now hiring remotely (or partially remotely), you can easily adapt your existing process.
A remote hiring process will still have the same goals and require the same steps to help you evaluate and hire the right people for your home care team. You just need to consider how you can adapt them for online recruitment – and if they can’t be adjusted, what can you replace them with.
2. Use technology to run your remote hiring process
Even with a standardized remote hiring process in place, there can still be a considerable amount of administrative work involved in collecting, storing and managing the information sent in by applicants. Using technology that is specifically designed for hiring caregivers will give you an edge. It will equip you with the framework needed to run a great standardized hiring process and be beneficial in numerous ways.
An applicant tracking system (ATS), like the one built into SMARTcare software, simplifies your remote hiring process, reaches caregiver candidates wherever they are (with mobile-friendly applicant tools), and ultimately saves you time and money – while also creating better quality hires.
- Saving time on administrative tasks. The centralized hub automatically collects and stores everything applicants send you, including cover letters, resumes, work samples, and other documents you require.
- Evaluating applicants using the same measurable, objective criteria. It provides a hiring process rubric to assess and evaluate all candidates equally and fairly throughout every step of the process.
- Pre-qualifying candidates effectively. By adding pre-qualifying questions to your application, you can automatically fast-track applicants who meet your most essential criteria (e.g. years of experience, desired hours or certifications). This will give you more time to focus on the very best caregivers for your team.
- Managing the applicant pipeline. The ‘Hiring Hub’ quickly and efficiently helps you see where every candidate is in the process and assesses the best hires for your agency.
3. Make sure you understand your audience during COVID-19
Many things have changed during the pandemic, including the home care labor market. You can ensure that your agency is the employer of choice for exceptional caregivers by first understanding what’s important to them in the current climate.
It is essential to be aware of the shifts and their direct impact on caregivers’ lives, and adapt your hiring strategy accordingly. For example:
- many schools are closed across the US, leaving caregivers with few care options – they may require more flexibility to be able to juggle work with their own family needs
- due to COVID-19 safety protocols, caregivers that used to work for multiple agencies may now be restricted to just one
- public transport options may be limited, affecting commute times or distance that can be travelled
- the two biggest drivers have changed since 2019, to workplace safety and wages
- high levels of new, inexperienced people are available for home care work, due to unemployment – they are looking for a good agency to take them under their wing.
In general, survey results show that caregiver satisfaction is higher now than pre-COVID, with caregivers responding well to the challenges of working remotely. However, they still value working for a good employer above all else, an employer that understands their needs and treats them well.
Even though home care still has an active job market, caregivers are becoming more selective about which jobs they will apply for, given the changes to their personal circumstances.
Caregivers are looking for employers with flexibility, competitive wages, and those that create an environment that is comfortable and safe. They are also looking for agencies that are using the latest technology to make their jobs easier in the home, including mobile point-of-care apps that are easy to use. Research has also shown that caregivers want to work for a company (and leaders) that they like. It’s the ‘likeability factor’ that makes the difference to whether someone does a great job and chooses to stay, including warmth, kindness, and understanding. Relationships rule.
4. Update your online job postings to acknowledge COVID-19
According to a recent survey, only 12% of home care agencies have updated their job postings since COVID-19 began. Those that are acknowledging COVID-19 and explaining how their agency is responding to it in their job posts are seeing a higher rate of applicants than those that aren’t.
Fair wages, job flexibility, and respecting employees have always been key to recruiting and retaining caregivers. Today, agencies also need to reassure caregivers that they can keep them safe. You need to refresh the content on your job posts to address current conditions and concerns if you want to attract quality caregivers.
Acknowledge COVID-19 and the measures your agency is taking to protect caregivers. Let potential applicants know if your agency provides PPE, offers hazard pay, or has COVID-19 specific training. Show that you have proper procedures in place to keep everyone safe.
Where appropriate, it is important to advertise in your job posts that you are:
- offering hazard pay
- providing your caregivers with the PPE that they need
- up-to-date procedures for handling COVID-19 patients while keeping caregivers safe
- holding virtual interviews
- offering all-online caregiver training, including COVID-19 specific training.
5. Focus on the best places online for recruiting caregivers
A recent analysis of the best places to post jobs for the home health care industry reveals that while the major generic job boards dominate the industry as a source of applicant volume (93%), they fall short when it comes to hires (37%). Custom links, which typically account for only 2% of applicants, actually yield a near-equal 36% of hires.
This would indicate that you should be focusing your efforts on recruiting from Google maps and agency listings, industry-specific job boards and local career/job sites.
You should also be using your agency’s website to organically source caregiver candidates, with active links on your home page that connect them right into your applicant process. High-quality caregivers are applying via home care agency careers’ pages online – resulting in 23% of hires from only 3% of applicants – so make sure your website and social media job pages are up-to-date and easy to find.
For example, SMARTcare’s platform gives agencies an individual customized link to feed candidates right into the applicant process and ‘Hiring Hub’, quickly giving you access to those who show interest.
6. Get the job postings right
While there is no magical solution to attracting and recruiting more caregivers, there are many ways you can increase the number of caregivers applying to your agency. Writing better job postings is one critical method you can employ to take your recruitment efforts to the next level. They are typically your first point of contact with caregivers and, if used correctly, they can act attract exactly the kind of caregivers you are looking for.
As mentioned above, you will need to adapt your job postings to address current conditions and concerns, but there are key things you still need to get right, for example:
- Be relevant, mention training and video interviews
- List the essential details at the top (pay, hours/shifts, start dates, benefits, etc.)
- Post a job every 4–7 days
- Post in different cities throughout you territory
- Get branded
- Keep it short and sell
- Simplify requirements
- Post evergreen and specific shift jobs
- Regularly update your job titles and copy
- Display any awards that you have won
- Include caregiver video testimonials
- Include a single clear call to action that is easy to find and use.
The top 6 questions that myCNAjobs receive in their home care, caregiver community are:
- Is training required?
- Does the company provide training to teach me how to best care for someone right now?
- Will I know if my client or patient has COVID-19?
- Is there paid sick time if I get sick?
- Is there additional pay available for taking care of a COVID-19 patient?
- Do you have work and hours available right now?
These are the current, key concerns, so make sure you cover them in your postings to save caregivers’ time.
7. Respond to applicants quickly
In the current climate, where caregivers’ opportunities are plentiful, if you are too slow or your recruiting process is too cumbersome, people will not hang around. Most caregivers work for an agency because the application process was easy, and the agency was the first to offer them a job.
Aim to respond the same day to new applicants, while handling all paperwork online. Offer multiple communication channels, including text or email. It would be ideal to add to your application how they prefer to communicate, such as text, email, or video/phone call.
After applicants initially apply, it is vital to follow up quickly. Over 30% of job seekers rank this first follow-up as most important for a positive candidate experience. Make time to review candidates daily, and decide who to move forward or send a polite rejection. The easier you make it for applicants to go through the process, the more likely you will have the opportunity to hire them.
8. Embrace virtual interviewing
In a recent survey on COVID19 hiring, results showed that over 65% of agencies now hold virtual interviews to hire caregivers, with many agencies planning to continue them beyond the COVID-19 crisis. Virtual interviews are proving to have a higher interview show-up rate and are easier to schedule back-to-back. Common platforms being used are Teams, Zoom, and GoToMeeting.
It goes without saying that remote interviewing needs to follow the same rules and standards as in-person interviewing. You still need to be fully prepared, minimize distractions, and leave plenty of time for questions. Also, make sure you provide instructions on how to access the virtual interview well-ahead of time and be understanding about any tech problems or home distractions that might happen during the interview!
9. Track your results
Tracking results from your online hiring process will help you evolve the process and build on your successes. Keep track of weekly key indicators, such as:
- Number of applications received
- Where the applicants came from
- Number of interviews completed from those applications
- Number of caregivers hired.
Using home care software, like SMARTcare’s Hiring Hub, agencies can track and manage the complete hiring process online. This means you can respond more quickly to candidates that come in and better assess the best potential hires, helping to secure top caregivers.
Additionally, using KPI dashboards and hiring insight analytics, agencies can see where they are having the most success and continue to improve on this.
10. Retain the caregivers you hire
According to a home care benchmarking study, last year over 67% of caregivers left their agency, and 57% of those who left did so in the first 90 days.
It’s important to remember that online hiring isn’t just about attracting and hiring the right candidates. After all the time and energy spent on those processes, it is crucial to keep your hired caregivers on board. It is your responsibility to help them feel supported, provide adequate training, and maintain consistent communication. Caregivers rarely get to see their coworkers and can feel disconnected from their agency and become dissatisfied with their work. You need to make sure you help them feel like a part of a team and empower them to succeed.
This is obviously far more challenging during a pandemic, with fewer opportunities for staff get-togethers and in-person relationship building. Still, it is possible to be creative and move most of the proven team-building strategies to an online format.
Your home care software can help with retention if it’s designed like SMARTcare’s platform, which enables higher caregiver engagement levels, increases loyalty and improves retention. Customers using SMARTcare are experiencing caregiver retention rates 2 to 3 times higher than the industry standard.
It is also possible to find other ways to reward your team and keep them happy, motivated and engaged. For example, thank them and show your gratitude via email, text and social media channels. Get creative about building team community with online strategies, such as:
- morning coffee conversations
- group training
- before shift check-in
- after shift check-in
- training and education
- group orientations and chat links to help candidates complete paperwork.
Standing out from the crowd and finding the best caregivers for your home care team poses new challenges during a pandemic, but home care agencies need to be looking at recruitment and retention differently now and adapting accordingly.
Creating a competitive advantage requires a combination of building and maintaining your online recruitment and retention processes, embracing technology, using the right online channels, the right tools, the correct tracking and the right offering.
It is an ever-evolving process to create and build a strong team. However, it is these strong teams that will significantly outperform the rest in 2021 – and your agency’s success depends on the strength of your team.
For more information on how SMARTcare software can help you streamline your online hiring process, please contact us today.