Homecare in the US is a sector currently experiencing extremely rapid growth, and subsequently, a high demand for employment.
In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that home health aides and personal care aides would be the third- and fourth-fastest-growing job categories between 2016 and 2026 (green energy technicians take the first two slots). According to data from the Bureau, a shortage of caregivers could mean that by 2026 there will be 7.8 million vacant positions.
Now, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and its move to endemic, even more, elderly and dependent people prefer to be cared for in the safety of their own homes
So how can you prepare your home care agency to hire and onboard, and hold onto, the brightest talent for the upcoming surge in demand?
Attract the cream of the homecare professional crop with our tips.
ENGAGEMENT – GETTING THE RIGHT CANDIDATES
Use technology – save your time, and theirs
Go paperless – most recruitment processes these days are 100% digital. Instead of your HR department spending hours looking through piles of CVs, make sure that you can use a preliminary screening method for applicants. By answering a few essential pre-qualifying questions in an online survey (experience, preferred working days, qualifications), you can ensure that only the most suitable applicants get to the next stage. This will mean that you’re not spending time on candidates who aren’t right for this type of work.
Additionally, you can keep all contracts, forms and other documents relevant to candidates’ application process online for easy reference in future.
Engage potential caregivers where they are on their mobile devices. Today over 80% of job applicants are starting their search process via their mobile phones, and those same individuals are expecting to apply to your caregiver position right from their phones.
Having a mobile-friendly digital application in-take process is a must today to attract caregivers.
Ensure your remote hiring process is standardized – easier for you, and them
An applicant tracker system (like the one in SMARTcare software) will store applicants’ information, help you to evaluate them fairly and objectively, and ensure you are up to date with each candidate’s progress is in the application process for each position to be filled.
Using these systems, you can respond to caregivers quickly, getting their attention before others look to hire them.
SMARTcare’s platform gives agencies an individually customized web link that you can place on your website, job postings, Facebook, and other online locations where caregivers are looking. This quickly feeds candidates directly into your applicant process and ‘Hiring Hub’, giving you fast access to those who show interest.
Be prepared – so your new hire hits the ground running
Is your latest new employee terrific at people skills but a little lacking in organization? Make sure that you have any training needed in place when they arrive in order to bring them up to speed.
This means the new person can fill any gaps in their skillset and be ready to start functioning straight away as an effective part of your team. Follow a standard onboarding process to make sure everyone starts off highly engaged with your agency.
Follow up – spot any potential issues
New employees don’t want to feel they have been left to fend for themselves right after starting, with no continuing support. Make sure you sit down with them after a month or two to get their feedback and pass on any constructive comments from their immediate team.
If there are any issues, better to deal with them at this early stage in their employment at your home care agency. This will feed into your ongoing review process (see below).
RETENTION – MAKING SURE THEY STAY
Care agencies often struggle to attract qualified caregivers; in addition, many employees currently with jobs in the homecare industry do not intend to stay long-term. In fact, one 2018 study found that 65 percent of caregivers are constantly hunting for a better position, while 97 percent would always be open to a new job opportunity.
How can your home care agency ensure that caregivers in your team are kept engaged?
Smooth communication, efficient management = contented caregivers, satisfied clients
Using homecare software (such as SMARTcare) ensures that communication with caregivers is always fast and fluid, accessible by all staff anytime, anywhere, thanks to the online cloud-based information storage system, HIPAA compliant chat and messaging, and its point-of-care mobile app.
Streamlined processes using the latest technology make life easier for homecare professionals – they can use the mobile apps or web software to accept shifts quickly (no need to call the agency to find out what is available), track their working hours precisely (no time-consuming form-filling), check their reward levels, and see their wage payments (no danger of lost, illegible or erroneous paperwork). No missed phone calls, no lost messages, no miscalculations or miscommunications, no wasted time.
In addition, information sources such as handbooks are always available to caregivers, empowering your care professionals to answer clients’ questions immediately. Using the app or software to instantaneously share information on client location and shifts with their agency, caregivers ensure that they manage their own schedule, taking control of their own work-life balance.
Reclaiming hours spent by caregivers on less popular admin tasks means they are more available to be fully engaged with caring for clients. In short, more of their valuable time and attention is spent where it should be, thereby boosting the satisfaction of caregivers, as well as that of clients and their families.
Career development = valued caregivers
To attract the best caregivers to join your team and retain your current employees, it is essential that your agency offers defined career tracks and opportunities for growth. Your potential and current employees must be able to see this in writing so that they can consider their own progress – where I am now, where do I want to be, and what I can do to get there?
Their goals need to be discussed during annual reviews, with regular skills assessments and training programs (see below). This career progression is key in motivating your staff to do their best in their job, seek out promotion, and, most importantly, stay at your agency rather than look for a new job elsewhere.
Staff training = motivated, loyal caregivers
Giving your valued employees the opportunity to acquire skills – whether it is honing or adapting existing knowledge, moderating behavior or grasping a brand-new ability – is another key way to ensure that you don’t lose staff. Ensuring that they feel as completely prepared as possible to carry out their job well is essential, especially in practical skills and communication. You could consider training videos, continuing education courses, coaching and leadership development programs, and certification courses.
Employees who feel appreciated because you are investing in their development will be happier, more fulfilled, and less likely to seek other employment elsewhere, as they know that they can progress further in your agency. And your highly skilled workforce will perform better, which is good news for your agency economically.