The latest US Home Care Workers report (2019) indicates that about 2.3 million home care workers1 offer assistance and support to the elderly people and people with disabilities. The report estimates that from 2016 to 2026, approximately 4.2 million home care jobs need to be filled and this pace of increase is only going to accelerate as the US population is aging – with the population aged over 65 years expected to double from 2020 to 2060, from 49 million to almost 95 million2.
Hiring Caregivers for a Healthcare Business
While the expanding home care business opportunity is good news for healthcare businesses – fast growth in any sector may easily lead to dilution of service standards, resulting in customer dissatisfaction. Therefore, in this scenario, it is even more important that you take your time and conduct sufficient due diligence while recruiting your staff for your healthcare business.
Why Should You Hire the Best Talent Available for Your Healthcare Business?
For a healthcare business, technically, your staff is your raw material and machinery through which you offer your services. When your business starts off, it generally will not have a market reputation. It will be your first staff who will act as ambassadors of your company and build your reputation capital. If they are compassionate and great caregivers, your business will benefit from the positive word of mouth and will begin to generate high potential leads without you having to spend on your marketing campaigns.
On the other hand, if the first few staff that you hire are not great, your business runs the risk of failing due to negative word of mouth publicity. This is why, we recommend you take extra care in hiring your starting team of caregivers – pay them above market wages if required – which will pay you dividends in the medium to long term.
How to Hire a Caregiver?
A major challenge for a home healthcare business is to consistently align staff strength with business volumes. You cannot run the risk of carrying extra employees on your payroll and cannot afford to start the hiring process once you generate business – this often leads to hastened hiring and consequently suboptimal hiring.
We recommend you hire the first 2 – 3 employees on payroll and avoid running a large payroll. The rest of the caregivers can be hired as per business requirements, on contract. Moreover, at any point in time, though it may hurt your margins a bit, it is best to maintain a bit of bench strength, so that you are not caught off guard during high business volumes. Or at least have the ability to call upon a few workers when you expect business demand to be high.
Having said the above, the hiring process should start once you see foresee that your current staff will be fully utilized in the next one month and new business will have to be supported by new hires. An alternative way is to start hiring for a given talent once you anticipate the demand for that specific skill, which may not be present within your existing staff.
How to Advertise an Open Position?
The first step to attracting good caregiving talent to your company is to publish an accurate and well-drafted job description.
- When listing out the responsibilities of the position, try and be as accurate as possible, but avoid dumping all kinds of responsibilities that the job may entail. This might keep away good talent who have a wealth of experience in the industry. Also, being accurate will help you reduce churn – the caregiving industry is unfortunately plagued by high churn, most of which can be attributed to the candidates not being able to understand what the job entails.
- It also helps to give a brief description of your company, your past, and the company’s mission. This adds to the credibility of your business – also add your website, and other social media handles to that respect.
- It is absolutely essential that you mention the benefits that one may look forward to when working for your business – like above-average pay or flexibility in terms of weekly hours of work. This will often set you apart for the average recruiter.
The last and most crucial part is to publish and spread the job opening posting at the right and most relevant places.
Where to Find Talent in the Caregiver Industry?
There are several ways of finding the right talent in the caregiver industry. Network hires, hiring from community job boards, and hiring through referrals are the most common and reliable methods of hiring caregivers. A few hiring methods have been briefly discussed below.
Networking and References
This is, by far, the most reliable source of caregiving talent. Once you are in the business of caregiving, you must build your network within the caregiving ecosystem – this includes, interacting with community care centers, retirement homes, elderly care homes, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, other home health agencies. The idea is to build relationships with staff in these local organizations who may direct you to quality caregiving staff if they know of an individual who is willing to make a change in employment. The advantage of this method is, once you build a strong network, the referrals for staff that you will receive can be expected to have already crossed preliminary screening levels. Therefore, the final hire to interview ratio will increase, saving your time.
CraigsList is a widely followed job listing website. You can post your job opening on Craig’sList after you select the right location so that you receive only local applications. Further, to filter only the serious applicants out, you must ask for a couple of references along with the job application. You may choose to discuss the candidacy with the references first or choose to have the interview with the candidate first – depending on your time availability and a number of applications. Craigs List works on a freemium model. We recommend you try out the free account on Craigslist initially, before becoming a paid member if you feel the need for it.
Community Job Boards
A community job board is another great way to attract good caregiving talent. Community job boards are closely followed by earnest job seekers and will be a great way to attract new talent – job seekers who have not previously worked in the caregiving industry but have the necessary skills and motivation to be a caregiver – or somebody who can be groomed to be a good caregiver. It is much more likely that through this method you will find local candidates who stay close by to your business catchment area, reducing travel time and thereby improving the chances of a longer-term association between the employee and the business.
Once you have built up your starting army, it is a good idea to let your staff know that you are open to referrals through them. This method often results in the best hires as the person referring is already your employee and is expected to refer only a high-quality caregiver to safeguard her own reputation with your company. You must add an additional layer of safety net by talking to a few other sources who can vouch for the potential hire.
Whichever method you are using to hire a caregiver, you must insist for 2 – 3 references and thoroughly check them out yourself. In this industry, there is nothing better than speaking to an existing or past client to gauge the level of service that the caregiver has been providing. If the majority of the references check out, then most likely your potential candidate will be a good choice.
How to Keep Staff Motivated and Retain Them
- Recognizing Good Performance: Recognizing good performance and incentivizing good performance monetarily is always a good idea. You may want to recognize your best employees every quarter to spur them on towards sustained good performance.
- Favorable Working Conditions: As the owner of the business, you must take it as your responsibility to facilitate a good working condition. Your home care employees will be working out of clients’ homes mostly. You must make sure to insist your clients purchase the necessary equipment and aide to enable efficient elderly care. For example, it is a common challenge for caregivers to look after the elderly who are mobility challenged and to help in their movements. To that extent, to facilitate turning the elderly on the bed, or to enable easier transfers from the bed to the wheelchair or vice versa, a transfer blanket is immensely helpful and saves the caregiver from a potential back injury. While most clients will purchase transfer blankets, some will require a push from your side.
- Career Advancement: As your business grows, so should your employees within your business. Therefore, when you are expanding your team, it makes sense to promote your best employees to a more supervisory or senior position. This should go a long way in retaining top talent within your business.
Hiring your team for your healthcare business is probably the most crucial part of setting up your business. Without quality service from your initial employees, your business will likely not be able to make it to the break-even zone. While the article discusses a few ways of hiring your staff, you are likely to find a way with which you are most comfortable and will use that method to hire most of your employees.