group of nurses at table

This is not your parents’ workforce. Home care agencies must keep that in mind as they hire a new generation of caregivers. That advice came from recruitment and staffing guru John Dalton to National Association for Home Care & Hospice members during a webinar Wednesday.

The founder of Florida-based Optimum RTS said many of the workers who will fill the estimated 8 million new jobs needed in home care by the end of the decade will be millennials. Those workers, he warned, won’t put their jobs before their personal lives.

“They feel they can get a job anywhere,” Dalton said. “They don’t see money the same way Gen Xers or baby boomers see money.”

To that end, Dalton said home care agencies need to start thinking more creatively about everything from scheduling to benefits in order to recruit, and perhaps even more importantly, retain workers. He suggested agencies schedule staff for nine-hour days, but alternate Fridays off every other week. Flexible scheduling could also allow some workers to begin and end their shifts an hour earlier or an hour later to suit their personal needs.

“We have to go to where the employees are,” Dalton advised. 

Onboarding ideas

Once an employee is hired, a company’s onboarding program will determine the worker’s trajectory for success within the first two weeks, according to Dalton. During that period agencies must set clear expectations of what the employee’s role will be and the most challenging aspects of the job.

Dalton strongly recommends tapping mentors who embrace the company’s values to help guide the new hire during the first 90 days of their employment.

“Find someone [new recruits] can ask questions that they couldn’t ask upper management,” Dalton said. “A good mentor can help gauge where the employee’s head is at.” 

Retention needs

Beside adapting to a new generation, home care has had to adjust its recruiting and retaining strategies in the face of a massive workforce crisis. Retaining employees in a competitive labor market is increasingly important due to the high cost of replacing workers. Dalton put the cost at three to four times the departing worker’s salary. He urged home care providers to always conduct exit interviews to identify trouble spots within their organizations that might be contributing to employee turnover.

“When asking for their feedback, listen,” Dalton advised. “You don’t learn anything by doing the talking.”