The stakes are higher than ever for attracting hourly workers as retail and hospitality are now offering sign-on bonuses, flexible schedules and even free tutoring for employees’ children. But these industries are no match for the innovative and resourceful best practices we are seeing from post-acute healthcare providers as of late. Here are some of the creative ways that senior care organizations are upping the ante when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff in this highly competitive market.
Getting Creative With Staffing Pools
It’s no surprise that agency worker usage increased during the pandemic. But now, as providers are working to break this trend, many have begun implementing internal staffing pools as an alternative to agency, which has been known to negatively impact resident and staff satisfaction. OnShift CEO Mark Woodka recently told Skilled Nursing News, “Our multi-facility provider customers are creating internal float pools, almost [like] internal agencies, where they’re hiring people to work in one of a number of buildings,” said Woodka. “Instead of working in a building, I might have five buildings in Cleveland. I hire people to work in a float pool, and I’ll tell them the week before what building they’re going to work in.”
This helps providers reduce costs associated with agency workers, adjust to shifting census and fill shifts with their own staff members that they know and trust.
More Attractive Health Insurance Plans
“When we’re looking at things like benefits, can we dust them off and look at them in a different way?” asked Nathan Levoit, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Talent at Silverado, during a recent Argentum webinar on reducing turnover.
Silverado is currently exploring a new way of handling the employee-paid portion of health insurance premiums. “Those premium payments may be really expensive in the long run. But I’ll tell you what’s more expensive, recruiting,” he asserted. “So if you can look at some benchmarks of tenure and then couple those with the opportunity to lower payments for our associates who stay with us for a longer period of time, that may be a great retention tool for your organization.”
Faith & Mission-Based Recruiting
With high competition for the general segment of hourly workers, many providers have begun to think outside the box and target a population that’s primed for this line of work – older folks whose faith is aligned with the mission of senior care who, although retired from the workforce, might be interested in picking up a few shifts at their local nursing home.
Non-profit organizations such as food banks and shelters present another area of opportunity as many are staffed with retirees looking to give back to their communities.
Job Opportunities For Underprivileged Youth
New Jewish Home, located in New York City’s Upper West Side, is supporting their talent pipeline and giving opportunities to underprivileged youth with their Geriatric Career Development Program – which offers pre-certified nursing assistant training (CNA), a home health aide course and internships.
Although the program has been driving excellent results since 2006 (~200 have graduated from the program and 76% have gone on to be hired by the New Jewish Home), Jeffrey Farber, M.D., president and CEO of The New Jewish Home, recently told Skilled Nursing News, “I absolutely see our program as a national solution to [our workforce challenge], while also having proven to be a powerful high school enrichment program and a pathway out of poverty for underprivileged youth in under-resourced communities.”
Safer & Swankier Break Rooms
David Dillard, FAIA, Senior Living Practice Leader, Principal, DKS, Dallas told Skilled Nursing News that he’s seen a trend in employee break room makeovers. Some designs include balconies and other amenities geared at creating a luxurious and relaxing space for employees to unwind. And these new spaces are functional too.
“[Designs are being drawn] with more separation for the inbound and outbound employees so they can do their wellness check-points more safely when coming and going from work,” Dillard said. “The goal is to make as many things in the process as ‘touchless’ as possible.”
I love this idea and have experienced success doing something similar first-hand. When I joined Kindred Healthcare in 2002 as the head of HR for the skilled nursing division, one of my first projects to address turnover was to facilitate giving employee break rooms across the company a much-needed refresh. We launched a break room makeover contest, where each facility was given $1,000 to redo their spaces. The results were truly impressive and many of the groups even formed employee committees to come up with themes, agree on priority items, etc. A facility in Indianapolis adopted an Indy 500 theme with paintings of race cars on the walls. Another in Florida created a tropical-themed room, complete with coral reefs. The three facilities with the most impressive transformation received additional capital to spend on employees.
Although this was just one of many initiatives that contributed to reducing our turnover rate down to well below the industry average, it was a great place to start. It created an atmosphere of excitement and signaled that positive change was in the works.