A year ago seems like a lifetime.  Very few things are the same.  Today, masks are required in many states, store hours of operation have changed, grocery store shelves seem less stocked, and the term “social distancing” has become a household phrase.  Although many things have changed, there is one thing that has not, and that is the need for more caregivers.  Some would say it is even worse despite an 8.4% unemployment rate.

Agencies across the country are scrambling to find enough caregivers for the increasing demand in home care.  What can an agency do to recruit good caregivers in the midst of a pandemic?  Here are a few things to consider.

The old saying, “Hire slow, Fire Fast” has long been thrown around in the business community.  In recruiting caregivers, that philosophy could be a detriment.  If you are too slow or your recruiting process is too cumbersome, people will bail. They will not stick around. Simply put, they will move on because the opportunities are too plentiful for them to “jump through hoops”.

Honor Care Pulse worked with agencies and recruitment experts across the industry to come up with some helpful tips:

  • Acknowledge COVID-19 and the measures your company is taking to help caregivers. Let them know if your company is providing PPE, offering hazard pay, or has COVID-19 specific training. Show that you have proper procedures in place to keep everyone safe.
  • Going virtual is key. Provide virtual interviews as well as online caregiver training. The agencies that have embraced virtual recruitment plan to continue it after COVID-19 due to the higher show-up rate and ease of back-to-back scheduling.
  •  Move quickly. Respond the same day to new applicants while handling all paperwork online and offering multiple communication channels, including text. Most caregivers work for an agency because it was the first to offer employment.

According to the 2019 Home Care Pulse Benchmarking Study, three of the top five sources for recruiting caregivers are online.  Moving your recruitment strategy online can expand your reach and educate prospective caregivers about professional caregiving opportunities.

Benchmarking your results will help you formulate a recruiting path. Do you know how many interviews it takes for you to hire one caregiver?  Keep track of these three weekly key indicators:

  1. Number of applications received
  2. Number of interviews completed from those applications
  3. Number of caregivers hired

Tracking these three key indicators will provide you valuable information on how many interviews you will need to conduct in order to hire the number of caregivers you need.  For example, you need to hire ten new caregivers and you average 20 applications per week.  Of those 20, you typically interview nine (5%) of those that applied.  Of those nine, you on average hire three (33%).  Based on this, you will need to interview on average three caregivers to hire one.  Therefore, you would need to interview about 30 caregivers to hire 10.  Knowing this number creates a weekly recruiting requirement to reach your goals.

Using a recruitment company can provide additional applications at a cost. Some will work better than others. It is best to understand the price and if you can set spending limits that will produce the number of interviews you need.  A high volume of applicants does not automatically provide you the number of caregivers you need. If you are using a recruiting company, be aware of your return on investment.  Track the number of hires you get compared to the fees associated with the caregiver leads.

The timing of your search is crucial.  According to the 2019 Recruitment Media Benchmark Report, most caregivers look for work Monday through Wednesday.  Responses to online ads drop significantly after Thursday.

Potential caregivers live inside and outside your community.  Do not limit yourself to only the community you serve.  Caregivers from rural communities may be willing to work in the suburbs or urban areas.  Bus lines can also be a target that can produce applications.

Update your job postings to acknowledge COVID-19 and assure them of the measures you are taking to help protect your caregivers.  According to myCNAjobs, only 12% of agencies have updated their job postings since COVID-19 started.  Still those that acknowledge COVID-19 and discuss how they’re handling it in their job postings are seeing many more applicants than those that don’t. Fair wages, job flexibility, and respecting employees have always been key to recruiting and retaining caregivers. Today, agencies need also to reassure caregivers that they can keep them safe.

My CNAJobs.com suggests, if any of the following are true for your agency, they should be included in your job postings:

  • Your agency is offering hazard pay
  • Your caregivers have the PPE that they need
  • Your agency has thorough procedures for handling COVID-19 patients while keeping caregivers safe
  • Your company is holding virtual interviews
  • Your company offers all-online caregiver training
  • Your company offers COVID-19 specific training

myCNAJobs conducted a COVID-19 survey.  The results stated that over 65% of agencies are holding virtual interviews to hire caregivers.  Many agencies plan to continue them after the COVID-19 crisis is over because of the higher interview show-up rate and the ease of scheduling them back-to-back.  Some platforms used are Teams, Zoom, or GoToMeeting.

To be successful, agencies should respond to applicants quickly, communicate throughout the process, and do as much as you can online.  The easier you make it for them to go through the process, the more likely you will have the opportunity to hire them.  Caregivers respond in different ways.  It would be ideal to add to your application how they want to be communicated with, such as text, email, or phone call.

Professional caregiving is something many people are drawn to but often do not know how to get into the field. An agency can offer a training class via Zoom or other virtual video conferencing tools for people interested in home care and/or caregiving. Provide a certificate for completion and hire the ones that fit your culture. If you have friendly competitors, offer to provide remaining students contact information as potential caregivers.

Another great place to advertise is with an ESL or GED class.  Placing a banner ad or print ad may provide an employment opportunity the students had not considered.  Another area many do not think to look is with former and current client families.  Send an email or letter to let them know you are looking for compassionate caregivers.  Families who appreciate the services their family member received may want to give back by becoming a professional caregiver themselves.

Starting an employment add with phrases to grab the attention of displaced service workers can open an entirely new caregiver market.  Phrases such as:

  • Restaurant Servers make great caregivers. Interested?
  • House Cleaner with a passion for people needed

There are many creative ways to continue your recruiting efforts during a pandemic.  Utilizing Facebook can provide your agency with both clients and caregivers. Record an interview with a current caregiver about why they work for your agency. Post the interview on Facebook to demonstrate to potential clients and their families the level of passion your caregivers have.  Not only could you gain a client or two but possible future employees.

Seek out newly retired individuals who may be looking for meaningful part-time work.  Place an ad with churches, synagogues, or mosques.  Reach out to HR departments at corporations/factories in your area.  Ask if you can provide a flyer for retirees.  Hospitals are not utilizing as many volunteers, check with the hospital to see if you can provide opportunities to those former volunteers.

Today, recruitment takes full-time effort and definitely thinking outside the traditional recruiting methods.  It requires marketing strategies and continual hiring.  The days of placing a Craig’s List ad and taking your pick is long gone.  Agencies that do not move to a more aggressive virtual format will be left behind. Adding a few of the methods described in this blog could make a big difference.

Written for savii, Inc. Savii Care is the end-to-end agency management solution that is extremely easy to use and highly effective at managing all of your non-clinical agency needs. Our all-in-one solution seamlessly integrates everything from referrals, intake, authorizations, scheduling, personnel records, data tracking, reporting, billing and expenses. We make managing workflows and profitability easier, so you can keep the focus on providing the best possible care. https://www.saviicare.com/
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About Cheryl Hammons CFE, CSA

Cheryl Hammons is an experienced home care professional, published author, and frequent speaker. She has held several roles throughout her 12 years in the home care industry, including training, support, and operations. She currently serves as Strategic Partnership Director at Veterans Care Coordination where she focuses on building value-driven relationships, developing revenue-generating programs, and creating educational materials for home care partner companies. Cheryl is the author of "Embracing a New Normal: Dealing with Grief" and "Respecting Religious Differences in Home Care."