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  • Writer's pictureCurtis Stanley

Insights on Recruitment and Retention

Hello Friends!

We hear a lot from our partners about their staffing challenges. This week we’re sharing a bit about what we hear and some ideas for success.

What makes staffing difficult?

1. Competition for Staff

HCBS Providers compete with nursing homes, other agencies, and other sectors for the same pool of available staff. This competition includes the availability of higher wages and better benefits offered by larger organizations, and unless an organization is growing, there's little room for career advancement.

This makes competition for quality staff fierce.

2. Limited Funding

Providers operate with tight budgets and limited margins due to state and federal funding limitations. This makes it hard to offer competitive salaries and benefits.

3. Regulation

While essential for ensuring quality and safety, regulation and compliance tasks add to the operational burden, squeezing margins and limiting flexibility to schedule staff.

4. Workforce Development and Retention 

Providers need a special workforce. They need people who are caregivers at heart. People who are compassionate, patient, and have the physical and emotional strength to cope with challenging ADLs. 

Recruiting, developing and retaining staff with a strong commitment to compassionate person-centered care requires ongoing support and training, which is challenging for providers with limited resources.

5. Burnout and Turnover 

The emotional and physical demands of direct service work creates high levels of burnout. When this is mixed with lower pay, it means high turnover rates. Higher turnover makes staffing even harder.

Strategies for Success

1. Hiring and Recruitment Incentives

While financial constraints are a reality, finding creative ways to attract and retain quality staff is critical. For example:

New Employee Performance Bonuses: Rewarding new employees for good performance can be a powerful recruiting inventive. It encourages attention to detail and work availability while they’re settling into their new role.

Instead of the new employee feeling they’re in a “probationary” period, they'll feel more like they’re enjoying a special level of support and will earn bonuses as they grow in to their role and earn good feedback from management.

Employee Referral Incentives: Activate the power of your current employees by offering recruitment bonuses for successful referrals.

If an employee refers a new hire who is successfully earning New Employee Performance Bonuses, a referral bonus can be made to the referring employee on the same milestones. This turns the referring employee into part of the support network for the Provider and encourages the new employee to succeed. This also helps build a sense of community support and expands the network effect of recruitment.

Referral incentives can also help motivate family members employed under the Appendix K provisions. It leverages their own community relationships to identify individuals with the compassion and other qualities that make for good staff choices. 

2. Workforce Retention

When financial incentives are limited, it is especially important to create a supportive work environment that values employee well-being. Some agencies such as:

Life Insurance: Offering a small, company-paid life insurance policy to help with long term financial security.

Holiday Pay: For select holidays that require work with their clients, show the staff that they are valued for working the holiday.

Personal Paid Days Off: Offering a respite from the burdens of demanding service work, and allowing workers an opportunity to attend to personal and family matters from time to time can go a long way in helping staff members at times of stress.

A policy that offers a small number of paid days off, coupled with a practice of checking in with staff to be aware of their stress levels allows the personal day benefit to contribute to a collaborative and supportive relationship with management.

Direct burden Reimbursement: Some burdens just go with the job, and recognizing that can be really appreciated.  Reimbursing the cost of required periodic training like First Aid is a small but appreciated option.  Offering gas cards from time-to-time for staff members who have to drive a long the way to turn in progress notes can be really helpful, especially when gas prices are going up as they are now.

Leverage Technology: Adopting technology can help streamline operations and reduce the administrative burden on staff. Less administrative time becomes more time focused on client care. Additionally, technology can support remote training and professional development opportunities.

3. Building a Strong Agency Reputation 

Especially when money is limited, recognition and praise go along way in attracting passionate and dedicated workers.

Developing a strong employer brand highlights the unique benefits of working in the HCBS sector AND demonstrates the agency's values that their employees make a difference.

“Employee of the Month” or “Stars of the Month” recognition programs should be celebrated internally, shared in company newsletters, and published on social media.

Highlighting the moment makes a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

With so much of the lives of direct services workers being outside the office in client homes, recognition that is published externally in local newspapers, and social media can significantly expand the impact of these programs

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