Having trouble finding staff?

Business is booming for care managers across the country. But I’m hearing that it’s challenging to find qualified candidates. Shortages in traditional medical venues are creating competition between employers of nurses and social workers. But there are ways to compete even if you can’t offer higher pay or generous benefits packages.

Consider these qualities that are highly valued by employees

  • What is the culture of your company? Your team spirit? What does it feel like to be part of the staff?
  • Is there room for growth? (If not upwards, then by diversifying tasks.) Do you value and support professional development?
  • Do you offer flexibility? (Not that you turn into a pretzel! But what can you offer that allows maximum autonomy and the ability to express individuality?)
  • Does the job create meaningful change? With care management, absolutely!

“What is your employer brand?”
These qualities are all about what you might describe as your “employer brand.” You are used to having a “brand” (company personality) as you compete for clients. Now employers are needing to develop a “brand” as they compete for staff. (“Employer brand” is related to the concept of “company culture” but is specifically focused on staff recruitment.)

People
The “people” side of the equation is about teamwork and team spirit. With care management, you have to make extra efforts to build a sense of connection because each employee really does work quite a bit on their own. (For ease of language, I’m going to use the term “employee.” These ideas will still apply even if your business model involves only independent contractors.)

In fact, with the COVID-related move to remote working, you may have become a “virtual company” with no central brick and mortar office. While convenient and cost effective, it does mean you have to make conscious efforts to be sure your staff feels connected. And especially in the beginning, you want to have a very intentional onboarding process so your new hires do not feel dropped into the deep end. If you are a member of the Aging Life Care Association, email their executive director, Julie Wagner, and inquire about their soon-to-be-released onboarding module. That will liberate some of your training time so you can concentrate more on interpersonal relations. Consider asking a senior member of your team to act as a buddy. Or else make it a point to have coffee with your new hire every week so they can comfortably share concerns. At the least, you’ll learn the names of their children or pets (surprisingly important!).

  • What do you do to create a sense of “team”? Post on social media about team activities? Regularly compliment your team in speech, print, and video? Consider asking your staff to write a sentence or two about what they like best about working at your company. Or ask them to make a short selfie video from their phone. Include these on the “Careers” page or on the “About Us” page of your website. (Don’t pressure staff to do this. Just a simple one-time request.) In addition to helping you hire new people, it will give you a sense of what you might want to do more of to keep the staff you have!
  • What do you do to make each member feel valued? Is there a photo and bio for each of your care managers on the About Us page? Do you post individual acknowledgments during National Social Work Month (March)? National Nurses Month (May)? Do you publicly celebrate milestones, such as job anniversaries? Do you highlight an employee of the month or employee of the year?

Path
Employees like to know that you respect the professionalism that they bring to your company, but also that you support them to improve themselves.

How do you support the professional development of your team? Do they get a small stipend for attending conferences or toward CEUs?

Do you keep them apprised of local or online learning opportunities (e.g., you pay for an ALCA webinar they all can listen to)?

Do you post congratulations on social media when they earn a certificate or get published in a journal? Do you make it a point to distinguish your company as current on best practices in eldercare?

  • How can they grow at your company? As a small business, there may not be much vertical room to go “up the ladder” into management. But what about lateral movement? Do you have programs that might benefit from their skills and aptitude?
    • Could an administrative assistant eventually train to be a personal assistant for clients?
    • Or maybe you are thinking about adding an enrichment service, such as Thoughtful Engagement. With this program, members of your staff get trained to create tailored activities for isolated or cognitively impaired individuals. You provide relief for family caregivers and improved quality of life for clients while also generating a new revenue stream. Participating staff get to learn new skills and facilitate the process of reigniting joy.

Pretzel
 Job flexibility. Who doesn’t like that!

Remember, many of the people out on the market now are leaving the confines of traditional jobs in larger institutions.

Don’t be afraid to flaunt what you can legitimately offer. A part-time schedule or a work schedule they can craft around their other obligations is golden to employees, especially those with kids.

The ability to do some of their work remotely is also a plus (for you too)!

Do they have to wear a uniform or suit? The ability to dress “business casual” is highly valued if that’s something you can offer.

Purpose
You have the advantage with eldercare in that every night each member of your team probably can go to bed recognizing at least one thing they did that day to actively help a client improve their quality of life.

While that may also be true in the abstract at a hospital or long-term care facility, it’s not nearly as direct and immediate as in care management.

Working in the private sector allows for much more flexibility and a creative joining of insight, skill, and knowledge. Make sure that is evident on your website and social media presence. Tell stories. Share successes at staff meetings. Revel publicly in the joy of making a difference.

One last tip: Check out the ads and social media of other employers
In a tight labor market, other employers are your “competitors.” Not just other care management companies, but also hospitals, SNFs, home health, etc. It can be illuminating to see how others post their openings for nurses or social workers. Inject zip and zing into your ad. You may notice that other ads focus on all the “must haves” (driver’s license, background checks, etc.). Demonstrate your company culture from within the ad by leading with the 4 Ps described above (People, Path, Pretzel, Purpose).

In our next post we’ll talk about ways to publicly express your company culture in a manner that attracts clients, referrers, and job seekers!