Millennials care about meaningful, rewarding work and flexibility, and home care offers both.
Home care providers must refuse 50% of care requests due to a lack of staff, but part of the solution could be to attract millennials to the private sector and home care.
“In the private service industry and the home care industry, staffing has always been a challenge, but then the pandemic threw it in there and that punctuated things exponentially,” says Kristen Wheeler, director Executive of Private Duty Home Care at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC). “The workers’ crisis is massive, and it will only get worse.”
For example, according to the NAHC:
- The care workforce needs to increase by 8.2 million jobs to meet future needs.
- Since March 2020, providers have seen a 23% decrease in the number of home health workers working for them, resulting in a 28% increase in open shifts since before COVID.
- Nearly half of all direct care workers drop out of the field each year.
NAHC is working to turn the ship with the recent creation of the Home Care Workforce Action Alliance, a combination of NAHC, the Homecare Association of America and, in the future, other stakeholders – patient representatives, direct care professionals, US and state legislators, governors and educators.
“[We] realized that there is no silver bullet to this crisis and the only way to fix it is to work together,” says Wheeler. “Everyone in the industry needs to get on board, because the crisis is only getting worse as baby boomers get older.”
A job that makes sense
Compensation is a major barrier to recruiting and retaining home health aides and direct care providers, Wheeler says.
“These are usually very low paying jobs. Minimum wage is going up, but reimbursement rates don’t come close, so why would anyone decide to be a home care aide if they can make more money working for a retailer? ” she says.
The professional perception of home health aides and direct care workers needs to change, Wheeler says. “People need to understand how essential this is in the continuum of health care,” she says.
This understanding can best come from millennials who studies show are more focused on making a difference than making money.
“Compensation, of course, remains essential. Everyone needs to make a living, everyone has bills to pay,” says Wheeler. “But when you look at millennials, they’re just as concerned about what they’re doing has to mean something; the goal rather than the paycheck,” she says.
Daniel Goleman, best-selling author Emotional intelligencewrote about a survey that found 63% of millennials said the primary goal of business should be to “better society” rather than “generate profits.”
Home care fits that bill, Wheeler says.
“Something that speaks to them is going to be a lot more appealing and I think the homecare industry is an easy sell, for lack of a better way to put it,” she says.
“This type of work is so rewarding when you realize the difference you are making in these people’s lives and that you can be part of someone who can stay home rather than go to care facilities,” says Wheeler. . “They can live at home, largely independent, and age as they wish and that’s a great position to attract that working population.”
Flexibility in the workplace is also important for millennials.
“Where home care agencies may have an advantage is another area that millennials often say they seek in their jobs, and that is flexibility. If you work in home care, you can practically dictate your schedule,” she says.
In fact, when Deloitte Global asked 14,655 millennial respondents which employee behaviors are most critical to the success of their organizations, 46% ranked flexibility and adaptability first.
Where a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or assisted living facility typically dictates schedules, home care providers can choose working or non-working days and times.
“It’s an amazing way to appeal to this millennial demographic,” says Wheeler.
Transmit the message
Private agencies need to get that message where millennials will hear and see it, Wheeler says.
“You can have the best mission statement ever, but if people don’t know about it and don’t know how to look for it, it doesn’t make a difference,” she says.
“When agencies write their job postings, job boards, or post on job boards, they have to bring home those things that really speak to millennials: flexibility or mission,” she says. “It must be said at home that home care is a hugely rewarding industry to work in and more people should consider it.”
Millennials are very tech-savvy, so job postings need to be placed where they will see them, she says.
Posting jobs on online job boards — general job boards as well as specialized ones — can reach millennials, she says.
Social media is another potential staffing opportunity, she says.
“Many vendors still don’t use social media to their advantage, and often that’s because they don’t have the administrative manpower to take care of it,” she says.
“But to be successful with this next generation of workers, they’re going to have to, because that’s where people are looking; they are going to follow social media,” she says. “And if they see jobs there, they’ll look for them there.”
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.