Following a bad experience with his own grandparents many years ago, Tom Knox set on a mission to “Change the Way America Ages.” He is now the owner of two successful home health service providers Seniorcorp and Carefamily.
Seniorcorp started as a traditional home care agency and has grown to an industry powerhouse through acquisitions and joint ventures with independent agencies. The partners benefit from Seniorcorp’s corporate support while maintaining their brand in the local market. Recently Tom Knox launched a national online caregiver recruitment and family matching service under the brand CareFamily.
Tom, a fellow Virginian, was kind enough to share aspects of his success story as it pertains to employee management.
Corporate HR = Economies of Scale
One of the main leverage for growth at Seniorcorp was the development of a corporate HR function. The shared responsibility for HR between the head office and local offices was made possible thanks to the introduction of electronic on-boarding and a solid HR Information System (HRIS). For example, the HRIS monitors caregiver attendance and performance. By flagging employees with performance and attendance problems, local offices can focus their time on managing these situations. The HRIS also flags star performers who get awarded performance bonuses. This is the “carrot” in the system. It incentivizes supervisors to enter data in the system.
Employer Mix + Culture Fit + Skills = Employee
The savings in administrative costs are applied towards the clinical staff and caregivers. Seniorcorp has developed a proprietary employer mix. This includes pay, benefits and work hours to be positioned as an employer of choice.
Key to success is to identify the caregivers who are not right for the work or do not mesh with the culture. An evaluation of performance and attendance is performed very early on. Those who don’t meet the standards are let go during the first 30 days. The result of discovering the right employer mix is significantly less employee turnover. Seniorcorp’s caregiver turnover is about half the industry average. “Having resolved the retention conundrum has made it fun again,” Tom says.
Can’t Avoid The Topic of Caregiver Recruitment
Agencies have to think of ways to differentiate themselves from the crowded marketplace in home care. Although online job posting is now standard, it is not sufficient. Agencies have to invest in community events and get involved in select groups to raise their profile as a provider of senior services and as an employer.
Success in home care comes with a sufficient flow of new caregivers. Seniorcorp has its own personal care attendant (PCA) school. Students are selected and receive a partial scholarship to attend the 40-hour program. Whereas CNA training focuses on clinical skills, the PCA school develops the companionship and social skills of new hires. The school acts as a feeder for recruitment. The subsidized training creates employee loyalty and usually yields the best caregivers for Seniorcorp.
Tom Knox recommends keeping the selection process fairly simple. However, getting two pairs of eyes on a candidate is essential to selecting the best. Having a standard set of interview questions is also important to have consistent criteria over time and across locations.
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