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Episode 29

How to recruit and retain the best caregivers – a conversation with Hireology

Erin Vallier (00:01):

Welcome to Home Health 360, a podcast presented by AlayaCare. I’m your host, Jeff Howell, and this is the show about learning from the best in home healthcare from around the globe.

Erin Vallier (00:17):

Welcome friends to another episode of Home Health 360 where we chat with leaders from around the globe on all things home health and home care. I’m your guest host, Erin Vallier, US Director of Sales for AlayaCare software. And today I am joined by one of AlayaCare’s trusted partners, Mike McSherry, the director of strategic partnerships at Hierology. Hierology Powers hiring and talent management for thousands of home care and home health professionals across North America. Mike has a decade of experience in human capital strategy, including work ranging from enterprise corporations to high growth startups. He holds a BA from Indiana University and a JD from Chicago Kent College of Law, a native Chicagoan. Mike currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife and his dog. Thank you so much for joining me today, Mike.

Mike McSherry (01:18):

Hey, Erin, Pleasures all mine and always fun to, to team up with our, our great partners over to AlayaCare, so gotta be here.

Erin Vallier (01:25):

Absolutely. And we have a very relevant topic to discuss today. Oh yeah. And I am super excited that our listeners are gonna be able to walk away with some actionable insights for how we can potentially combat this recruitment and retention problem. But before we hop into the topic, I would love if you can share with the audience how you got into this space of recruitment and retention and what makes you so excited about it. Well,

Mike McSherry (01:56):

Thanks for asking. You know, a lot of times in these presentations is just about the company. Nobody really wants to know the, the guest . So I have a bit of a unique career path, myself and background, and how has I, how I got into this position. But it, my passion for recruitment and the retention themes and just HR and generally Erin date back to my time as a labor and employment lawyer. So out of college, I went to law school and then out of law school, I practice in a big firm in Chicago for several years representing companies in all sorts of labor and employment disputes issues even litigation. And, you know, back in those days, a lot of the problems that arose for employers we represented and their staff, it really came down a problematic employees that shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.

Mike McSherry (02:46):

And that was always an area that I thought it was, it was just so vexing for HR management, you know, owners of companies because they knew that that person should have been hired. But oftentimes these businesses, and we represented a lot of smaller businesses too, they didn’t have a process in place. They couldn’t point to one place or another where they realized, Oh yeah, we, we took a misstep. It was always, yeah, we just, we wish we’d never hired them in the first place. They never were a good performer. And of course, those are the ones that always caused problems. And that ended up with them having to contact their attorneys. Conversely, there were a lot of other problems that I, I saw in those early days as an attorney where they, the problems arose from someone leaving. It was actually quite talented, and it was the employer, they just failed to do what they had it they had to do or needed to do to hang onto that talent.

Mike McSherry (03:34):

So, long story short, just kind always com, you know, been around the HR space and it started from the legal lens, but every day I was always scratching my head wondering like, how do these people get hired? How do businesses not take their recruiting and hiring process more seriously? Because it’s just one of those areas with so many pitfalls during the process. And then of course, if you screw up or shouldn’t say screw up, but if you make a mistake the cows can really come home to pasture down the line with a bad person in the wrong seat.

Erin Vallier (04:04):

Indeed. Well, it sounds like your past experience has definitely primed you for massive success in this space. You’ve brought with you a unique perspective. You’ve probably seen it all.

Mike McSherry (04:16):

That’s it. Yeah. The perspective, you know, once I got into the software side of things, I started in sales. And of course now I’ve matriculated into the partnership side. But it, it did gimme that perspective, especially being able to empathize with the folks who use Hierology product are typically HR directors or their managers. And many times and in this industry, their owners and operators of the business. And, and I feel for them knowing what it’s like to be in their seat could be pretty lonely and very stressful. So I think having that experience of what they have to deal with from a labor and employment counseling standpoint, employee relation, all that stuff when I talk about software and how it can help, it just would, it, it makes the conversation that much more impactful and relatable.

Erin Vallier (05:00):

Indeed, being empathetic is super powerful when you’re trying to relate to people and especially the home, home care and home health industry right now because the demands on the home care industry have not subsided, not even a little bit since everything peaked during covid. In fact, I think more and more people are wanting care in the home, and that’s a trend that’s gonna continue. I’m curious if you have seen any trends emerge with home care agencies in their hiring practices so that they can maintain their current senses and service levels and potentially grow because everybody wants to grow, right?

Mike McSherry (05:43):

Yeah, we, we, we 100% have Aaron. I think to your point about coming out of Covid more families and, you know, individuals in America when it comes to care realized I don’t have to go to a facility. I can actually get a lot, lot of this for myself or for a loved one administered at the home. So as we saw that demand increase, and obviously you have the, you know, growing baby boomer population that’s needing these types of services with the demand increasing meant, okay, we need to hire more people. So one of the trends we’ve seen escalate in the last year and a half is really speed we call it in ology hiring velocity. It’s really that time it takes Aaron from somewhat applying for a job to the moment they’ve accepted it and been hired. That has been compressed dramatically. And it’s not just in the home care space, it’s really any industry in America coming out of the pandemic.

Mike McSherry (06:34):

Everybody was ramped in rear to go with hiring and rehiring staff. So it created this dilemma where there were more open jobs in the country than there was talent available. And because of that shortage, you have to be fast. So we saw the average time to hire across a number of industries in home care, especially cut in half from roughly, it used to take maybe several weeks to hire and place a caregiver. Now we’re seeing on average at 14 days or less. So that’s one really big trend that’s continued to accelerate. And we don’t anticipate the hiring speed is, is gonna slow down anytime soon. And I’d say the other trend is that agencies are starting to realize that it’s not all about quality when it comes to applicants. Caregiver. Applicants used to be a dime a dozen, not so anymore for the same issues and underlying problems that I just mentioned.

Mike McSherry (07:27):

So what we’re finding is, is fascinating is they’re, they’re looking inward and looking at employee referrals. So really harnessing the power of your current staff as your greatest recruiters. The data’s pretty clear and I’m sure you’ve, you know, just seen this in your own career era and that many caregivers that, guess what, they also have many other caregivers that are family and friends. It’s just one of those jobs. You tend to have birds of a feather clock together type of thing. But where employers drop the ball is having a program or technology in place that really unlocks the potential of employee referrals. So as the applicant well dried up we saw a lot of agencies, customers of ours and not customers start to realize, I need to figure out a way to get more outta my current staff that are happy here. And how do I get them to get their friends and family to apply.

Erin Vallier (08:18):

Gotcha. So what I’m hearing you say, you gotta be fast,

Mike McSherry (08:22):

Gotta be fast,

Erin Vallier (08:23):

And you’ve gotta be a great place to work so that your current employees will tell all of their friends and family

Mike McSherry (08:28):

You got it right. Yep. Those are okay. Two, you know, they’re not bulletproof, but if there’s two things you can focus on that, that are gonna help you, I would start there.

Erin Vallier (08:38):

You shared with me a pretty comprehensive applicant study that Hierology just did. So thank you. And I wanna recommend all of the listeners to go and download the study because it had some really fascinating insights. And I think about 20% of the respondents were from the healthcare industry, but it was pretty broad, right? About 6,300 or so people that you surveyed. But it was pretty clear that even those healthcare workers whose positions are primarily known to be in person, cuz if somebody needs insulin or a medication at a time, you gotta be there at that time. You gotta be in person. There’s little flexibility, you gotta be punctual. But even those people are looking for way more flexibility in their work. I think 44% said that greater flexibility would actually keep them in their current role over a higher paying job. And 48% said that they would take a pay cut for the flexibility that they want. So what do you about flexibility for roles like caregiving that can’t happen remotely today?

Mike McSherry (09:50):

First thank you for reading the study and the, the plug there for those listening, it’s called the Great Reassessment. You can easily get a copy of that on Hierology website And I hope it was a good sleeping aid for you, Erin. Cause it, it does go pretty in depth. So unless you’re an HR nerd like me or me or you too. Yeah, obviously

Erin Vallier (10:11):

I hire people .

Mike McSherry (10:13):

Yeah, it is a total catch. I don’t wanna say catch 22, but it is one of these challenges. It’s, it’s more difficult for agencies than it might be for another business to offer flexibility because coming outta pandemic right now who doesn’t know somebody that now can work from their bed forever if they so choose look, it boils where remote works not possible and agencies are not the only businesses where that’s not in the cards. Ology works with a lot of retail organizations who also have hourly workforce people, brick and mortar. They need the butts and seats, right? It’s face to face interaction job. It boils down a scheduling flexibility. And that is another trend we’ve seen really in really this year is agencies come around to being as transparent as possible about hey, here are the shifts that we have available. And I think the next step from there is what can we do to accommodate your needs.

Mike McSherry (11:08):

Now that could be with current staff or prospective applicant because that could make or break if they choose you or another agency or some other employer. So I think the first thing you can do is just ask the questionnaire like, Look, how can I meet you where you are? And in transparency, we don’t have all the flexibility in the world, but we’re gonna do our best to meet your your needs and you get gotta gotta play the hand you’re dealt. A lot of younger job seekers today really do appreciate that transparency. And so they may decide to work with you even though you can’t offer the same level of flexibility. Maybe you were just, they really admired and respected the fact that you were open and honest, which they don’t, you’re not gonna get that necessarily from Starbucks or Target or some other big corporation who can make some flexibility. But you know what I mean? Like these are small businesses that can I think have a frank one to one conversation, just be people and that’s refreshing in many cases. So

Erin Vallier (12:09):

Yeah, a little bit more personal touch. Yeah, so maybe things like schedule flexibility. If I have an appointment during the day, I’m not penalized for needing to take it off, pick up a sick kid. Is that kinda what you’re talking

Mike McSherry (12:22):

About? Exactly. Flexibility, work life balance, you know, those kind of buzz words. It doesn’t just mean oh you have to give them Saturdays off or they can’t work Monday morning. Like it’s not about that. It’s just simply meeting these employees where they are or at least putting up making an effort. No different than our customers. You know, like I’m sure agencies even historically have had to bend over backwards to meet their customers where they are like, Oh you’re you, you moved and now you’re this far away. Like, okay, like, we’ll, we’ll do our best to get somebody out there in the same time, same, same days. Like in how we we go to market with that message of we’re here to meet your loved ones or your needs. Like, I think you just gotta port over that same methodology even though it sounds crazy of how we make accommodations and service our customers because job seekers today and employees have all the leverage. Gotta at least try to make that same effort with them.

Erin Vallier (13:18):

Yeah. Kind of treat them like consumers as well cuz you’re trying to sell them the job.

Mike McSherry (13:22):


Erin Vallier (13:22):

This sounds like it could get a little bit complicated keeping track of all the details. Is there anything slightly that technology can do to support the level of flexibility that the new generation of workers is looking for?

Mike McSherry (13:34):

Yeah, I’m glad you asked because is agency owners, operators, their head is in a million different places all all the time, right? And, and this is one of those parts of the business that can get deprioritized because there’s just frankly other more pressing things they have to look to. So I think one, it it starts with your employment brand and having the right HR technology partners that ensure you’re setting the right expectations during the candidate experience. Oftentimes we get feedback from applicants that there was a asymmetrical, you know, experience where they were told one thing during interviews, but the reality was another. So the transparency has to start from the beginning. Like what do you say in your career site if you have one, I hope you do. What do you say in your career site about the flexibility of work life balance that, that you offer here at x, y, Z agency?

Mike McSherry (14:28):

How do you communicate that in a job description and then in the interview process? Because as much as you’re interviewing them today, more than ever, that person’s interviewing you all, you know? So having a partner that can help you with maybe creating some of that, those types of assets is, is key. And I think it’s can experience is so clutch and so critical today because if they’re judging you on hey and flexibility, they’re also judging you on how seamless was the interview process? Was it frictionless? Like ordering something on Amazon? That’s where we’re at today. You know, can you, I’m sure the biggest agencies in America have seamless processes, do you? And so for that it’s, you know, does everything flow smoothly from the initial scheduling of the interview through getting my, getting hired, getting onboarded my first shift? So we recommend it looking at whatever HR tools you have, do the integrate into scheduling platforms like iCare, you know, similar to Hierology’s partnership and integration with AlayaCare. It just really makes sure that ideal flow that’s gonna impress your new hire. So they know that this company has its act together and it’s leaving less, less I guess room for that new person to be skeptical if this was the right place for them to work.

Erin Vallier (15:43):

Gotcha. That makes sense. So you need a nice platform that reduces the friction of the entire process from creating, posting, delivering that content, keeping all the details housed in one place, and then seamlessly getting them into your scheduling software so that they can have their first shift,

Mike McSherry (16:03):

Right? And we’re always talking about outcomes with our customers and the patients like our, what is the promise we made to them and our advertising and then through whatever consultations we had with the family and the, the patient themselves all the way through and here’s what we delivered. And you know, that all is hugely impact. One, the outcomes across, you know, every health healthcare business, right? With reimbursements. And it’s the same concept here, like where you honest upfront did you com put it down, put pen to paper in a compelling way cuz it’s gonna stick with applicants, especially the good ones. They’re the ones that really care and they’re gonna read the details.

Erin Vallier (16:41):

Home healthcare news and all. Alayacare teamed up in July of this year to do a survey and a webinar about retention and recruitment of home care professionals. 47% of respondent cited pay and benefits as the number one reason for employee term. Sava Beney, our SVP of customer success, highlighted in her presentation that caregivers are getting paid the same as what they would make in just any regular department store like Walmart. The context here, and her point was caregiving work is so much more demanding and so much more complicated than what you would do at Walmart. So there’s no wonder why they want more money for their time, their time is valuable. But from the study, from your study, I learned that 44% of applicants prioritize salary when they’re doing their searches. But I imagine that paying more is not an option for many of these agencies who are experiencing much lower reimbursement rates these day. Let’s not even talk about 2023 anyway. Do you have any thoughts on how we can overcome this math problem?

Mike McSherry (17:58):

Oh boy. This is the, this is the money question right here. Look, the, we absolutely appreciate that the economics oftentimes just don’t pencil for agencies to offer higher rate than they already are offering. So in those instances, Erin, what we advise our customers to focus on is a concept. You hear this not just at Hierology, but across the, the human capital landscape, it’s called emotional salary. So those are non monetary it’s non monetary enrichment and, and that can shake out to a few things. One do you offer that better life work balance and flexibility we touched on a few minutes ago what type of agency culture or mission are you advocating? You know, that’s become a very, very top focus for Gen Z and millennial job seekers is they wanna work at a, a place that actually the mission and the values resonate and connect with theirs.

Mike McSherry (18:59):

Very important, unlike any other previous generation. And then the last thing is a career path. And I think a career path oftentimes can be more compelling. And then compensation. Here’s why. If you can successfully paint the picture for this person where they’ll be six months from now, 12 months from now, maybe two years from now, and how you’re gonna coach them to get them there, both in terms of comp and career development that might resonate, not might, it probably will resonate with the right person. Not everybody, but the individual who doesn’t wanna hire a caregiver that could actually be with you for a long time and elevate themselves into management and operations role. Something in the back office perhaps. So if you message that properly and you land the right person, you know, that’s somebody who may let’s say they may take the job making $13 an hour right now with the promise and a commitment that in two years time or however long it’s gonna take, you’ll be making $25 an hour doing this for our business compared to, yeah, go ahead, take that job at Chick-fil-A that’s offering you 1750 tomorrow, what kind of growth do you have there you go from chicken nugget cook to cashier making 25 cents more an hour maybe.

Mike McSherry (20:17):

So I think that the devil’s in the details always, and it’s for us, the emotional salary, What are you offering non monetary and being really crystal clear about it, especially with the career growth, can make all the difference when you can’t offer more money at the time of hire.

Erin Vallier (20:34):

I also read in Hierology study that the average applicant applies to at least 16 companies these days, at least 50% or more of applicants apply to that many companies. So that means any employer out there is competing with 15 others to find that one good caregiver beyond what we’ve already explored. How else can you compete with these other agencies for great talent when you can’t necessarily hike their pay?

Mike McSherry (21:04):

So this is gonna sound contradictory to the data that you just highlighted, but in a separate Hierology survey we conducted on one question in particular was what is the top reason that influenced? So it wasn’t so much about what are you searching for, it’s, which that that’s what you just referenced, Erin. This other survey was about what influenced and ultimately like made you decide to go to one employer as opposed to the other if you had multiple offers. And the top reason was a superior candidate experience, in other words. So 67 over the respondents in this one survey said they ultimately decided to go to the company that offered the best hiring and interview process. The, the one that offered the best pay benefits, et cetera. That those were reasons three and four. I think reason number two actually in that survey might have been career path.

Mike McSherry (21:58):

Yes, you’re always gonna have a lot of people that they don’t care, it’s just about the money, fine, maybe we don’t want them. Maybe those kind of individuals that are just looking for the highest pay don’t fit with our values here at, at XYZ agency. So I think if you can deliver an exceptional candidate experience that rivals the consumer experience that you offer, that is gonna put you in a more competitive position. Because can candidates wanna move quickly? They wanna be dazzled you know, can I do everything? And from applying to interviewing on my phone, all that stuff matters today. And in many agencies don’t really, it’s not that they don’t get it, but I don’t think they, they hear enough about it that it actually does matter and it might make somebody’s mind up to work for you because you are more easy to work with in the hiring process and you looked more professional than the agency that’s offering two bucks more an hour. But they took forever to respond and they seemed a little disorganized and so on.

Erin Vallier (22:58):

You know, we’ve already touched on that. A word of mouth referral from an employee is way more valuable and effective than say, going to indeed, I’m gonna trust my friend over something that I see on the web, right? And it’s, it’s personal, but if these programs are not well designed and they’re not well published and they’re hard to, to get paid for those referrals, I’m imagining that not a whole lot of employees are gonna take advantage of ’em or even think about it. Have you seen any really creative ways to implement these programs to increase adoption?

Mike McSherry (23:33):

Yeah, I think what we’re seeing with our own customers using Hierology referrals is they’re doing stuff like so our, our program is run all through a QR code. So they’re putting a QR code on in the break rooms if it, you know, there’s a one a home office, they’re texting it out to all the caregivers, they’re emailing these QR codes out to caregivers. So all you have to do is pull out your phone and then simply, yeah, it initiates a chat bot. It’s really slick. Then you type in the, the email or cell phone number of your friend or your family member and they get a text message and that initiates a sequence for them to submit their information. Nobody needs to email anyone. There’s no fa no faxing, no no getting on the phone. So I think that just speaks volumes like having technology that makes it simple and fun to engage our employees.

Mike McSherry (24:25):

And the engagement is off the chart because not only do they, everybody likes chat bot. I mean we just, we use them all the time in our daily lives these days. But they, of course they have friends that they want to refer. We see at , according to our data, 10% of employee referrals are hired compared to 2% 10% of applicants that are referrals are hired. So, you know, I, if I give you a hundred referrals, 10 of them will be hired. Same number of applicants that came from indeed only two are hired. So huge difference in terms of the quality of individual from a referrals. So that’s important for the employer. And then we’re seeing more of them leverage technology that helps them run engagement campaigns, not just with past referrals, but past applicants. So somebody that applied a year ago for a caregiver position or maybe an office job didn’t get it, or they took another role.

Mike McSherry (25:18):

We’re seeing our customers leverage like text messaging or email campaigns back to those same people basically re-engaging with them, Hey, we have another opening. We know that you applied in the last year and timing maybe didn’t work out or whatever. We’d love to to open the conversation back up. That’s, that’s crazy effective tactic that more agencies are finding success with because some people that they realized though, the grass wasn’t greener at that place that I left for, or I took the other offer. And yeah, you, you know, you you have to ask Just simple as that.

Erin Vallier (25:52):

That’s brilliant. Especially those that you are regrettable turn right? Didn’t really want ’em to leave, just tap ’em on the shoulder. Oh, I love it. Yeah, I think I read that for everyone. Applicant right now there’s at least two jobs, so, and I feel that we’re still struggling with trying to find that pipeline. So diversifying where you’re finding all of your applicants is probably important. So you’re gonna have to use some of those indeeds or my cna, right? So my question for you, if I’m an employer, I know that I’m competing with 15 other employers or more just to get that one great caregiver. So I feel like it’s really important to get that job advertisement right. Is there anything special that I can do with a job description if I’m gonna use those online platforms to make them stand out and, and highlight some of those things we’ve been talking about, the emotional part of it and the career path?

Mike McSherry (26:53):

Sure can. And we say every job description needs to over index in, in other words, focus on the qualities you’re looking for in this individual, not the experience. Way too many job descriptions you see on the job boards. It just goes right into this position does X, Y, Z, and this is how much you’re gonna work. Like, and it reports to so and so. Okay, all right, now you’ve lost me. And just the whole mix of thousands and thousands of other postings. So if you focus on the qualities of an individual you’re looking for, odds are it’s gonna cast a wider net. Caregiver experience is great, but it shouldn’t be absolutely mission critical. You should be asking, you know, are you empathetic, compassionate, you know, service oriented things like adjectives like that that you wanna see in this person. That’s what somebody’s looking for in a job description out the gate.

Mike McSherry (27:44):

Also, if you can back that right up with the why work here, Some of the best job descriptions we’ve seen in the market, they talk about the job duties and responsibilities or experience required last, almost like it’s an afterthought. Because this is an advertisement, you know, no ads lead with the most boring part. Like, you know, Coke doesn’t run a TV ad leading with, are you looking for a sugar filled caffeinated beverage? No. They’re like, you know, it’s all the fluff of here’s how great you’re gonna feel and you’re gonna look when you drink a Coke. Job description has to be the same way. So this would be like, gotta be an ad. This is how awesome it’s to work here. And we, you know, we’re looking for people like you. Like, does it, do you fit the bill? Are you caring and empathetic and a curious person, whatever. Like, oh, by the way we offer caregiving services to, you know, elderly senior citizens. Like that’s legitimately how these job descriptions should read if you wanna stand out

Erin Vallier (28:44):

Mm-Hmm. . So the emotional component, just like an advertisement. Correct. That makes sense. Yeah, because well, we don’t buy anything unless we’re emotional about it. Like it’s the feeling that we buy. Exactly. So it makes sense that we wouldn’t buy into a job or an employer if we didn’t feel good about being there.

Mike McSherry (29:01):

Yeah. And caregiver agencies have a real, I think, advantage here in a, a strong car to play because it does happen to someone’s, you know, emotional their, just their level of empathy, right? And connectedness. And if you’re someone who has a lot of empathy and a desire to serve others, this could be a great opportunity for you. You just have to couch it in those terms and maybe take away, not take away some of the aspects of the job that aren’t as glamorous, but really just hammer on those points of, hey, this job may, you know, even though we know it’s not gonna pay as much, if this is what you get gradi, you know, what you get gratification out of in life, this might be for you. Helping somebody make their day by simply folding their clothes, you know, help someone who can’t help themselves. Like that kind of stuff resonates again, with the right, the right audience.

Erin Vallier (29:50):

So you’re gonna start helping, right. Job prescriptions then, aren’t you? As you did, you did a wonderful job just there.

Mike McSherry (29:58):

Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe create a side hustle. Well, in all candor, that’s something that ology does for our

Erin Vallier (30:03):

Customers. Okay.

Mike McSherry (30:04):

You know, not only will our product help post the job descriptions, but it’s something that’s always been our wheelhouse with helping customers understand like, what are the best practices there? Because I’m glad you asked the question. A job description sometimes people think is just like, eh, I just need to get this posted. But it, it’s really important to spend time and you know, then, then you can follow a formula so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every single time, but you find one that you like and you start to see works, you can duplicate that across other openings.

Erin Vallier (30:33):

Right. That’s brilliant. I wanna take it in a different direction. Cuz I’ve, I’ve read and I’ve talked to a lot of agencies who are complaining and maybe it’s because their job descriptions aren’t what they should be , but it might

Mike McSherry (30:50):

Be, might be it’s time to do some introspection on those job descriptions.

Erin Vallier (30:54):

Could be. But the complaint these days is they’re being ghosted, they’re being ghost in the application process or the onboarding process. Maybe because it’s taking too long from that point of application to point of hire some reason. But what can agencies do to still go through the proper screening but not drag that out so that people will become disinterested or they get scooped up by another employer?

Mike McSherry (31:22):

It, it’s a tough you gotta tow the line, right? Especially with hiring these kinds of positions. You can’t just put anybody on payroll. So you gotta find that balance, strike that balance of, of quality you know, not, not sacrifice quality for speed. Cuz it’s easy to do that. You can hire someone real quickly, but they may not be the best. One of the, the key features we’re seeing our customers use and other agencies just across the industry adopt is texting. So to move the process along, instead of emailing and calling and leaving a voicemail, we’ve found that just communicating everything through text schedule, the next interview, Hey, can you take this assessment? Or Hey, we need this document, like your driver’s license, whatever it is, just text it to us. That can increase your speed to higher by two days or more because everybody likes texting today. I I think the typical Gen Z that’s like 22 years old, if somebody calls them, they like freak out. So

Erin Vallier (32:23):

Remember it’s food, right? Why do

Mike McSherry (32:24):

You call, You’re an agency. Yeah. I joke around when I’m on the traveling, give presentations, like if you’re an agency owner, operator manager with kids that are teenagers or you know, in their twenties, just think about how often they call you. They’re like, Mom, just text me. You have to do that if you wanna get quick responses. And then with ghosting look that it just really sucks. Part of my French, but it does and we have no silver bullet to curb that. But what we’ve found helps mitigate it a little bit is through texting. So if you have an interview tomorrow, if you email that person confirming interview, you send an email reminder, it just goes right to the, maybe the spam email folder. But if you text them they at least may be upfront with you like, Hey, I found another offer more interested in thanks, bye. So then it gives you a shot of not wasting, you know, 30 minutes waiting for somebody to come on or come in for an interview.

Erin Vallier (33:22):

That’s really good advice. I think there’s also a sort of a cohort of caregivers that don’t even have email addresses. I know that’s sometimes a, a challenge for employers. So definitely like the idea of starting to use text way more in that process. You know, we’ve talked about recruitment a lot, but I’d like to ask you at least one question about retention caregiving. Nobody is gonna deny that it’s a really hard job. It’s you’re taking care of people, you’re taking care of their space. They’re not always appreciative. Sometimes they’re combative and caregivers do get burnout. So do you have any tips, tricks, ideas for employers to help prevent that burnout?

Mike McSherry (34:11):

I do have a few. Okay. It’s unavoidable, especially with what we’re faced today with most agencies are understaffed, more demand than ever. Like we hear about agencies turning business away in some cases and that’s tough, you know, and we wanna, we wanna do everything we can to help them make business, right? Be a better business, operate more profitably. So a few tips. One, you know, this is, this is not like me speaking as a hire representative and talk about technology. It’s be aware that is first and foremost. Like, make sure your people know that you hear them, you see them you know, I think a lot of times it’s just you have to read the tea leaves cuz they may not feel comfortable telling you how they feel. Some, some employees do, but I think we all know that a lot of our employees keep things to themselves.

Mike McSherry (35:01):

So make sure they know that you empathize and understand that they’re, they’re feeling like that level of burnout. The next step is you’ve got like, kinda like how we talked about the beginning of the podcast. You gotta make accommodations or at least like create the perception that you’re, you’re making that effort. So what are you doing to implement real solutions? Or at least like you’re, you’re trying to figure out what a solution might be. So one example we do this here at ology, no questions asked Mental health days, it’s not pto. Well, I mean it technically can be considered PTO talk to talk to your your lawyer. But a mental health day is simply someone just needs a break and I’m not gonna ask questions. Oh, where are you going? Is this vacation? Are you sick? Like, you know what, you need a day and we can get the coverage or like someone who can step up.

Mike McSherry (35:53):

You got it. Access to counseling that, you know, providing these other perks that maybe you’ve thought about in the past but didn’t feel like were really necessary. Cuz you have, you have your health insurance, you have your medical and dental and a 401k. What else could they need? Well again, job seeks expectations have evolved and many of them would rather have maybe access to go see a therapist or some other type of like health and wellbeing perk. There’s a variety of providers out there that you can easily Google and see what kind you know, solutions they have. Employee recognition can a little bit, you know, who doesn’t Well, feeling valued always. I talk about even with my own team, there’s a difference between when you feel pressure versus stressed. I think people feel pressure to perform in, in a job when they do feel valued and they value the work.

Mike McSherry (36:48):

You feel stressed and you start to feel burnt out when those other things aren’t true, you know? So the more that you can recognize folks that are doing good work on staff and, and speak up, even if you feel like it’s totally, you know, like it’s fluff and it, it’s something really silly, just say it. And there’s tons of great examples of agencies out there doing stuff today. Daily huddles, email, shoutouts, I mean, shoot, there’s even new technologies that have come out in the last couple years that are purely designed for employee recognition in in rewards. So I would encourage agencies to look at, look there and piece is you know, for the of the day, doing your absolute best to improve and strengthen your hiring and recruiting process. Having a full staff is arguably the only tried and true way to avoid burnout.

Mike McSherry (37:43):

People are gonna get burnt out if they’re working longer hours. They don’t have as much control over their scheduling if there’s, you know, fewer people. So just doing your due diligence to make sure you have open roles filled. And I don’t know why, but still to this day, Erin, we have agencies tell us that, Well, I don’t need to hire anybody right now. I’m good so I’m gonna cancel my subscription or I’m, I’m not gonna post anything to indeed. That’s not the right approach. You gotta always be recruiting, always have a bench utilize, re-engaging past applicants, even if you’re full for talent. Like, it’s just always so important that you’re keeping that bench fresh because you never know when you’re gonna, you’re gonna drop somebody. And you know, thinking about it, that it’s not just about building your bench, but you’re doing something that’s gonna help potentially alleviate burnout. That might make a difference in someone’s eyes. I think

Erin Vallier (38:34):

That’s a really important point. If you don’t have enough staff, they are gonna get burned out and then you can’t have that flexibility that we’ve talked about that’s so important because you can’t afford to let them take that mental health day. So really great points that you just made there for sure. So I know we are approaching the end of our time, but before we wrap it up, do you have any final comments on industry challenges around recruitment and retention that we haven’t talked about yet?

Mike McSherry (39:05):

We covered a lot of ground today.

Erin Vallier (39:08):


Mike McSherry (39:08):

Good. I would say the, you know, the last thing to note is for any employer out there just embrace the fact that times have changed, expectations have changed. You know, the more we just kinda like dig in and say, Well this isn’t how it was when I applied. Right? And it wasn’t this way several years ago. You’re just gonna keep putting yourself further and further at disadvantage. So the more employers step up to the plate and realize what today’s get in tune with today’s job seeker and the things we talked about, Aaron, that’s what’s gonna help propel them forward and staying competitive and sure it’s a bitter pill to swallow at first to roll out the red carpet for these caregivers. You know, it, it’s 15 years ago, the caregiver industry was radically different in terms of what our customers expected from us.

Mike McSherry (39:56):

And I think, you know, everybody just took it on the chin back then and now, you know, business has been much better and it’s bigger than ever before. So I think we have to, you know, learn those lessons from the past and how we’ve had evolve and change as an industry import that over to how we now treat and interact with our applicants. If we, again, if you, you can do nothing certainly, but I wouldn’t expect anybody to be successful long term by just continuing to dig in and do what you’ve been doing. It’s just not, it’s, it’s not only gonna get work, but you’re just gonna get lapped by the competition both from within your industry and outside. So the sooner you can just embrace it and change is hard but you’ll be better off in the long run.

Erin Vallier (40:37):

Yeah. People don’t like the change or people like the change, they just don’t like the transition. So good, good words of advice. Just hang in there and do it anyway. Do that thing,

Mike McSherry (40:48):

That’s, Yeah. And take it one step at a time, right? How do you, how do you, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. One bite.

Erin Vallier (40:53):


Mike McSherry (40:53):

Coming out of today, if you’re like, Wow, this is great content, this is overwhelming. Like I have a, hey, start with one thing. Maybe it’s just evaluating your job descriptions and how do those read and try to punch ’em up and fall in line with some of the best practices we shared. Or it’s looking at your career site or evaluating the flexibility you can offer. Don’t try to fix everything at once, I think is also really, really important here.

Erin Vallier (41:16):

Absolutely. Absolutely. So to wrap us up today, I don’t want to fail to mention that ology is offering our listeners 15% off of the essentials and the pro packages. I’m curious, do you have any additional details you want to share about what’s included in these packages?

Mike McSherry (41:36):

Yeah thanks for asking. So those are our two most popular packages with our Home care customer base. It’ll get you a lot of things we cover today on the essentials piece, which is developing an employment brand, Erin, having that career site and the, the job distribution to a bunch of different job boards, not just one plus the tools to move the process along quickly and stay organized, et cetera. And then the, the other package pro will include a lot of these employee referral program technologies and re-engagement of past applicants that we discussed. So both two really impactful solutions we’re really pleased to offer it at that 15% discount. For anybody interested you can reach out to me personally, I’ll make sure you get in touch with the right rep. My email is Of course, feel free to connect through our friends at AlayaCare and they’ll put you in touch with us.

Mike McSherry (42:27):

The only other thing I’d plug here is that Hierology has its annual user conference coming up next month in October. Yeah, for anyone interested, there’s it’s in person in Chicago. There also will be a virtual attendance option. So it’s called Elevate. This is the fifth year running now. We’ve done it. Check out more details at I mean, if you, if you found today’s conversation useful, this will be almost an entire day of conversations just like it from folks in your industry and also other industries on what they’re doing to combat the current labor market challenges. So I hope you can make it to that,

Erin Vallier (43:05):

That’s exciting. So if you are interested in what you heard today or if you have this deer in the headlights look because you don’t know where to start, , we have a solution for you with our wonderful partners at ology. Thank you so much, Mike, for spending some time with us today and sharing your wisdom. And I’m just excited that there’s so many actual insights that people can come away with today. And yeah, just thank you so much for your time.

Mike McSherry (43:35):

You better earn, Let’s do it again sometime soon.

Erin Vallier (43:37):


Erin Vallier (43:40):

Home Health 360 is presented by AlayaCare. First off, I wanna thank our amazing guests and listeners. To get more episodes, you can go to Health 360, that’s spelled Home Health 360, or Search Home Health 360 on any of your favorite podcasting platforms. The easiest way to stay up to date on our new shows is to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. We also have a newsletter you can sign up for on forward slash Home Health 360 to get alerts for new shows and more valuable content from AlayaCare right into your inbox. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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Episode Description

Recruiting the best caregivers can be a challenge when the demand for care workers is so high in the home care industry. According to our 2022 report with HHCN on recruitment and retention, 61% of participants reported that their agency increased recruiting efforts. In this episode, we sit down with Mike McSherry, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Hierology to chat about how home care agencies can improve their hiring and retaining processes to alleviate or better prepare caregiver churn.

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