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Staff members choose to stay to preserve seniority
With layoffs occurring, retention is no problem
Job cuts, company closures, and salary reductions are in all of the headlines today, but an uncertain job market can be a good thing for home health agencies.
"It is easier to retain staff at this time," says Vicki Karlovich, LPN, CEO of Sacred Rose Healthcare, a Springfield, MO-based home care provider. As other health-related organizations in her community, including hospitals, announce layoffs, her staff members are not tempted to move to any other agencies, she says. "This is very different from recent years when agency managers felt like they were held hostage by nurses who could jump from agency to agency for an increase in pay," she says. "Today, nurses want to keep their jobs, because they want to maintain their seniority," she explains.
"I am also seeing an increase in the number of applications from nurses in other organizations who want to move to home health," says Karlovich. Although many have years of nursing experience, not all of them are technologically savvy and may need a lot of training to handle home health, she says.
"This is a good time to hire caregivers," says Dave Banark, vice president of business performance for Omaha, NE-based Home Instead Senior Care. "Our turnover is lower than in previous quarters and trending downward," he says. Even without placing advertisements, quality applicants are continuously contacting the agency offices, he says.
Bonnie Dixon, RN, BSN, director of Dunn Memorial Hospital Home Health in Bedford, IN, says that her staff members are very aware of the tenuous job market. "We are in a strange situation in which our hospital was talking about a merger with another hospital that already had a home health agency, then has moved in discussing a lease situation with another organization," she says. Throughout these talks, her staff members have not known whether or not they will have a home health agency or jobs when decisions are made.
"In a staff meeting at which I was discussing expectations, I asked what they expected of me," says Dixon. "One nurse said that she expected me to keep the home health agency afloat so that she would keep her job!"
Dixon has been very up-front with staff members about the home health agency's situation, the hospital discussions, and the potential for job cuts. "I've only had one employee leave because she could not risk losing her salary and benefits," she says. "My other employees are long-time employees, many in their 50s, who have said they are too old to look for something else when there is a chance that nothing will happen to their jobs here," she says.
"At the same time that my staff wonders about losing their jobs, the agency's referrals are increasing, and I need an extra therapist and nurse," she says. The need for an extra therapist has made it necessary for her staff to turn down referrals that require physical therapy, she adds. "I've now been given approval to hire a PRN therapist and nurse," she says. Until the hospital has completed discussions with other organizations, no one is allowed to add any full-time equivalents, but PRN positions are allowed, she explains. "The most likely candidate for these positions will be someone who is retired or semi-retired who has watched their retirement funds decrease or someone whose spouse has lost work," she says. She does not anticipate difficulty filling these positions.