Unlike their parents, who traditionally prioritized job security and income, millennials often look for jobs that provide them with unique and enriching experiences, a sense of fulfillment and new adventures. These new demands millennials have for their careers have influenced several industries, including healthcare, and have forced employers to shift how they approach this emergent labor force and appeal to millennial job seekers in unique ways.

The home healthcare industry was slow to innovate — a fact that continues to negatively impact hiring. While other sectors present millennial cohorts with jobs as experiences — complete with fulfilling missions, efficient digital engagements, fun work environments and exciting opportunities — home healthcare providers have been slow to adjust.

The current shortage in home healthcare nurses and caregivers can be partially traced back to this digital drought and has started to seriously affect the care that is provided to patients and families. Furthermore, a rapidly aging workforce could lead to a mass exodus toward retirement, and per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million new nursing jobs will become available in the next 10 years. In many cases, the problems with replacing this retiring labor force are self-inflicted.

Despite advances in technology in other sectors, home healthcare is still predominantly relying on phone tag, paper schedules and job boards to recruit and manage their caregivers. However, by shifting focus and appealing to millennials to replenish recruitment numbers, innovation can reinvent home healthcare and create a system that attracts the largest generation in the workforce currently.

How Millennials Can Stem the Flow

According to a recent report, one in seven nurses in the U.S. are expected to retire in the next seven years. These numbers are not just concerning; they are alarming. To survive this mass outflow, the industry must appeal to millennials as a new labor force. However, this requires more than simply re-targeting a recruiting pitch.

For starters, millennials prize flexibility in employment, which home healthcare offers with flexible scheduling. Technology can help cater to this flexibility even further by digitizing scheduling and communication between the clinicians and their employers. Also, platforms are developing to offer more information on patients, to empower nurses and caregivers to build a schedule that suits their location, skillset and other important preferences.

Moreover, millennials search for meaningful jobs that let them make a difference. This is a major draw for home healthcare, where helping people offers a greater reward beyond a paycheck. The industry is also based on advancement through learning, with workers constantly finding new ways to help and grow.

Nursing Is Attractive, But More Needs to Be Done

Even though home healthcare has been resistant to change, the good news is that millennials are already drawn to the industry. The issue isn’t the work itself; recent surveys show that millennials have a strong desire to work in industries such as nursing, which is expected to expand by 36 percent in coming years. The problem is that the industry needs to continue to break down the blockades to digital expansion.

Currently, satisfaction rates are low and recruitment costs are high, costing agencies anywhere between $1,500 to $3,000 per skilled home health nurse, with only an average of 47 percent of these nurses filling new, open positions, and the other 53 percent replacing churned employees. The pool of recruitable candidates is shallow, as agencies remain siloed, leaving caregivers to be affiliated to only one agency, limiting the potential to cover more shifts across a variety of agencies — and caring for more patients without any service interruptions.

These problems also mean that it’s difficult to schedule workers far in advance. Most caregivers and nurses are only able to plan their work schedules one week in advance. Without the freedom, autonomy and motivation millennials seek, home healthcare is missing one of the key values for finding, engaging and keeping a millennial workforce.

The Future for Millennials in Home Healthcare

More than simply onboarding new caregivers, we must focus on creating an ecosystem that encourages them to stay. This may not happen overnight, but there are several key areas where the industry can continue to improve.

One of the first aspects we must focus on is offering flexibility — a system that lets supply and demand match freely, much like Uber does for transportation. Caregivers should have the freedom to find the shifts they want and easily schedule them with their patients. This also includes the ability to communicate more easily, higher pay, more convenience and a community that lets professionals show their credentials and experience.

Finally, the industry must build a community and culture that not only meets millennials’ preferences but encourages them to stay and continually meets their needs. The current turnover in the home healthcare industry is threatening to go from a steady drip to a flood, and unless better practices are implemented to serve caregivers, we’ll be unable to care for our patients.

Assaf Shalvi is the CEO of Swift Shift, a mobile software platform for Home Healthcare recruitment and workforce management.

medicine The current turnover in the home healthcare industry is threatening to go from a steady drip to a flood unless better practices are implemented to serve caregivers. Photo: Pixabay