As of June 28, 2018, the U.S Department of Labor states that “In the week ending June 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 227,000, nationally. That is an increase of 9,000 claims from the previous week's unrevised level of 218,000 claims.”
And the NC Department of Commerce states, “North Carolina’s May 2018 unemployment rate decreased 0.2 of a percentage point from a year ago. The number of people employed increased 12,280 over the month to 4,774,254 and increased 64,944 over the year. The number of people unemployed decreased 5,969 over the month to 213,611 and decreased 6,727 over the year.
Ok, so at this point, if you’re not the type of person to be driven by data or empirical data and information, you’re probably ready to zone out, but wait…this information matters and I’m going to tell you why. Overall, the national numbers don’t look that bad, I mean 227,000 unemployment claims on a national level are pretty good. And the state of NC is showing a decrease of almost 6,000 claims in one month with only 213,611 people actually filing. But of course, we are assuming that everyone is filing right? If I were to start about all the different reasons why people don’t file like socio-economic situations, homelessness, and disparities it would take this blog into a direction that would best be served at a later time. But what I do want to do is to have an industry-specific conversation regarding why this matters to seniors.
I have been confronted multiple times by my advisors for my ‘picky hiring practices’ and if I were, to be honest…I would say that I am proud to wear this badge of honor. See, I have seen it too many times to count…a senior services company hires employees, pays them low wages, and guess what, in this industry, you truly get what you pay for. I recently posted a blog about abuse (if you haven’t read it…you really should) and although I changed the name in the blog, unfortunately, this was a true story. The fact is there was a lot of neglect going on at this location. Now, I’m not talking about a large 100+ resident community, it was actually a small home that only housed approximately 5-6 seniors at the time. At first, I sent the staff in to monitor and sit with the client that we were asked to spend time with. It wasn’t an hour into her shift that my cell phone began ringing non-stop. At this point, I knew I needed to step in. And I personally handled this case myself. Yes, it was smart to go because of the risk involved…but the truth is what I saw was appalling.
The place was severely understaffed and the employees that were there worked 12-hour shifts. But here’s the thing, if you are already understaffed and one person doesn’t show up, who is going to work the next 12 hours? You guessed it, the same employee that just worked 12 hours. So now you have employees working 24 hours shifts with seniors that are varied in needs (different stages of dementia, handicapped with wheelchairs, hard of hearing, etc.). Now, it could be that these were potentially great employees, but what effect do you think that the company’s hiring practices had on the moral and care that those employees were able to give? Do you think that they never attempted to sleep during that 24-hour shift, the answer is NO! They actually slept in front of me and honestly I don’t think that it wasn’t because they didn’t care about the seniors…it was probably because the company that they worked for didn’t care about them. When you work for a company that makes you feel this way and is already underpaying you it is so easy to begin to reflect that company’s culture outwardly towards the residents, because of pure exhaustion and hopelessness. Two days before that particular client was moved to another location, I walked in and the mother had a terrible black eye. It was so bad that we had to call a doctor because the eye that was hit was no longer centered and facing forward (sadly, it never did return to normal). Fortunately, once I began to explain the situation to the client’s daughter she took swift action and begin looking for another place for her mom and also asked me and my staff to tag along and work another month to give a proper assessment of the care their mom was getting at the new location (which was impeccable).
So now, why is picky about hiring paying off for me? It not only avoids situations like this but also allows me to selectively, decisively, and strategically pick the cream of the crop. I do this by working with the employee 1:1 in a home and observing their emotional intelligence, capacity for empathy, a range of patience, communication style, and also making sure that it will be a personality match with that senior. How many In-home Senior Service CEO’s do you know care enough to do that? Well, we do exist. It’s the capacity to care and working within our purpose that allows focusing on the details of the entire person (both the employee and the client). There are so many companies out there that will just pick random people to go into a senior’s home. I have also found that within the state of NC the average range of pay for in-home service workers usually starts at $8.50/hour but may cap off not too far from this amount. So this usually means that if one company will offer a good employee a little more they will usually leave and go to the other business because the pay and cost of living (COLA) is so disproportionate.
The goal shouldn’t be the lowest paying company in town, which is not an incentive to get the best employees. When I find the best, I pay to keep the best. Imagine the stress and potential risk that is mitigated just by being mindful of the importance of the employee. I rarely worry about employees leaving unless they are directing their career in a different direction or going back to school, but they always reach back out and stay in touch. Employees that feel valued provide value through quality service, doing more than what was even expected within the clients home, and using every opportunity to spend time with the client (i.e. No sitting around watching TV because “they don’t get paid to do the other stuff”) so yes, for me…picky hiring is definitely paying off in more ways than one! Clients should expect the quality of service and quality of care which is why we push our company culture forward…“ hands to help & hearts that love and if there is one thing that an Elderly Services company should be passionate a …it is being compassionate! It’s not enough for a company to show care towards clients and neglect the importance of the relationship with the employee.
Unconditional Care Senior Services, LLC