The State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis 2022

The longstanding direct support workforce crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to closures of critically needed services and a denial of access to community-based supports.
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Connections - 09.29.22

Practical Tips for Better Recruiting & Hiring

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The two main obstacles, apart from hourly pay, to more effective hiring and recruiting are:

  • Outdated and ineffective job postings.
  • Applicant follow-up procedures that are outdated.

Job Posting Start to Finish infographic

Update Job Postings to Focus on What’s Important to Applicants

  • Many prospective applicants are scared of layoffs. Emphasize you are government-funded and offer better job security than many alternatives. “ABC Provider is funded by the state. We offer very stable employment opportunities with 40 hours a week.” Job security can be equally important as the mission.
  • Group home providers: If overtime is available, highlight this. Many prospective employees are more focused on weekly take home pay. “A direct support professional (DSP) on average earns $120 per week extra in overtime after six months.”
  • If your agency pays extra for working on a holiday, include this. Retail outlets don’t. “All hours worked on any one of 10 holidays is paid at time-and-a-half.”
  • If any positions are eligible for a higher shift or service differential, make this clear. “Certain shifts are paid at a $4/hour higher rate.”
  • Include an annual valuation of your benefits package with the hourly rate/salary. Many other employers can’t compete with agencies on benefits for similar positions. “Plus an annual benefit package worth on average $2,500 a year after six months.”
  • If the position offers mileage reimbursement, bring your own device compensation for a mobile phone or other non-taxable payments, include these. Many employers don’t provide these. “A $10 nontaxable reimbursement is paid each month for using your smart phone for work.” “Approved mileage is reimbursed at $0.55 per mile.” Non-taxable income is very important to applicants.
  • Let applicants know what equipment will be provided: smart phone, tablet, laptop, vehicle, etc. Some employers expect employees to provide these. “A smart phone, plan and tablet provided.”
  • If the position can be partially or fully “work from home,” market it. For prospective employees with children, this can be huge. Plus savings on commute time and costs can be a big factor. “There is an 80% work from home option after three months.”
  • Remove any jargon that applicants may not understand such as “QIDP,” “IP,” “DSS” or “community inclusion.”
  • Substitute “You” and “Your” where feasible for your agency’s name to instead say “Our” or “We.” Make sure the job posting is “applicant centric,” instead of it being about yourself.
  • Many employees hate frequent schedule changes and micro-managing. Emphasize you are a caring organization that cares about its employees as well as the individuals you support.

Broaden Your Applicant Pool

  • Make it easy for applicants from other professions to apply. Don’t just compete with other providers over the same applicants: broaden your pool! Almost all jobs include some form of paid training. Explain what training is provided and other support like mentoring programs to new applicants. Make sure the applicant knows how you will help them succeed.
  • Create multiple job postings for different types of applicants. There are three main target groups:
    • Applicants already working as caregivers
    • GenZ and Millennials seeking an opportunity to serve
    • Applicants who have no prior experience
  • Post to multiple job boards. Don’t just use Indeed. Use every free job board available. With the right software, human resources professionals can post to multiple job boards with one click.

Follow these best practices with any hiring software and your agency should do better!

Make it Easy for Applicants to Apply

  • Don’t ask candidates to fax their resume. Few people today know what a fax is, let alone have access to one. This makes your organization look out-of-date. Printing and uploading paper job applications will also lose applicants.
  • Create a standard, applicant-friendly text library to reuse with all initial applicants. Asking today’s new hire to download a paper form to fill in and email back is a big turn off. It’s too hard. The candidate needs to be able to apply within your talent management application, ideally from their phone. The application should take no more than two minutes to complete. Don’t ask too many questions initially; keep it to a minimum and follow up during an interview.
  • Make sure that your application process is 100% mobile friendly.
  • Modern employers communicate through text, which is the best medium for reaching today’s new hires, especially GenZ and Millennials. Avoid phone calls until you have built a relationship.

Don’t Scare Applicants in the Recruitment Process

  • Avoidable ghosting happens between application steps because too much time passes, or the process is perceived as difficult. Keep applicants informed on next steps. Practice “high-velocity hiring.”
  • Use texting to reach the applicant directly. Don’t use the phone or email initially. Be personable, don’t sound robotic and make your processes as easy as possible for applicants.
  • For in-person interviews, send your address, the correct door to use and who they’re meeting. Send photos of who they’re meeting so they can find the right person. Essentially, you want to hold the applicant’s hand.
  • Consider video interviews with a few employees and what your process will be for virtual interviews.

Create a profile of why your best employees work for your agency. How does their job benefit this employee? Why does their job work for their life? Make the job description appeal to a candidates with similar qualities. Assume the applicant has no idea what a DSP is.

Agency Workforce Management supports all the needs of I/DD and behavioral health service providers: time & attendance, EVV, scheduling, hiring, training, HR, payroll and billing integration, documentation, electronic health records and more. Visit mitcagencies.com or email [email protected] to learn more.