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HR Expert shares insights on attracting caregivers with Anne-Lise Gere

Anne-Lise Gere is one of the foremost human resources experts in Home Care.  She works with Hurricane Marketing Enterprise (aka Steve the Hurricane) to teach the Momentum program (link includes discount code).


Our talk with Ann-Lise comes at a time when the US is in the process of "opening up" from the COVID-19 pandemic. Some key points discussed cover the following:

  • The improved visibility of home care as a result of Covid-19
  • The negative impacts of the pandemic on the home care work force
  • Ideas on how to raise the profile of caregiving jobs
  • The reality that the agencies with caregivers are the agencies who will grow and thrive
  • How to compete by being the "best home care employer in your region"
  • Best practice ideas*

* My favorite of Anne-Lise's suggestions was to reach out to each member of your caregiver team who  work fewer than 35 hours in a week to see if they'd like to work more hours. This initiative has the benefits that 1) you can increase your work force capacity by up to 40% with no hiring fees, and 2) the personal phone call will show caregivers that you care for them and will engender loyalty. 

Born in France and raised in the UK since age 7, Anne-List came to the US as an adult and as a military-bride. She lives in Coastal Virginia.

You can contact Anne-List and sign-up for her weekly insights email through her website www.gereconsulting.com.

Home Care Heroes is produced and sponsored by Ankota - the Software for the Heroes of Home Care. We truly embrace the notion that caregivers and home care companies are heroes. Our top priorities simplicity, caregiver retention and outstanding service. Visit us at https://www.ankota.com.


Ken Accardi (00:01):

Today on home care heroes, we have an extraordinary guest. Anne-Lise Gere Is one of the best caregiver recruiting and retention consultants on the planet. And she has some great ideas to share with you.

Announcer (00:14):

Welcome to the home care heroes podcast, featuring trending topics and practical wisdom for success in home care. Here's your host Ken Accardi.

Ken Accardi (00:26):

Welcome to home care heroes for today. I have an outstandingly special guest today. Her name is Anne-Lise Gere, and she is one of the world experts in recruiting and retention in the home care business. And just to give a little bit of background on Anne-Lise is that she actually is working with Steve the hurricane from Hurricane Marketing Associates on a very special program called Momentum where Steve and Anne-Lise are teaching it together.. It's all about recruiting and retention. They're actually in their third cohort of this presentation, but just by means of background. Anne-Lise actually was born in France and she's been a two times immigrant. She immigrated to England as a young girl, and then she's actually a military wife. And that's what brought her to the U S which is kind of interesting.

Ken Accardi (01:23):

Most of you are probably hearing the podcast on your Apple podcasts or Spotify or Google or wherever you listen to your podcasts, but we also have a YouTube edition and I would encourage you to go look at Anne-Lise on YouTube. I think that you will think that she maybe doesn't look like the stereotypical military bride. We'll have to see what you think about that. But having said that Anne-Lise, first of all, welcome to home care heroes. And thank you for speaking with us today.

Anne-Lise Gere (01:51):

Thank you Ken, it's a pleasure.

Ken Accardi (01:53):

The pleasure is all mine. What I'd like to dive into today, and we're recording this in may of 2021. We're kind of at a time in our history where I feel like for the first time we here in the U S feel like we're coming out of the pandemic at this point, anyone who is 16 or older is able to get the vaccine.

Ken Accardi (02:15):

I personally have had both of my shots of my vaccine and everybody has as well. And it was just announced that the Pfizer vaccine is good for children down to age 12. So it looks like we're making progress on that. What I thought would be an interesting theme for today is that if we look at home care in the past year, it's probably gotten more national positive attention than it has in the past. But at the same time, we actually had a reduction in our, our home care workforce. So the central theme of today will be what do we do to get people into the industry,,, But let me, open up today by asking you to comment on the positive image that home care now has, and ask if we, are we taking best advantage of that? What's your thought on that, Anne-Lise?

Anne-Lise Gere (03:15):

So there's no doubt that the pandemic is really sort of opened the eyes of many people to the fact that there is an alternative to sending grandma to a retirement home, which is what most people want to do. Anyway, it's staying in your home. And the people who provide that service really are very valuable resources. And in a time of a pandemic, some called them heroes, they were so committed to taking care of their clients that they would go out. And we knew that before, right? Even before the pandemic in a snow storm, in a hurricane, depending on where you are in life, I've got a client in Michigan winters mean that they have to do a lot of prep when the blizzard is on the way. And those caregivers, they go out and they take care of their clients regardless of the weather.

Anne-Lise Gere (04:13):

So we, we, we knew that they were committed. I think it's sort of reason fraud and center on the national news. And thank God we had those people. So we didn't have to send our seniors outside of the home when the home is considered to be the worst considered to be the safest place during a pandemic. But the flip side of that of course, is we know because the data came out last month, that the workforce contracted by above 3%, from a year ago. And that's really the result of many different things. I think the first one is just like many of us young givers had preexisting health conditions that made them potentially more susceptible to the COVID virus. And they decided that it was just not safe for them to continue to work at this time. Then you've got, of course, preschools daycare, regular schools closing and taking a huge chunk of the female workforce.

Anne-Lise Gere (05:15):

And when we know that the vast majority of caregivers are women and women of childbearing age, many of them with school, age children, it just is unavoidable that these women would choose to stay home and take care of their children. Especially very young ones. I guess they had no other choice. I'm the mother of three children, mine are older now, but I do remember working in the summer time when they were home and still trying to run my business. It was extremely challenging, but it was my business. I am a professional. I was committed to make it work. You can see that if you're on paid minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage, and of course you're getting those expended in employment benefits, staying home becomes in many States, became a much more profitable proposition at a time where you really didn't have many other options. And you were probably protecting yourself and your family from catching a very scary virus. So all of that really has created a sadly a contraction of the workforce,

Ken Accardi (06:26):

Right? So we do have, it seems like two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, nobody wanted their mom to be an institutional care or even in daycare centers and people wanted to be at home. So we have our demand, which is already going up astronomically because of our aging, elderly population became even faster growing. And the positive image that was painted on home care is probably more than it's ever been in the past. But as you said, working moms didn't want to get into workforce. I would say sometimes our great caregivers, our younger elderly people, sometimes the 60 year old is taking care of an 85 year old may say to drop out of the workforce. Exactly. And then we did have those stimulus checks and in some places, the wages of home care are not the most competitive wages. And that's something that there's a lot of thought going into.

Ken Accardi (07:20):

So yeah, I think those are a lot of the reasons why the workforce came down. I know that before we started recording today that you, you, you made an interesting analogy between the way that science, technology, engineering and math or the STEM fields has been really positively portrayed, especially to young women. And, and I, I know that you have a daughter who is getting a bachelor of science degree. I'm actually married to wife who is working on making a surgical robot for Medtronic and these types of things. And she's on the board of a group here in Boston called the science club for girls. So we're big fans of STEM. And we really thought a lot of work as a, as a country and with organizations like the science club for girls and the girl Scouts and everything to really try to teach young women that being in the STEM fields is something that they could do. Have we done anything like that?

Anne-Lise Gere (08:13):

I don't care, not on the national level. So yes, I've, I've thought for a long time, based on my experience, working with the girl Scouts, I was actually a girl scout troop leader for a number of years is that, we need to Mount a similar national PR campaign to, I guess, at this point, not so much raise the profile of the home health home care careers, but sort of use the spark that was ignited in 2020 and sort of take it from there and explain, all the good things that are happening in the home and why it really makes sense as a country to, to go in that direction. But it means also having the workforce to support that. And so how do we elevate the workforce? We talk about the continuum of care, right? But there is still very much a dichotomy between people who work in healthcare and health systems, hospitals, right?

Anne-Lise Gere (09:16):

Serious medicine, which comes with usually a lot of respect and people who provide care in the home, it's considered like a sort of a second best or the poorer parents alternative test. The way the reality of that market is changing. That those differences really don't make sense anymore. They are not supported by the reality of what's happening. And so we need a PR campaign at the national level spearheaded by our national home health and home care organizations to really raise the profile of these careers that are plentiful. There is job available. It's almost recession proof because of the demographic trends. The one thing that we are missing compared to STEM is that STEM careers pay extremely well. And sadly home health, home care careers, don't usually take the, the top of the salary ranking quite the contrary. So it is a difficult proposition to make an argument for these to be an attractive career.

Anne-Lise Gere (10:25):

When you know that, especially for front care workers, they have to work several jobs to be able to patch together a living wage. Right? So it also brings up a political question, which the Biden administration seems to be addressing. But, the devil is always in the details with the big infrastructure plan. There's a lot of money that's earmarked to go. If the plan passes, of course, your Mark tours, the home health industry, a lot of that is supposed to go to raising the wages of direct care workers, but apparently that's only going to be for one year. So what happens, of second, third, fourth, fifth year, right? So that it is, it is something that is beyond what local agencies can do. However, they can lobby their professional association to really try to tackle that. And, they might be. And I know that in some States I have heard in Maryland, they are some counties where local people have sort of mounted a workforce development campaign with the local community colleges and high schools to try to create a pipeline and train and develop the workforce to feed their industry. But those are very, very localized efforts, but they could be good examples probably to, to emulate

Ken Accardi (11:56):

Definitely a challenge. And I think that we can all agree. And as a matter of fact, a lot of the guests who've been on home care heroes have agreed that the agencies who are able to have the caregivers are able to grow because that's really what it comes down to. And you actually made dimension again, before we got started today, that it really comes down to being the most desirable home care employer in your area. And I know that's something that in the momentum program, and in other ways, you do a lot of consulting on really how to make these agencies more desirable. The absent thoughts there is there like a silver bullet, is there one thing they need to do or

Anne-Lise Gere (12:34):

No, silver bullets, no easy button. I'm afraid. No, I am not very optimistic on the fact that we're going to be able to grow the workforce to really keep up with the increasing demand for services. I actually hope that, Oh, your wife who works on robots and her colleagues will come with some ways to, and it's already started of course, of integrating more technology in the home so that there are some things where you may not need to have a physical human caregiver, but there will always be a need for that. But as the number of people who need service in their home is really growing very, very fast. We just are not growing the workforce as fast. And we all know that. So it's a zero sum game. And the only way to get the business is to get the workforce and to get the workforce.

Anne-Lise Gere (13:34):

You've got to be the best gig in town so that you are the most attractive. So what does it look like in a nutshell is to have good job strategies, so make sure that you pay competitively. And I know when you talk about pay, it, it, it then means how you charge your, your clients, your, and that's not really my area of expertise, but it's intimately connected to that. I think also being able to offer flexible work, that's a term that's actually very fraught, I think because flexible work when it's in the math of an employer means you work. Whenever we ask you to, when you, when a caregiver says, I want flexible work. They mean I want work that fits with what I, my other life responsibilities. And very often those do not mean the same thing. They don't mean the same hours.

Anne-Lise Gere (14:33):

So I think if you want to be able to also provide consistency of work, which is super important as well for caregivers, being able to go to a shift work system where you provide four hour minimum and you have a morning shift and afternoon, and maybe a nighttime shift, and they are in four hour blocks. And you have, your caregiver, Linda, who does the morning shift three days a week at one client, and the afternoon shift five days a week at another client. And that schedule is the same every week until obviously something happens to one of the clients, but it makes also your scheduling life much easier because you're not sort of doing these onesies and twosies hours here and there. And so I think agencies have to show leadership in how they sell their services. And sometimes that means saying, no, no, we're not going to do a two hour shift because the senior needs help. It takes time. If you want to do a good job, we need to be here more than two hours. And so also that consistency you're able to basically fill a 40 hour a week work schedule much easier or 30 hour. You know, it just becomes easier to manage

Ken Accardi (15:53):

On a couple of the things that you've said. So, first of all, I think if you look at the jobs that compete for the people who might be a caregiver, other careers, they always seem to talk about shifts. Well, we have these shifts, but in home care, we don't really talk about shifts. We talk about hours. So it sounds like one thing that you've said here is that if we're able to use language that is more consistent and say, well, we have shifts that could be morning shifts, afternoon shifts. And then as you said, I mean, minimum four hour blocks of time. And I know that our mutual friend, Steve hurricane, he really talks about, never take a client with fewer than 20 hours a week because that's where you end up having the churn. First of all, if the client doesn't need more than 20 hours a week of care, they're probably not ready for home care.

Ken Accardi (16:40):

They're there. Maybe they need a, an occasional, babysitter or a house cleaner or something at that point. So that's kind of number one, but then number two, if you do bring in that person and you've brought on a caregiver and there's only a 10 hour a week shift, that's probably not enough to really make a difference in the life and the hours with that caregiver. And especially if it's like these little two hour blocks, it's not really attractive. So I think that shifts is something that's very important, but I will say that one of the attractive things about home care is that if you want to put your kids to bed at seven o'clock at night, and you want to work as your husband's there from eight until two in the morning, you could probably find that. And if you want to work Saturdays, or if you want to work during the school day, when your, when your kids are in school and things like that, I think that there are a lot of opportunities for maybe more flexibility in home care than there are.

Ken Accardi (17:33):

For example, working in a restaurant. I mean, restaurants are pretty much around the dinner hour and that might not be the time you might want to spend the dinner hour with your children, with your spouse. So there is some positivity and flexibility there, and you're right. And, we've all kind of been trained, pay and home care, and we need to make our margins. We need to earn enough. we we've talked to some agencies who, who actually charged customers much more than the Hey, pay their caregivers much more congratulations to them. And that's a niche of the market that you can go for. But it is a little bit tricky sometimes to pay the high end of the market, because that puts you in a, in jeopardy of your overall costs. But, interestingly, we all also a, another, I can't say it's a mutual friend because I'm going to refer to a company which is home care pulse, but we all look at the home care pulse report and consistently what our caregivers tell home care pulse is that the reason they leave agencies is because they can't get the hours.

Ken Accardi (18:32):

So it might be a little bit less critical that you're paying, 10 and a quarter an hour versus 11 an hour for this other agency that you could bring the person 40 hours a week. Whereas they're only offering them five or 10 hours a week. That might be one of those ingredients.

Anne-Lise Gere (18:48):

And also you got them sort of locked in with you. And so, they, if they're working for two or three agencies at the same time, it's much easier to drop one, one of your clients. So one of your agency, because you've got another two that you have on the go already. So, they, they have their eggs in different baskets, which is smart because the way the industry has drained them is the work is here today, but it may not be here tomorrow. So they have to self-insure against that risk. So we have created that monster ourselves by not being willing to commit to the workforce and say, if we have work, we'll make, we'll get you to work and we'll pay you if the work is not there, don't count on us. We're not going to do it. So I think that there's also that sort of culture, and that's not an easy one to change.

Anne-Lise Gere (19:46):

Of course, being able to maximize the utilization of your current workforce is probably the easiest way to recruit. So if you look at who your caregivers are, and if you have a lot of people who work 20 hours a week, are they working 20 hours a week by choice, or they are working 20 hours a week because they are working somewhere else. The rest of the time. I think it's a worthwhile conversation to get your, somebody from the agency to look at your roster, look at the work hours and contact. Every single caregiver is not working at least 35 hours a week and say, are you looking for more work? We have definitely work to be done here. Tell us what it would take to get you to work only for us. That's the caregivers are already recruited. So it's there. The air is just making the most of your resources.

Ken Accardi (20:42):

You've reminded me of a few things I heard. So recently I heard, I think it might've been in a presentation by that the people who come into the industry through some of the sites like indeed, and maybe my CNA jobs.com seem to stay in the industry less time than those who are referred by other caregivers. What's your experience there?

Anne-Lise Gere (21:04):

Well, I don't know if you know a Steven twin. Well, so Steven has done a lot of research over the years and that's one of his main findings is caregivers who come through a referral from family and friends, or also who come through some sort of church or faith organization recruitment. They tend to stay longer than people who work or just are sort of casual click on a website. Oh yeah, I'm interested. And I'll click. And then the reality is this caregivers can get a job within three days, right? So the barrier to dropping a one of your agencies very low, because they know that in three days or maybe less, they're going to make up the wages that they lose by not showing up to them, that shift with you.

Ken Accardi (21:58):

Yeah. That's a little bit of a scary thing. So it's great that we have experts like you. And I know that I've looked at a lot of your materials and that, all the answers on things like paying for travel and paying for overtime and structuring work and, and lots of these types of things that you share information, let's shift into the home stretch a little bit. So I know that people can work with you for example, through the momentum program, which sounds like a, it's a fantastic program. I think you're doing five cohorts through that program and you're on the third one. And there's some excellent training where you get some video training and then there's live sessions with the other owners and with you and Steve. So that sounds like a great way to come in, but what are other ways that people can come in and get to know you?

Anne-Lise Gere (22:42):

So I have a weekly newsletter. I've actually been writing blog posts since pretty much 2016. So people go on my website, gear, consulting.com and look at the blog area. There is a wealth of articles there on Mosi. Can I give her a recruitment, can give a retention? Can I give her training, which are the hot button button issues of obviously, if you haven't signed up for my newsletter, I would encourage you to do so. And every Wednesday morning, pretty much without fail. When you turn on your computer, it would be there waiting for you. And of course, I work with clients directly. So I provide HR on retainer. So if somebody doesn't have an HR person or they want a little bit more HR expertise, and they have the one, the backup of a professional HR person, they can contact me. And I have many clients who work with me that way. And I also do one-on-one specifically on caregiver, recruitment and retention for those who need maybe more help establishing their individual plans. So it's sort of a going deeper and more, more individual after maybe the momentum class.

Ken Accardi (24:02):

So let me just recap everything. So it's gear consulting.com. So that would be www dot Geer, G E R E consulting. So that's all one word gear consulting.com. And then you could look at the momentum program. You could look at the HR gun for hire, and you could actually bring, and Lisa on, let's say, part-times your organization to help with your HR needs. And then you could also do one-on-one coaching. So it does sound like there's a great set of options that are available through an Lee. So Emily's lesson, let me thank you so much for being on home care heroes that I think you had some fantastic ideas. I think one that if it's okay, I might get this in our blog as well, is that look at those people with fewer than 30 hours, fewer than 35 hours and ask them if they want more hours. And that would be, that's a great way of potentially increasing your reach and your workforce, and also, helping the caregivers on your team.

Anne-Lise Gere (24:58):

You're on your workforce by 25 to 30% with actually not hiring one single body and maybe even retain them because now they don't have to go and look somewhere else for another shift. They, you provide the work they need. So I think it, and just the simple fact of contacting your caregivers personally, and having that conversation will go a long ways to make them feel that they are seen and that the agency appreciate their work. And so it's all about, I'm a big proponent of using regular touch points with your caregivers, so that you, you are different from other agencies down the road who, give you a job, give you a name badge, and send you on your way. And they never talk to you again, unless there's a problem. So you want to be different from that by being present and supportive of your caregivers. And if you can get 15 of them to work 40 hours a week instead of 25, that's a lot of extra business for a small agency,

Ken Accardi (26:06):

Big ideas here in this, in this short time that we've had together today. And I really just loved that. So again, just a couple of recap is look to your workforce, who aren't working 40 hours, let's say and see if they want to increase and make sure that you communicate to your workforce and do everything that you can to be that most desirable employer in home care in your area. So with that Anne-Lise, thank you so much for meeting with us today. I'm sure our paths will cross sometime soon. And thank you for all of the great ideas that you've shared today on home care heroes!

Anne-Lise Gere (26:36):

Okay. Well, thank you, Ken. And I hope to see you at a future conference around the country here soon.

Announcer (26:44):

Thanks for joining us today on the home care heroes podcast, home care heroes is produced by Ankota, the software for the heroes of home care. You can listen to back episodes by visiting for home care heroes.com. That's the number four. Then the words, home care heroes.com.



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