I am excited to have a conversation with Brandi Kurtyka. Brandi’s the CEO at my CNA jobs. One of the largest growing networks of caregivers, CNA’s and home health aides in the nation. Brandi comes with years of experience in business and marketing and has now become nationally recognized as a leading speaker on caregiver recruitment. Thanks for carving out some time today Brandi, how’s it going?
Yeah, we’re really excited to have you on today. Um, we’ve pushed out a lot of content together over the last few months, and today I’m really excited to just follow up on those topics and have a conversation about where we’re headed. So let’s dive right in. If you’re ready. Let’s do it. Awesome. So how are the labor trends continuing to evolve as we move forward? Right now?
Uh, I’d say both the labor market and economy changed nearly overnight. We went from a historical low unemployment rate to great depression level unemployment, and just like everything right now. Things are sometimes evolving sometimes on what feels like a day to day basis. You know, I’m sitting here in our Tampa office and a few weeks ago, looked like things were opening back up. People were going back to restaurants. The mall opened its doors and it felt more like normal. And if you could see me right now, you’d say of air quotes around the word through our mall. Today, I walked into our office and the restaurant that’s in our office building had a closed for good side and they’re not planning to reopen. And this is a fairly large chain here in Florida, you know, and just last week I had a conversation with the Austin people working there that had no idea that this was coming.
So my take on how labor trends are evolving is that it’s, it’s changing quick. And it’s important to ensure that your strategies and tactics are staying up to date with where things are moving. Um, personally, I think this is a sea of opportunity for home care when it comes to both client growth and recruitment. I like to say that the industry just got the largest gut milk campaign that anyone’s ever seen. More people value home based care. And as people look for work, home care is open for business and set to grow.
Yeah. So quick answer is yes. Um, my CNH has helped 3.9 million people find jobs in senior care last year and we anticipate will help even more. This year, caregivers are fundamentally, they are searching for work. We have a very active job market. However, we’re seeing that things are changing. So pre COVID, it was common to see a caregiver worked for a couple of home care agencies and also drive for Uber, have a job in retail. They worked for a few companies today. Uh, and again, to my, to my earlier comment, you know, things are evolving really quickly, but today we’re seeing it’s more common that there’s like a single employer. So one of the things that we saw on the home care side is many agencies that decided not to take COVID patients mandated that their caregivers couldn’t work for an agency that did take COVID patients.
So essentially this, you know, change the market dynamic a bit, meaning that more caregivers were needed to staff, current patients, and pretty much all retail and fast food was shut down or greatly reduced. So people that had multiple jobs had at least one cut. We’re also seeing, um, where a caregiver used to apply to let’s say three, four, five jobs in their area. They now may apply to one or two. So the application rates went down and caregivers are being more selective on where they want to go. We’re seeing caregivers spend more time. For instance, reading job ads, they’re spending actually more time on the page. They want to ensure that they’re going to go to a company that has the characteristics that they’re looking for right now. And I’d say overall, they have more questions, different questions than they had in the past. When it comes to evaluating an employer, we’re seeing, uh, more caregivers call us versus just go online. They want to learn about and more about a company. They want to see if it’s someone that they should spend their time with. Um, one thing that I would say, I think has, and will stay constant and it’s going to be important is still being an employer of choice. You know, pre COVID caregivers had a choice, wanted to work for a good company post COVID. They still want the same thing and they’re scrutinizing where they want to apply based on their evaluation of an employer.
Interesting. Yeah. I want to expound on that slightly and you’ve kind of touched on it, but what are the questions that they’re asking now? You, is it still safety and training or the status of their client or, you know, what are those questions shifting in the caregiver’s mind right now?
Yeah, good question. Um, we’re seeing less on training and more, I would say on stability brand safety instill a lot on flexibility and willingness to be flexible in schedule I take is because things are so uncertain right now, stability is becoming more important than it was before. And if you think about the gig economy, that thrives on flexibility, but right now people are valuing, um, stability. Like if my client passes away, do you have hours for me? Will you have the same hours for me each week? What can I expect today? And three months from now in terms of compensation, stability, and working for a company that is solid seems to be more important than it was pre pandemic. Um, I’d say at the end of the day, caregivers still know they have a choice. So a caregiver can still get a job at nearly any agency or any assisted living building.
They want to work for a company that they think is a good employer and is going to have their back and treat them well. So they have a lot of questions on the employer and the company themselves. We’re also getting a lot of questions on safety and that’s, you know, pre-interview, that’s during the interview, that’s on the job. I’d say we’re seeing caregivers really valuing, being able to interview virtually it’s in a safe environment. They value having questions answered on a PPE. Um, they value knowing their employer has a plan in place. Like what happens if I get sick? What happens if my client gets sick? So they have a lot of questions around that. And, um, openness and talking about, and kind of addressing those things about safety protocols is becoming more of a factor. I think in evaluating, is this a company I want to apply to?
Is this a company I might be interested in, um, working for, we’re also seeing folks that have never explored the profession that want to come in and check it out. And I’m excited about that. I think that’s something that’s just really cool. Um, we just launched a really cool new and free program called coach up cares that can actually allow an agency to help people in their own local community learn about what a home care job is all about and a new person coming into the profession for the first time tends to have a lot more questions and different questions than folks that have already doing it for, for a while. But that’s my take, I mean, it is shifting a bit, these are questions that we, you know, weren’t getting, or weren’t getting in the, um, same droves that we’re getting them now, uh, pre COVID.
Yeah, great loaded response and all valid questions, you know, with the changing landscape it’s valid, you know, for the caregivers to be asking those questions. So great response there. I want to take kind of a step back and ask more of a perspective question. What is the hiring landscape going to look like if this recession becomes longer term?
Preface this by saying, I don’t have a crystal ball here at myCNAjobs. I don’t have any sitting on my desk here. And, um, my, my office, I did not have a pandemic plan with 2020 began. Um, so, you know, my guess is as good as anyone’s, but I, I personally think that’s where we’re heading. Like, I think this is going to be a longer term thing. I don’t think this is something that we blink our eyes and things go back to again, air quotes around the word normal. I don’t think that exists. Um, but when I think about the hiring landscape hiring is still one of the most important fundamental pieces of running a home care business. It is the business, it’s the lifeblood of the business. So I think at the end of the day, I think agencies have the opportunity to hire up. You’re still going to need to hire. I think now’s an interesting opportunity to get the best workers, keep the best workers and create a brand that caregivers ultimately want to work for. In my humble opinion, the agencies that are going to do the best are going to keep the pedal down on recruitment and become selective on who they want to hire to build up their team and, and treat their team well again, focusing on that, you know, building a place that caregivers want to work.
Sure. Good question. So, um, it was neat to see when the pandemic really started, how quickly agencies went virtual. And I think moving virtual in a way that the agency can maintain it is going to be really important. And when I say virtual, I’m referring to things like, uh, recruiting virtually. So video interviews, getting all of your, you know, forms online and going digital, that was something that most agencies didn’t have. And they’re still striving towards that. Um, checking references, digitally onboarding remotely, I’m using virtual tools to stay connected. And again, when the pandemic, I think there’s a leapfrog for the industry and that’s been a good thing. Um, but we are seeing, you know, a couple of camps of agencies kind of emerge and some are saying, you know, those virtual tools, those were nice. I want to get back to again, normal and others are embracing this new virtual world as a new way of doing business.
And I think the ones that are embracing this as a new way to do business are going to set themselves up to be most successful. So I think, you know, making sure your, your virtual strategies are, are sound and are the right ones is, is a focus that I would have place. Um, I’d say overall, um, I would look at your recruitment advertising and the message that you’re putting out to the world, right? Um, pandemic kit, um, getting your, your recruitment advertising and your job ads and what you’re saying that was not top of mind and rightfully so for a lot of agencies, but I think it’s time to go, you know, dust that off and look at it, see if what you’re saying and the message that you’re putting out to the world and your job ads or wherever you’re advertising, if it addresses what people care about now, does it address, um, you know, some of the questions that we talked about is it knowing that a caregiver might not be applying to as many jobs, if you were a caregiver in your market, reading all the different ads, and I encourage an agency to do this, go read everything your competitors are putting out.
Would you be the one that, uh, ultimately someone wants to pick? Um, we have a whole old free download and guide and we keep it updated of here’s the job ads that people are, you know, um, applying to and converting. Now you can ask for it, it’s free. You can download it. We do analyses on these things. I would say, you want to dust it off and you want to keep your ads updated. You want to invest in your brand. I think anything you invest in your brand now is setting you up for success. Not only today, but down the road, you know, be visible out there in your community. And my, again, humble opinion. You want to keep recruiting. You want to keep the pedal down. You want to keep jobs out. Even if you’re not recruiting at the same rate, you want to have your brand visible.
Again, it ties back to that stability piece and going to work for somebody in the community that is known and is trusted. I think those are important things. And, um, you know, one thing we’ve, we’ve always said that I still think holds true. You want to test, what’s working and you want to measure your recruitment and recognize that what worked in the past may not work as well for you today, or maybe it works better for you today. And what might work a month from now might look a little bit different than it does today. I think just because things are changing so quickly, and there’s a lot of unknowns building a culture where you’re continuously, um, testing and measuring is something that’s gonna remain really important. Yeah. I appreciate the bit about fine tuning or advertising. I mean, right now there is really increased awareness for the benefits of home care and there’s higher demand even for services as, as things evolve.
So you’ve touched on a few, but what are some other areas of opportunity for agencies right now, you know, new strategies or best practices, you know, we’ve talked about virtual and remote work water, maybe some other areas of opportunity for these agency owners?
Yeah. Good question. I think from a recruitment standpoint, focus on building a really strong team. So keep the pedal down, like build your dream team, like pre COVID. You know, I would say agencies weren’t as, or didn’t have as much of a focus on being selective. I mean, a large portion of agencies. I don’t remember the exact number off the top of my head, but I would say at 60% or 65% of agencies were turning away cases because they didn’t have a caregiver to staff it. So a lot of agencies were in just like full desperate mode. I think it’s a really good opportunity to build a strong team and build your, you know, your dream team and same from a retention standpoint, you know, keep your caregivers close, invest in them.
Um, that’s where I think an opportunity is, is you’re not just adding caregivers to add caregivers to your team. You’re really focusing on who, who do I want on my, my dream team and on my bench to, to grow my business and from a marketing and sales standpoint, that’s where I humbly think there’s a huge opportunity, you know, looking at how you can offer new lines of business to serve the needs of your community and the pandemics hit different communities in different ways. I mean, it’s impacted us all nationally, but, um, you know, what’s happening in Tampa is different than what’s happening on, on long Island, but I’m bullish on home care and I’d say focus on not just weathering the storm, but the opportunity is setting yourself up to grow from both a building, a dream team, recruitment perspective, retention perspective, and a growth perspective.
Yeah. Great response. Yeah. I appreciate what’s been said. Um, as we kind of close out the conversation, we’ve touched on a lot of really great points. I want to kind of wrap it up discussing what are three of the tips or takeaways that we’ve discussed? What are three that you would focus on, or you would tell an agency owner today to say, Hey, these are what you need to start doing today. You know, maybe hit on some that you’ve already talked about or, or maybe some in addition to, but what are three takeaways that an agency owner needs to get started today?
If they’re not already good question, I’m thinking because it’s easier to give you more than three. So, um, three, so one I would say, think about, I used to say, it’s so funny to say this. I used to say benches don’t exist.
There’s no such thing as a bench benches, our old caregivers go where the hours are. I think that’s changed. I think the benches back. So I would build up an army and a bench if you will. So you can pick the best, um, workers and you can pick the best workers to match to the cases quickly. I think that’s where the puck is going. Your ability to be able to match a client to a case quickly just became more important and caregivers, again, want to go where the hours are and there’s a good match there. So I think I’m investing in that concept, which isn’t easy. Cause there’s that changes things. You know, you, you gotta keep people on your bench that might not be billing hours right now, but you’re keeping warm and they’re so part of your family, if you will, um, this has stayed the same, but I would say, keep investing in becoming the place caregivers want to work.
Um, that’s, that’s important. And this kind of, I guess, leads into number three. You want to make sure you either overhaul your processes or you have the right processes in place where your caregiver first. And I think a lot of companies might fall into this easy trap of thinking. You know, more people are out of work right now. More people need jobs. People need me, I would humbly stay focused on the caregiver and focused on, um, creating that environment that they’re excited to get behind and they want to work for you. And that creates a differentiator that also helps improve retention and the strength of your team. And I think we have a tremendous opportunity to build culture and become that, um, destination where a caregiver actually wants to choose to be.
You know, what does, what does the landscape look like right now? But more importantly, what can an agency owner do today to, you know, have success right now in the short term, but also set themselves up for success longterm. So I really appreciate you joining us today. Brandi, honestly, we’ve really hit on some great topics and you’ve gone into just the right amount of depth, not to overwhelm our audience, but to give them hope and give them ideas moving forward. So we’ll look forward to teaming up on more content in the future. Um, but for now, say hi to the rest of your team and take care.