A man sits behind a wooden table with three wooden blocks in front of him with the letters T, E, and A on them. He is setting down another with the Letter M, to spell out the word "Team".
Become the employer of choice rather than runner-up
by Scott Greenberg

“We’ve got the clients. What we need are the caregivers.” 

Long before the post-pandemic labor shortage, I heard some version of this comment countless times from my homecare clients. But I also give presentations in food service, hospitality, manufacturing and other industries employing hourly workers and I’ve seen how they’ve joined the war for workers. 

Everyone needs talent, and workers have choices. You want them to choose you. Here are a few ways you can easily become the employer that they want.

1. Make them feel special from the word ‘go.’

The journey to becoming an employer of choice begins the moment a potential caregiver walks through your door or interacts with your brand for the first time. The significance of first impressions can’t be overstated. It’s about creating an experience 
that not only stands out but also conveys a deep sense of appreciation for the applicant.

Take, for instance, the innovative approach of Walfinch Independent Home Living. Under the leadership of CEO Amrit Dhaliwal, the organization has mastered the art of making applicants feel valued from the get-go. Imagine arriving for an interview to find a parking space reserved just for you, complete with a sign bearing your name. This personalized touch extends indoors, where a video monitor is welcoming you by name and an interviewing manager offers you a warm greeting and a hot beverage. 

“We’ve run A/B tests and have found applicants are much more likely to accept the position if offered a coffee or tea,” Dhaliwal said. 

Such gestures might seem small, but they’re powerful demonstrations of the company’s culture of kindness and respect. It’s a culture that acknowledges the individual behind the application, fostering a connection that transcends the typical employer-applicant dynamic (which is what they’re getting at most other workplaces).

For current care workers, Walfinch celebrates personal milestones and recognizes hard work through handwritten notes. 

“We also clarify their availability upon hiring them and never ask them to work outside of that time,” Dhaliwal said. “We want them to know we respect their lives outside of work.” 

Anyone can offer more money. Someone probably does. Let them. But more hospitality, more creativity, more respect—these things speak to the heart. They’ll get noticed, and they’ll distinguish you from the crowd. They’re also the reason people stay.

2. Identify & meet caregivers’ ‘soft needs.’

Most companies focus on “hard needs”—the tangible things people want from a job. This is primarily money, but it may include other benefits. It’s what employees get in exchange for their work. “Soft needs” refer to their emotional desires. These include respect, praise, personal growth, safety (including emotional safety) and a sense of belonging. These are pivotal to the caregiver experience.

The nature of care work, marked by its emotional and physical demands, makes addressing these soft needs not just beneficial but essential. It’s about shifting the focus from what caregivers get to how they feel, ensuring their work environment supports not only their professional growth but also their personal well-being.

Many care workers complain of stress, burnout and isolation. In these instances, their soft needs might be wellness, life balance and a sense of community. Investing more in these solutions will have a greater impact than simply offering more financial incentives. Consider providing support systems for emotional health, acknowledging the stressful aspects of the job and offering resources to help manage these pressures. You can also create opportunities for professional development, fostering an environment where feedback is both given and received with respect and ensuring that caregivers feel heard, seen and invested in.

By focusing on these areas, you can significantly elevate the care worker experience, making your company a more attractive place to work. Pay your workers fairly—but work to elevate their emotional experience, as well.

3. Create a community.

The nature of care work can inherently lead to feelings of isolation and detachment from your organization and from fellow caregivers. This separation challenges the development of a cohesive company culture and a sense of belonging among workers. To bridge this gap, homecare companies need to be proactive in fostering a community spirit and building a culture that resonates with the values and needs of their caregivers.

This can be achieved through regular, structured opportunities for caregivers to connect with one another and the broader organization, such as virtual meetups, team-building exercises and peer support groups. Encouraging open communication through forums where caregivers can share their experiences, challenges and successes can also play a crucial role in creating a supportive network. Additionally, recognizing and celebrating the achievements of caregivers, providing professional development opportunities and ensuring they have a voice in decision-making processes can further cement their sense of belonging and commitment to the company’s culture. 

By implementing these strategies, homecare companies can create an inclusive environment where caregivers feel valued, supported and part of a unified community, despite the physical distances that may exist between them.

How to Become the Employer of Choice

The journey to becoming the employer of choice is not necessarily about having the most resources; it’s about being the most resourceful and leveraging what you must to create an environment that speaks to the hearts of caregivers, making them feel valued, supported and connected. This approach not only benefits the caregivers themselves but also enhances the quality of care provided to clients, ultimately contributing 
to the success and reputation of 
the brand.

The statement, “We’ve got the clients. What we need are the caregivers,” serves as a reminder of the critical role caregivers play in the homecare sector. Ideally, the focus of your company should be on caregiving, not on recruitment. Your workers will provide the best care when they feel most cared about. So, make them feel special. Address their soft needs. Give them a sense of community. Be known as the company that also provides the best care to caregivers. In the war for workers, that’s the most potent weapon in your arsenal.

Scott Greenberg is a business speaker, writer and coach who helps leaders and teams perform at a higher level. His new book is entitled “Stop The Shift Show: Turn Your Struggling Hourly Workers into a Top-Performing Team.” Visit scottgreenberg.com.