It’s no secret everyone in the healthcare industry has faced challenges over the last two years. This, at times, has been especially true for those serving our most vulnerable populations.
CCRI is a local nonprofit focused on enriching the lives and learning of people with disabilities. Currently, they support 400 people in the community. However, that is currently being done by a lot fewer people than normal. Back in March 2020, CCRI had an employee base of about 600 people. Right now, that number sits at 487 and over the course of the last two years, it dropped as low as 466.
According to CCRI Executive Director Shannon Bock, that dip in employee base was originally manageable.
“We provide support for people with disabilities and part of that is helping them get out into the community. However, when COVID hit, we had to shelter in place because things were closed. We needed to keep our population safe,” Bock said. “So, we didn’t need as many team members. About 60% of our team is college students. So, when the colleges shut down we lost more employees than we anticipated… One of the biggest mistakes we made was to stop hiring during the height of the pandemic. We weren’t hiring for three months and we should have been. It put us behind from a staffing standpoint. But in 2020, nobody knew what was going to happen.” Right now, CCRI could hire 90 to 100 part-time employees. However, they’re having a hard time finding the right people.
Bock stresses CCRI is always willing to train employees. But they have to have the right people in place. People who are willing to be trained and willing to be consistent.
“When you’re taking care of people with disabilities, you’re helping them with their most personal needs. We need people to be there on a consistent basis,” Bock explained.
They’ve had a hard time hiring full-time positions as well. “We have positions that rarely come open and when they do, normally it’s highly sought after both externally and internally and we’re usually able to fill it with internal applicants,” Bock said. “Lately, we’re even struggling to find external applicants for those roles.”
What’s the issue? That’s the million-dollar question surrounding “The Great Resignation” and nobody can say with certainty what exactly is causing the shift in employment preferences. There are, however, a number of identifiable factors.
What is CCRI (Creative Care for Reaching Independence)? CCRI is a local nonprofit that helps people with disabilities live more independent and fulfilling lives. Their team helps people by caring for them, assisting them with daily tasks, and by helping them participate in the community.
In Bock’s opinion, the current market is allowing prospective employees to be more selective, meaning they may tend to look for employment that compensates better with less responsibility.
“We’re a nonprofit that’s funded largely by the state. So, the state sets the rates for everything we can do. With that being said, over the last year, we’ve had to go above the rates the state has set in order to be competitive and still pull people in,” Bock said. “In the state of Minnesota, the average wage for caregiver positions is $14 an hour. We have stretched our budget to the max to offer a starting wage of $15 an hour. People can make up to $19 an hour depending on which sites they go to. Plus, we have a $2 an hour weekend incentive. And there are still people who don’t want these positions. However, you can work at a fast food place right now and make $17 an hour with less responsibility. Our legislature sees this discrepancy and hopefully, they do something about it.”
What’s at stake?
CCRI plays a crucial role in taking care of our community’s most vulnerable adults and children. In fact, they provide 24-hour support to 34 homes in our community. If CCRI can’t find adequate staffing, Bock says they would have to consider closing some of their homes, meaning the individuals living in those homes would be forced into different, oftentimes less accommodating, living situations.
What is CCRI doing to fight back? Since the onset of the pandemic, CCRI has attempted a number of tactics to combat “The Great Resignation” including.
• Selling their culture – According to Bock, “Once CCRI gets people in the door, they usually stay. We’re really like a second family for people. We try to be very approachable, especially in our leadership. We value our employees and we try to show that as best we can.”
• Increased pay – Bock and the CCRI team have already upped their pay beyond what was originally allotted by the state’s legislature. And they want to do more and are working with legislators to get that done.
• Gift cards! – Who doesn’t love gift cards? CCRI has started to give them out as a way to show appreciation to employees for their efforts. They’ve been giving out $5, $10, $20 and $50 gift cards for things like grocery stores, gas stations, and Target.
• A referral program – CCRI’s biggest source of applicants is employee referrals. If a current employee refers someone who gets hired, they get a $1000 bonus! New team members also get a $1000 bonus.
What can you do to help?
As a nonprofit, CCRI relies heavily on donations to fulfill their mission and they are always looking for more help in recruiting and retaining quality employees.
They also offer volunteer opportunities for those interested in giving of their time.
To learn more, visit CCRIMoorhead.org.