Tampa Bay Business Journal Feature Article- People company keeps itself populated

LARGO — Hiring is almost constant at Bayshore Health & Homemaker Services.

It’s a fact of life in Florida’s highly competitive home care industry in which businesses draw from the same pool of potential employees, particularly the ranks of good certified nursing assistants.

A key to Bayshore’s growth is its strategy to reduce turnover and instill loyalty in its employees who are the faces of the company in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

“Recruiting is a constant thing for us,” said Suzanne Johnson, who with her brother Todd Atkinson, owns the company.

“It’s a challenge to build employee loyalty when there is so much competition. I think holding our employees to a higher standard helps rather than hurts.”

The company has five area offices. Its 200 employees include field nurses, home health aides and administrative staff.

Keeping it fresh

Bayshore integrated some new tools this past year to raise the level of hiring practices and reduce the turnover rate.

The company implemented lunch and learn programs to help with re-education, compliance and motivation. It put hiring decisions in the hands of managers, instituted an occupational assessment test for new management staff and now celebrates employee birthdays.

Some of the practices help create an appreciative and family atmosphere, which is natural since the company is family-owned. Bayshore’s turnover rate has dropped from around 50 percent to 35 percent.

Among the main sources of potential employees are the certified nursing assistant training programs offered by the American Red Cross, Johnson said.

The agency has one of the oldest, lowest-cost certified nursing assistant programs, according toPeggy Kirk, director of nurse assistant education in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough.

She has met with Bayshore’s owners and would recommend the company to students who might be looking for a job.

“They are a company that strives to provide better service,” Kirk said. “They’re a company I would be glad to work for.”

Bayshore also recruits from AARP retraining programs to find employees to provide clients with home companionship and services such as cooking.

The company offers homemaker/companion services, nurse advocate services, geriatric care management and home health care.

Home care is Bayshore’s largest market segment and consists of mainly private pay clients, Johnson said.

“We pick up where Medicare stops and allow people to age in place at home,” she said. “We are seeing more and more long-term care insurance.”

One thing Johnson believes sets Bayshore apart from most similar businesses is the company’s a staff of 10 full-time registered nurses to train and supervise the certified nursing assistants in the field.

Bringing the backgrounds

Johnson and her brother self-financed a buy-in into the business their parents started and then took over.

They are very “hands-on” in managing the company, she said.

Johnson has a business degree in management and marketing, and Atkinson has a degree in finance.

As owners, the partners can make company decisions quickly, which is an advantage, she said.

One of Bayshore’s biggest hurdles is understanding and complying with ever-changing regulations.

“We’re state-licensed so it seems there’s always a new set of hoops to jump through,” Johnson said. “ A lot of times this has involved high cost.”

The company’s greatest overhead is the cost of workers compensation and liability insurance, and Bayshore focuses on reducing compensation claims, she said.

Bayshore’s strategy keeps its book of business growing as does the area’s aging population. It makes the company a target for acquisition.

“We get offers all the time,” Johnson said