Learn from recruiter Travis Collins what it is like to work at Cooperative Care, a worker cooperative home care agency
A huge element for success in your caregiving career is having a great team to support you in your work. You need a team who understands what your day-to-day looks like and can be there to support you when you need it. We sat down with caregiver and recruiter, Travis Collins, to get his take on what it means to work at a worker-owned home care agency.
Cooperative Care: Travis, are there any examples that you could share that you think really illustrate what it's like to work at Cooperative Care (a caregiver-owned home care agency)?
Travis Collins: I think we really stand out in the industry in how we do our scheduling.
We build our caregivers' schedules around their work-life availability. There's a huge amount of teamwork that happens to make that possible, and it's not always easy! It is an amazing team to be part of. Everyone works together and pulls more than their own weight to make sure that we have what we really strive for– satisfied clients and caregivers who really feel like part of the team.
CC: What's the one thing you want people to know about working at a worker cooperative?
TC: For me, the biggest part is it [ownership] gives you involvement in your own business.
When you are a worker-owner, it gives you a sense of pride, it gives you a sense of ownership obviously, but it also gives you a sense that you belong to something that you also help create. It's an atmosphere that you're involved in and you're responsible for. With that comes the voting rights, and if there are big changes within the cooperative, the folks that are out in the field doing the work are the ones who are making the decisions within its own walls.
Whether it is incorporating a raise across the board or how many hours we're allowing our caregivers to work and not burn themselves out, there's a huge spectrum of what that looks like.
- to have a say,
- to be heard,
- to be understood,
and to be able to change something that isn't going smoothly for the cooperative or something's not going smoothly in the field.
As an owner, I can propose an idea that I have, or suggest a solution to an issue, and know it will be heard. Rather than a chairman or a CEO making that decision, it's the workers. It is a group decision.
There is a seven-member Board of Directors here at Cooperative Care; an odd number for a good reason. There can never be a tie; a decision will come one way or the other, depending on how the Board votes. It's not up to one individual person to make large changes and decisions within our business.
This is what separates our cooperative from a franchise in-home care, or any big business in the sense of there's one or two big owners and everybody else is on the bottom of the totem pole. Even our executive director takes orders from the Board of Directors [which is elected by the member-owners]. There's not one person running the show. There's not one boss. It is worker-controlled and worker-owned.
CC: Do you talk about worker-ownership when recruiting new caregivers to Cooperative Care?
TC: I would say the opportunity to become a member-owner comes at the very end for us.
I feel it is important to share with people when they come in for an interview. But first and foremost, prospective employees want practical information like
- what we have available for hours,
- what our rate of pay is,
- what our benefits are,
- what we are willing to offer for people to come to the door.
It is a very tough market right now. I think first and foremost, you need to be competitive with wages, which we really emphasize. We explain that we reimburse mileage. We have paid travel time. There's an attendance bonus and a sign-on bonus. You know, a fair wage in this area.
That’s important to us. To be the best employer in all of the different ways.
And then there is the membership [the opportunity to become a part owner]. After ninety days– assuming no major errors or attendance issues within the probationary period– caregivers become eligible for membership. After those ninety days, we really dive deep into what membership looks like as far as coming on, and being a member-owner. And then, lastly, what the benefits of membership are as far as:
- AFLAC benefits,
- accidental insurance,
- profit sharing,
those kinds of things. They're other incentives there as well, such as Health Insurance for our full-time employees where we are paying 80% of the premiums.
There's obviously no pressure there [to become part of the worker cooperative]. If you don't want to be a member-owner, and just want to be an employee within the cooperative, that's fine too! We don't pressure anybody to do something that they don't want to be part of. So, I think there are a lot of benefits, and I don't think there are too many employees that come out of the 90 days and don't look forward to being a member-owner.
Interested in experiencing the caregiver-owner difference? Schedule an interview with Travis to learn more.