In this Q&A, Inside Ageing (IA) spoke with Sidekicker’s co-founder Jacqui Bull about their efforts to help the aged care sector find and retain workers.
IA: Congratulations on securing a further $20m investment from Seek, which I believe will be used to focus on aged care. When our news team read about this we wanted to get in touch with you given workforce and shortages are significant issues for aged care providers. Is there a particular area you will focus on first such as residential aged care or home care?
Jacqui: Thank you! Sidekicker has been strongly focused on residential aged care since our Queensland launch in 2019, which covers our core hubs of Brisbane and the Gold Coast. We have been fortunate to partner with providers that have embraced our platform and who have benefited from the efficiencies it brings to managing their casual workforce. With this new investment, our main priority is broadening our service, which means attracting and retaining a high-quality aged care workforce, whilst rolling out our offering to facilities in New South Wales and Victoria. Once we have wider coverage nationally, we will look to move into the home and acute care sectors.
IA: You have already had successes in helping other sectors such as hospitality to secure workers, especially temp and casual staff. Do you think aged care will be a similar market to crack or are you taking a different approach?
Jacqui: That’s correct, we’ve been providing temp and casual staff to the hospitality and white-collar sectors for a number of years now, during this time we have heavily invested in our technology and team to create a recruitment process that allows us to quickly onboard large numbers of best-in-class workers whilst guaranteeing compliance. Similar to our approach in hospitality and white-collar, our strategy for expanding our age care offering is to work with aged care homes in the same area and build a pool of nurses that live locally. Once we have a good balance of workers and homes in an area, we focus on building our marketplace in the next area.
We’ll apply our learnings to the aged care sector, however, due to the staff shortages in the space, pre-employment checks and extensive certificate requirements from workers, we will need to further optimise our process and strategy to attract the best workers to Sidekicker. To be able to effectively manage the necessary checks and additional onboarding work required for the aged care sector, we plan to invest further into our product and take additional steps to establish ourselves as an employer of choice for workers.
IA: Does your tie-up with Seek give you some unique abilities to match workers and employers? If, so can you share a little bit more on how this might work?
Jacqui: SEEK Investments has been a major investor in Sidekicker over the long term as they believe in our mission to shape a better way for casual and temporary labour hire. The unique value Seek Investments provides Sidekicker is their industry expertise and their shared commitment to building a business for the long term. The Sidekicker Platform is separate to SEEK, however, the funding from SEEK Investments will allow us to improve our ability to supply our clients with large volumes of labour and equally importantly scale our services and coverage quickly.
IA: A recent report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) indicated that staff shortages in aged care have doubled from 17,000 to 35,000 in less than a year. These are sobering statistics that either suggest an enormous opportunity for businesses such as yours or it might just make your entry to the market nigh impossible. What’s your read on these numbers and what it might mean for Sidekicker?
Our Head of Healthcare Mitch Jackson is looking after over 100 facilities across Queensland and Victoria. Our experience with these facilities is that staff shortages are impacting both residents and the workers providing care. From the daily feedback we are receiving, our technology puts us in a unique position to provide quick time-to-fill and strong fulfilment rates to counteract the impacts of COVID-19 outbreaks, absenteeism due to flu, and staff burnout. Aged Care providers have the ability with Sidekicker to control and flex up their workforce quickly without impacting residents’ level of care.
With such high worker demand and decreasing numbers of supply, we have made the decision to establish ourselves as an employer of choice for workers. Some steps we have taken to do this are paying our staff 15% above the award rate, providing flexibility to choose when and where they work and continued investment in our workers’ learning and development including free aged care courses and training.
IA: Tell us a little bit about your technology and how it can make hiring easier for aged care providers, including access to ‘talent pools’ where providers can re-hire the same ‘good’ people over and over again.
Jacqui: Our technology has been helping clients in this sector navigate through the impacts of Covid-19, supporting them with high-quality, pre-vetted casual staff. The platform allows providers to request workers online within 30 seconds, be instantly matched to the highest quality workers, have complete visibility of applicants’ profiles including experience, certificates and ratings, and then finally, gives users complete control to select the right workers for them.
Our easy-to-use platform has the functionality for facilities to create talent pools of standout workers. Available shifts can then be directly posted to this talent pool, increasing workers returning to the same sites and improving continuity of care for residents and minimising time lost inducting workers. At the completion of each shift, requesters have the ability to rate and review workers driving worker performance and accountability.
Additional platform functionality:
● Online recruitment processes to improve candidate quality and speed to hire
● 24hr Online ordering and staff selection to streamline processes and improve retention
● Large pool of pre-approved workers, facilitating significant supply flexibility
● Superior worker experience (transparency, control, support)
● Online timesheeting to enable a better experience and instant invoicing
● Digital compliance and records management to ensure best-in-class compliance and governance (supported by HR, Compliance and Safety teams)
● Online reporting to deliver visibility and insight into your staffing operation
IA: How does your fee structure work?
Jacqui: As the employer of record for all Sidekicker workers, our transparent fee structure is a percentage margin of the workers’ pay rate, superannuation and insurance costs. We find this fee structure favourable for providers when compared to the cost of attracting staff in the sector, factoring in advertising costs and time spent recruiting/training. We handle all payroll commitments in addition to performance and incident management for our workers. One of the most useful attributes of the platform is that businesses can see a full breakdown of costs before a shift is posted.
IA: Thank you, Jacqui – how can aged care providers get started using your service?