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08 Sep 2022
by Elizabeth Howlett

How Elder improved attrition with previously unavailable benefits

Peter Dowds, chief executive and founder of care provider Elder, describes how it is using employee benefits to attract and retain talent

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Providing benefits that attract and retain talent in a high turnover industry such as the care sector, where workers are both self-employed and full-time employees, is a challenging task. But Peter Dowds, chief executive and founder of Elder, noticed a gap in the industry for benefits and tailored his offering for Elder’s 5,000 self-employed carers and 150 employees. 

“The care industry is highly skilled but it’s been left with a minimum wage, very commoditised one-size-fits-all approach, and carers rarely get rewarded for progression, ability or tenure. That’s what we had our eyes on to address.” 

In September 2021, Dowds created a three-tiered proposition which allowed his workforce progression in pay, either in weekly rate or bonuses, and also in benefits. “We partnered with a company that allows us to provide portable benefits for self-employed workers, but still enables them access to wellbeing benefits such as health insurance and dental cover. 

“We also provide them with smaller things like phone insurance, so it makes it a more attractive proposition to come into and stay for the duration,” he says. 

The system also allows people to move through the tiers, but Dowds is excited by how people leverage those benefits. “The benefits are all accessed through our Elder Hub app which has a high take-up of 85%. This is good, because sometimes you set benefits up but people don't engage with them."

Elder’s benefit design put its carers at the forefront of decision making. “We listened to our carers,” said Dowds. “We did lots of work with them, and they helped design it. It’s not an easy job and has historically been unrewarded [in terms of benefits].” 

By adding in services that are usually hard to access for carers, such as mental health support, accidental sickness benefits, family friendly benefits, digital GP services and compassionate leave benefits, Dowds has seen marked improvements. 

“Carers can’t really get those types of benefits which are usually marked for white collar work, so that has been a big step forward,” he says. “The way I measure the success of these benefits is by how many applications we are getting from new carers, and in the last 10 months that number has increased by 150%. And that’s in the face of a care sector that is actually going backwards in terms of recruitment and turnover is increasing.” 

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