‘What shift?’ HME industry divided over role of young professionals

Friday, July 21, 2017

YARMOUTH, Maine – The VGM Group gave a nod to young professionals when it hosted a meet-up for the HME Young Professionals Group at the Heartland Conference in June, but it turns out the HME industry is still very much gray.

The majority of the respondents to a recent HME Newspoll (54%) say they’re not experiencing a shift to a younger workforce.

“We have more over 65 than under 40,” wrote one respondent. “What shift?”

The majority of respondents (46%) to the poll say they only have one to five employees under 40. Five percent say they have none.

Young professionals, who are more likely not to have experience in the HME industry, can detract or add to a business, depending on the respondent, according to the poll.

“Unfortunately, we can’t afford to spend time training inexperienced staff,” wrote on respondent. “There is way too much to learn. I myself started at a young age with no experience, but that was a different time.”

On the other hand, “While experience is valuable, there are so many changes to the way we do things from five years ago that we are finding it easier to train someone with no experience,” wrote another respondent.

For the 38% percent of respondents who say they have 10 or more employees under 40, that inexperience means a fresh perspective.

“We look forward to hiring young team members,” wrote one respondent. “Most of them are not aware of what’s happened over the past 10 years in the HME industry and, therefore, they bring a welcomed attitude to our workforce.”

Other benefits of a younger workforce, respondents say: more affordable health insurance for those companies that offer it to their employees, and a higher level of tech-savviness. Detriments: less work ethic and more turnover, they say.

“Average length of employment for the younger population is two years or less,” wrote one respondent.

At some point, however, as a big portion of the workforce retires, HME companies will increasingly have to look to younger professionals. That will be a sad day, one respondent says.

“I feel that we are losing a lot of knowledge from our more senior employee base,” wrote the respondent.