As a home care agency, you are only as good as the caregivers you employ. These critical staff people are the heart of your organization, as well as your hands and feet in the community of those you serve. So it naturally makes sense that when you find a competent and compassionate caregiver, you want to keep him or her as part of your team, serving your clients and being the caring face of your agency. Sadly, caregiver retention rates are notoriously low throughout the home care industry. It’s common for caregivers to stay with one agency for a period of time and then move on to another agency that may offer better benefits or move on to work in a new industry altogether.
Across all industries, job longevity is decreasing, with the average length of stay in a position being less than five years. Service industries like home care have the lowest tenure (2.9 years) according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016 report. Although this trend cannot completely be reversed, as some employee turnover is inevitable, there are strategies that can be put in place to help retain your best employees and maintain those friendly faces in your agency.
Strategy #1: Invest in Your Employees
The work of caregiving is not a highly compensated role, but there are numerous ways an employer can build value into a position without increasing the hourly wage. The first step in building value is to acknowledge and recognize that caregiving for the purpose of allowing individuals to remain in their own homes during their senior years is important and meaningful work. The service that caregivers provide, if done well, can give dignity, joy, relief and a sense of peace to not only the senior they are caring for, but an entire family of loved ones. When an agency can keep the purpose of their work front and center in staff communication, leadership can naturally build up a caregiver’s own sense of purpose and worth.
Other ways to contribute to your employees and build into them include:
- Make expectations clear. People appreciate knowing exactly what you expect of them and how their role impacts the greater mission.
- Give staff the tools they need to succeed. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing what needs to be done and having the desire to do a good job, but not having the support and resources to accomplish the task. Ask your employees what they need, and do your best to provide the best tools and resources.
- Provide ongoing training and personal development opportunities to instill growth in your staff and give them something to look forward to.
- Communicate change before it happens. No one likes to be caught off guard or unprepared, so when the inevitable changes are needed, introduce the new ideas, procedures and policies to your staff in a timely manner and allow them to ask questions, provide input and prepare.
Strategy #2: Provide a Culture of Respect
The important work that caregivers do is physically demanding, at times tedious, and even emotionally taxing. Because of this unique stress and pressure, it is vitally important to provide a culture of respect for employees. This means that you sincerely want to listen to caregivers’ concerns, and offer up ways for employees to communicate with management, without the fear of losing their job or experiencing other negative repercussions.
Agency owners and operators can develop a respectful culture by:
- Listening to the concerns of employees, actively asking for feedback, and taking action when issues occur.
- Providing safe working environments, even if that means letting go of a problematic client relationship, or modifying a client load to better fit the schedule and personality of a particular caregiver.
- Making sure caregivers know that the agency’s management will be their advocate in difficult client relationships.
- Instituting work/life balance to give caregivers adequate time off, a manageable client workload, and simple scheduling.
Strategy #3: Recognize Hard Work and a Job Well Done
Recognizing your employees’ hard work and dedication is a simple way to make a significant impact in the lives of your caregivers, as well as the overall workplace culture. Being generous with sincere praise and giving positive feedback for quality work will do more for your caregivers’ level of job satisfaction than anything else.
Some ways to provide recognition include:
- Personally say “thank you” often, both in person and in written communication. Highlight the specifics of what you are proud of.
- Brag about your team publically. Call out individuals and the work they have done in staff meetings, newsletters, emails and even on your website.
- Provide recognition incentives, whether it be a staff party or a financial incentive program.
- Make your feedback more positive than negative. A Harvard Business Review study shows that the ideal ratio to give feedback is 5.6 positive suggestions to 1 negative feedback.
A good caregiver is worth the effort to keep on your team. Try implementing some of these strategies in 2018 and see where your employee retention rate goes. At Arrow Solutions, we have designed our home care software system to help you attract and retain superior caregivers. Contact us and ask how we can provide you with solutions to manage and support your team of excellent caregivers.