It’s October, with Halloween and all the chills and thrills that come with it. For most home care agencies, there’s something even more frightening than any haunt or howl – the risk of scaring away good caregivers. It’s common industry knowledge that caregiver turnover is affecting agencies of all sizes in all areas of the country. According to the 2017 Home Care Benchmarking Study, staff turnover, represented by the percent of caregivers who quit or were terminated, reached an all-time high of 65.7 percent in 2016. Pair high turnover with the caregiver shortage, and you could have a real horror show on your hands.
So what can your agency do to retain your best caregivers and avoid a nightmare? Read on for six practical ideas that can help.
- Develop a caring culture. Everyone wants to feel like a valued member of a team. It’s critical to treat employees as individuals worthy of respect instead of a means to improve your bottom line. If your agency does not have a positive culture in which employees are viewed as people with unique needs, skills, and talents, you may lose employees as they go somewhere else where they feel like more than a number.
- Be an advocate for your caregivers. The work caregivers provide is not easy. It can be physically demanding and emotionally draining. One way to honor your employees for doing the hard work that matters in the lives of others is to listen to them and advocate for their needs. Recognize that some clients (and their families) are not easy to get along with, and proactively help your employees respond to difficult clients and situations. Don’t schedule multiple demanding clients with one caregiver. Respect that some personalities just do not mesh, and arrange schedules accordingly. When a situation does arise, Arrow’s Issue Tracking System is an excellent tool that allows issues to be tracked, documented, and professionally managed so that all parties involved feel heard and respected, including your caregivers.
- Provide recognition. Do you know that the number one way caregivers prefer to be recognized for a job well done costs nothing? When Home Care Pulse interviewed thousands of employed caregivers from over 1,700 home care providers, the number one way they prefer to be recognized was, “verbal recognition from their supervisor,” according to the 2017 Home Care Benchmarking Study. Home care agency owners and operators have the power to speak positively to employees and make a huge difference in how they feel about coming to work each day.
- Encourage self-care. Caregiver and compassion fatigue is common in the home health field. When an employee reaches burnout, she is not healthy herself, nor is she likely to be patient and sensitive with her clients. Provide incentives to employees such as discounted gym memberships, invest in training for employees in the area of self-care and boundary setting, provide caregivers a paid day off to emotionally recuperate after the death of a long-time client, and ask employees for input as to what type of assignments they are interested in. If you are a small agency, you may not be able to provide a rich benefit package to all of your employees, but offering a select group of benefits that invest in the wellbeing of your staff is shown to matter to caregivers.
- Offer opportunities to learn and grow. Employees at all levels appreciate the opportunity to expand their skills, as well as have a path for advancement. When training in additional medical skills is provided as part of employment, it is a win-win: providing employees the opportunity to build new skills that can be used towards career advancement, while at the same time providing the agency’s clients more skilled care providers.
- Schedule respectfully. Employees in home care are not in a traditional nine-to-five office job. Each day, they may be expected to travel to various locations, for different periods of time, serving people with a multitude of needs. In this ever-changing environment, scheduling becomes a vital part of employee satisfaction. Manual scheduling systems often allow details to fall through the cracks. There is nothing like being scheduled at a time when you said you cannot work, being scheduled for too few or too many hours, or having your paycheck reflect inaccurate hours worked to frustrate an employee and cause her to consider quitting. The Arrow Agency Management system includes Arrow Master Schedule, a user-friendly scheduling tool that makes it easy to accommodate multiple schedules, skill sets, preferences, and more.
You work hard to find quality caregivers; don’t lose them because they fear you don’t care about their best interests. Instead, contact us to discuss how we can put systems in place to help you retain your best caregivers.