According to the 2016 Home Care Benchmarking Study, caregiver shortage is the number one threat to the growth of individual home care agencies. The antidote? Increased caregiver retention. It’s that simple, and that complicated. If caregiver retention is something your business struggles with, you’re at a competitive disadvantage to those home care providers who don’t struggle with caregiver shortages or staffing, so how do you keep your caregivers happy and on your payroll?
How to Increase Caregiver Retention for Your Home Care Business
1. Recruit with a Purpose
The key word in that phrase is “purpose.” Many home care providers recruit haphazardly, accepting caregivers with the minimal requirements not thinking long term or how they will fit into the company culture. It’s time to proactively find the best caregivers, and stop being in reactive mode when it comes to recruiting.
When recruiting, begin by analyzing the traits, characteristics, and attributes of your best caregivers. Once you’ve created a profile for your potential caregivers, create an advertisement that is centered around those ideal characteristics.
2. Screen and Hire
One way to effectively screen and hire caregivers is to hold an open house. It can be hard to balance working and hiring, holding an open house is one way to improve that balance. Once a month (or as necessary), hold all your caregiver interviews and invite caregivers to come to your agency and submit an application. This will help deter caregivers from walking into your home office seeking an interview, and it will help you from spontaneously hiring them because you’re caught off guard or desperate for help. An open house makes better use of your time and your teams, resulting in improved productivity and hiring more quality caregivers. Below are a few tips to help this process go smoothly:
- Provide print applications for walk-in applicants to fill out and also post applications on your website.
- Perform online pre-employment screening. If you have the space and means, provide one to two computers dedicated for pre-employment screening. This will help you in the hiring process to know if this caregiver is worth bring back for an interview, and if they are, what questions to ask. The assessment isn’t perfect, but you want an idea of who they are—what they struggle with and where they excel to help you know if they fit your ideal caregiver. The Caregiver Quality Assurance program is a great tool for pre-employment screening.
- Perform background checks. Caregiver orientation does not occur until you receive these back. Keep the reputation of the industry at a high level by performing back ground checks on all your caregivers.
3. Listen and Respond to Your Caregivers
The power of caregiver perceptions can make or break your caregiver recruitment and retention efforts. You only have one chance to make a good first impression, so you want to make sure it’s a positive one. Whether they hear about your agency from a fellow caregiver or an online review, you want to make sure a caregiver’s perception of your agency is in your favor. If it isn’t, their perception may deduce things about your business that is not true. Take the time to focus on what your caregivers think of your agency, whether it’s true or not.
Listed below are five ways to listen and respond to clients to improve their overall satisfaction:
- Effectively capture and measure satisfaction. This can be done through our Satisfaction Management Program or through your own efforts.
- Understand what the caregiver satisfaction data is saying and make appropriate changes.
- Hold monthly quality satisfaction meeting that involve your team. If you, as the owner, are the only person to know what the satisfaction reports are saying, you become very limited in your ability to improve the quality of your agency and how you market quality care. Review reports as a team, and decide what actions to take as a team.
- Be transparent—let your caregivers know what you are doing with their feedback. Keep your caregivers informed. If they’re giving you ideas, make sure you’re implementing those ideas and telling them how you’ll implement them. One way to get feedback is to have an “idea box” where they can submit suggestions for improvement, and pick one idea every month to implement.
- Be patient—quality improvement takes time and is not a one-time event. As you’re responding, don’t expect the satisfaction levels to change overnight. Caregivers have to know you’re really going to change, and that it’s going to stick. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results, their satisfaction will change as you’re consistent and continually try to improve.
4. Recognize and Reward
Caregivers want to be told “job well done.” Whether that’s through a pay raise or a handwritten note, employees respond well to the validation that their hard work is not going unnoticed. Take the time to create a reward program for your caregivers, and you will find they are more satisfied and will stay longer with your agency.
This caregiver retention program is not a one-size-fits-all. What works best for you may not work best for someone else, but knowing where to start and how to make changes to your strategy is essential to the growth of your home care business.