Recognizing your caregivers doesn’t always have to cost you money. Learn how to recognize your caregivers in a way that resonates with them and see an 80% increase in employee loyalty.
When I was interviewed to work for Home Care Pulse, they asked me how I preferred to receive recognition at work in terms of the “5 Love Languages.” Until my employer asked how they could fulfill my needs, I realized I had no idea what I needed to feel validated in my work and was unintentionally setting myself up for job dissatisfaction.
In 1992, Dr. Gary Chapman noticed a pattern of miscommunication after practicing couples’ counselling for years. He discovered that individuals often misunderstand one another’s needs by communicating how they would personally like to receive recognition, without taking the others’ needs into consideration. He concluded that how we respond to appreciation boils down to one of five categories.
One of the top caregiver complaints is their employer’s lack of communication. While everyone communicates in their own way, if you don’t know the language your caregivers will listen to, your recognition efforts are going to waste.
Learn how to speak your caregivers’ language of appreciation to increase caregiver retention, refine your leadership skills, and foster a culture of recognition:
Using Your Core Values to Create a Culture of Recognition
Become Fluent in Caring for Your Caregivers
Using Your Core Values to Create a Culture of Recognition
Your company’s core values should be just that: at the core of everything you do! Centering your recognition program around your company’s core values provides your employees with a consistent benchmark to measure their performance.
At Home Care Pulse, we hire, fire, review, and reward our employees based on their ability to exemplify our core values. To keep our core values top of mind, we found that sometimes all you need is a ninja or dinosaur figurine to help everyone feel valued in your agency.
Let me explain.
During the startup of Home Care Pulse, when an employee wanted to recognize a coworker for exemplifying a core value, they could choose a figurine from a basket in the office to give away as a symbol of recognition. The employee with a figurine could then bring it to the monthly leadership meeting and be publicly awarded with a certificate for contributing to the mission of Home Care Pulse.
When we moved to remote work, we needed a more mobile-friendly recognition system. We now use Bonusly, an online point system where employees can allot points to coworkers who exemplified a core value that can later be traded for company swag, gift cards, or PayPal transfers.
While the method may vary, the principle is the same: your core values should be at the heart of employee recognition. But to create a culture of recognition, you shouldn’t be the only one recognizing your employees.
A strong culture of recognition:
Involves and encourages all employees to recognize and appreciate their fellow colleagues
Lays the foundation for a strong employer brand to set you apart in a competitive job market
Improves caregiver retention
Builds leadership skills throughout the company
Experiment implementing a recognition program that works for your agency to knit a culture of recognition throughout every fiber of your organization.
Words of Affirmation
I appreciate you. We couldn’t have done it without your help. Your skills are an irreplaceable asset to the team. No matter how you choose to say thank you, your caregivers are starving for it.
Caregivers ranked verbal recognition by a supervisor as their number one preferred form of recognition—and lack of communication from their employer as their top complaint. If Mark Twain could live for two months on a compliment, imagine what a simple thank you note every now and then could inspire your caregivers to do.
If you’ve ever felt unmotivated to complete a task because you knew no one would notice if you did, there’s science behind this mentality. Contrary to popular belief, our brains don’t just release dopamine after we receive a positive outcome, but rather in the anticipation of it, making dopamine the ultimate motivator. If your employees know they will be noticed and praised for their good efforts, their minds will naturally encourage them to perform and repeat the behavior that produces positive outcomes.
Actively seek out reasons you can praise your caregivers to boost company morale and foster a culture of gratitude:
Express ways your caregivers are excelling at their job while looking them in the eye (in person or via video call)
Send handwritten thank you cards
Give a quick telephone call or text message
Recognize top performers using an employee of the month program to give everyone a chance to be in the spotlight
Give your caregivers a shoutout in company newsletters or on social media
Mean what you say by using the following formula for expressing a sincere thank you: use specific examples, describe how it benefitted you or others, express your heartfelt appreciation
Words of affirmation are so easy to give that they are often taken for granted! You’ll notice that while praising your caregivers for their performance won’t cost you a cent, the effects of a well-timed thank you can be priceless.
It’s called show and tell for a reason! While everyone loves hearing how well they are doing, employees want to see the proof that backs up what their employers are saying.
While a raise may be outside of the company budget, 20.4% of caregivers mentioned smaller forms of monetary recognition as their chosen form of acknowledgement. Small bonuses for top performers, extra vacation time, or gift cards are simple forms of appreciation. These tiny perks become physical reminders of an employer’s gratitude for a job well done.
Here are a few gift ideas to help your caregivers see the proof behind the praise:
Give a gift card; over 90% of home care agencies give this form of recognition!
Switch it up with free movie tickets to show your employees that you hope they take time to have fun outside of work hours.
Offer pay raises and bonuses to show you are ready to invest in your caregivers who perform well.
Offer paid vacation time to allow your employees a chance to recharge.
Establish a reward system, as explained earlier, where employees can choose to redeem their points as they please.
Give employees a sense of identity by issuing them branded company clothing.
At the end of the day, employees want to receive gifts because they want to see that they are worth the thought and effort behind the gift. Allocating some of your company finances to incentivize your employees will be a long-term investment resulting in caregivers who feel seen and valued.
Acts of Service
A caregiver’s occupation is to literally provide service to those in need—but have you ever thought of ways to serve your caregivers?
Serving others means voluntarily lifting the burdens from another’s shoulders. Although it may seem counterintuitive to serve in a workplace where employees are paid, you can offer your caregivers the relief that they need by helping to shoulder some of their responsibilities:
Take extra care to make sure their requested time off is honored and scheduled.
Remember their birthday by doing something to make their workload a little more cheerful and easier that day.
Go the extra mile to make them smile by hosting random appreciation events where you can offer the company donuts, coffee, or even turkeys on Thanksgiving.
Listen to how you can make their daily tasks or commute a little easier.
Volunteer to assist them with a task or allow them to go home early when the situation permits.
Most of the time, actions speak louder than words. Service in the workplace shows that you respect your caregivers’ time and efforts. Going out of your way to make your employees’ lives a little easier will demonstrate that your agency prioritizes treating everyone as they would like to be treated.
Physical Touch, Or Rather, How they Touch the Lives of Others
This love language applies a little differently in the workplace. This is your opportunity to show your caregivers how they touch the lives of their clients and the impact they have on others’ lives.
Using this love language in home care means collecting real client feedback to show your caregivers appreciation straight from the source. Oftentimes, your caregivers just need to know the difference they are making in a family’s life and know that their daily efforts aren’t going unnoticed or underappreciated.
It is also important to recognize the physical signs of distress that your caregivers may be displaying by being aware of the challenges they face. You can combat caregiver fatigue by encouraging time off for mental health days and establishing that your employees should be taking care of themselves first.
Our research shows that since the pandemic, caregivers have been feeling left on their own and lonely. Your caregivers may hardly see the office anymore and receive little social interaction with people other than their clients.
This is why giving undivided attention to your caregivers and taking time to address their needs is more important now than ever.
Consciously create opportunities to spend quality time with your caregivers:
Hold group training events to create an environment where caregivers can ask questions and learn from fellow coworkers.
Hold recognition lunches for caregivers to get together in a relaxed setting and build company unity.
Throw holiday parties (where family members are invited) to build a community within your agency and help your caregivers see that they belong in your .
Schedule one-on-one meetings or lunches to build individual relationships with your caregivers and check in on how they are doing.
Discuss your caregivers’ goals and needs, since 94% of employees would stay with a company longer if they felt their learning and development was encouraged.
Bonus: the more time you spend with your caregivers, the more fluent you will become in learning and speaking their language.
Become Fluent in Caring for Your Caregivers
When conducting your next caregiver interview, ask your applicants how they prefer to receive recognition to start seeing substantial improvements in your company culture. Not only will you be positioning yourself as an agency who cares about their employees, you’ll offer them an opportunity to reflect on and communicate what they need from you.
Even before your next new hire, you can take the guesswork out of what your caregivers respond best to. Learn what your caregivers really need to feel appreciated.
Brightstar Care did just that: they used real-time recognition to retain 86% of their employees in their first six months by creating the exact culture their caregivers were looking for.
Let us know what ideas we missed below! What other ways do you recognize your caregivers?