Despite the fluctuating challenges wrought by the pandemic, the biggest ongoing issue for home care agencies is caregiver churn. Here’s how technology can help.
Note: The terms ‘turnover’ and ‘churn’ are often used interchangeably. While our typical terminology uses turnover, this article uses churn. In this context, the two are synonymous.
Despite the fluctuating challenges wrought by the pandemic, the biggest ongoing issue for home care agencies is caregiver churn. Retaining these skilled employees who are in high demand has for years been a serious roadblock to growth and efficient operations.
Earlier this year, our team commissioned an employee retention survey whose results spoke volumes about this problem. Eight out of 10 respondents said that churn disrupts their bottom lines – and about 60 percent wanted to implement solutions to directly address this challenge. The majority reported that COVID-19 worsened churn overall.
The impact of churn runs deep in home care. On one hand, it can cause staff shortages that force agencies to turn away potential clients while trying to manage current clients as best as possible. Churn can itself directly derail client satisfaction by eroding consistent caregivers and potentially missed visits. Operationally, it leads to greater time spent hiring, onboarding, and training new caregivers. And it is headache-inducing for schedulers who can find themselves scrambling at the last minute or reshuffling plans that were strategized and set for the next few months.
For any provider, a stable workforce goes a long way. The importance of retaining caregivers has led agencies to focus on strengthening their employee experience, optimized scheduling to the preferences of caregivers, alleviating administrative tasks, bolstering their training programs, and turning to data to identify current and future problems or needs of employees.
Amidst all this comes a key question in addressing the multi-dimensional costs of turnover: can agencies identify caregivers at higher risk of leaving? The answer is yes, and the vehicle to do so is through technology.
Identifying caregivers at risk of churn
It’s easy to wish for a crystal ball to predict when a caregiver is about to leave. Yet the reality is, that predictability already exists through data – with the right system in place, agencies can uncover a wide swath of trends in a caregiver’s performance and behaviors that can help agencies get ahead of impending problems.
That begins from the moment they join an organization. During the hiring process, for example, a gap in time between getting hired and getting assigned a first shift causes an uptick in churn. Software can reveal what each caregiver is doing in the first 30 or 60 days, making it easy to track how quickly they’re being onboarded, trained, and assigned shifts.
Software with built-in, always-on retention dashboards help agencies manage limited personnel resources and identify retention risk in order to intervene before an employee departs. Indeed, such software can provide all the necessary data needed to predict a caregiver’s satisfaction levels, providing insight into questions such as:
Are they getting enough hours?
Is this enough to warrant full-time status?
Are they earning enough quality shifts?
Are they traveling too much?
Are they performing the services aligned with their skills?
By using advanced algorithms and models, these answers can show up in actionable data, revealing trends that show how satisfied each caregiver likely is. No longer will a caregiver go too long without a shift without anyone realizing it – because their satisfaction score would be immediately visible as low.
If you have long-term caregivers on staff, they can be a good predictor of success in terms of how others should be treated and deployed. What’s worked well in the past can be a harbinger for future hires.
Integracare is one such agency that has been able to leverage employee satisfaction data to uncover meaningful results. By measuring retention data and business performance, Integracare is able to analyze how it’s performing around its retention metrics, and its coordinators have been empowered to be much more retention-driven.
In fact, according to Lee Grunberg, President & CEO at Integracare, dashboard metrics have improved overall employee satisfaction by 30 percent. Coordinators have been able to use the data to identify caregivers that would have become dissatisfied and execute intervention strategies, which moved 22 percent of high-risk employees to ‘green,’ or engaged, status within a month.
More strategies to retain skilled employees
Focus on the employee experience in order to alleviate the threat of churn. Here are some sound steps to that end:
Nail the hiring process: Give timely responses and friendly engagement to any and all job seekers, because word of mouth travels at warp speed in this industry. Dedicate time to standardizing an efficient hiring process – even a few days makes an agency more competitive while getting job seekers shifts faster.
Get digital with onboarding and training: Audit your current training sessions and meetings for new hires and other steps, including any elements that may be overlooked in the onboarding program. A guided experience for a new caregiver, combining virtual options that are easy and efficient with in-person connections can ensure they feel welcomed and valued.
Treat each person individually: Even for large agencies with a deep personnel roster, focusing on each caregiver at a personal level goes a long way to make them feel like an important cog in the machine. Acknowledge that your staff has diverse points of view – and any attempts to build a foundation of showing appreciation, respect, understanding, and support are very worthwhile. The key is to listen to any and all feedback and take action where needed. Caregivers who feel heard are more likely to stay loyal.
Take Your Clients from Satisfied to Loyal
Measure and improve client/caregiver loyalty, learn where you can improve, and boost retention across the board—while saving time for you and your team
Optimize scheduling: We all know the importance of schedules to caregivers. Route and scheduling software that empowers caregivers to reduce travel time is now almost a must-have. A system that sends notifications straight to mobile apps held by each caregiver enables them to receive and accept shift offers at any time. The key is giving them as much flexibility as possible to boost their satisfaction.
Go mobile for mobile workers: An app allows caregivers to view and update files from anywhere. They can get alerts if a client’s status and shift offer notifications for vacant visits. They can access portals to communicate with clients more easily. Give them visibility into all client’s information and status before any visit, which empowers them to deliver better care and have a better experience.
Borrow from others: The most successful companies are always searching, learning. It never hurts to research other organizations or even other industries entirely to see who is achieving success in employee retention. What innovative partnerships are they pursuing to, for instance, improve training and skills development?
Cut the churn and stay competitive
Your caregivers are arguably your most important asset. In serving their clients, they carry an agency’s reputation on the ground. By taking care of them, agencies take care of their business – and ultimately, ensuring better outcomes for their clients.