What Benefits Should You Be Offering Your Home Care Agency’s Employees’?
Recruitment and retention are especially difficult right now. Make sure you are keeping your staff happy and engaged with well-thought-out benefits that take your agency to the next level.
If you’re like most agency owners, the last six months have only made your existing staffing challenges even worse. While we might sound like a broken record, the more you reflect on what plays into recruiting and retention (like a benefits package), the better off your agency will be.
COVID-19 has changed a lot of aspects of home care. The standard of care looks drastically different than before. Not only does it include PPE, new operating protocols, and enhanced training for caregivers, but increased recruitment challenges mean it’s even more important to use every tool at your disposal to attract and retain the right caregivers.
It’s possible that caregivers (and in some cases, even office staff) will be making more money on unemployment. Make sure you are incentivizing them to provide care rather than go the opposite route.
Caregivers are not only a lifeline for clients, but they are also a lifeline for your home care agency. That’s why caregivers need better advocacy efforts during the pandemic through enhanced pay, and better benefits like paid sick leave, childcare assistance, and adequate PPE.
Times are tougher than ever right now for some home care agencies, and while we know that the already small margins don’t always allow for sweeping changes to benefits, it’s important to make sure you are doing all you can to hire the right staff.
The benefit of benefits
Expanding the spectrum of your benefits package can create a huge shift in the daily and long-term operations of your organization. For starters, it usually leads to increased productivity, less turnover and more retention, and a better outward appearance that entices potential recruits.
Let your benefits package speak for itself while becoming an extension of the great atmosphere you’ve created for your home care agency.
Incentivizing employees usually helps them to become more involved in day to day operations while being more invested in their work.
Here are a few of the ways in which we’ve seen benefit packages help home care agencies.
Improved company culture
Benefits packages can play a big role in company culture by encouraging positivity throughout the agency. Enthusiastic employees lead to better performance across the board. Company culture dictates every aspect of your home care agency, including reviews, client satisfaction, productivity, and more.
At Home Care Pulse, we use an internal recognition system called Bonusly. Bonusly allows team members to recognize each other’s work based on the core values of the company. Team members give each other recognition points when they see each other do something that exemplifies our core values; the points accrue over time and can be redeemed for anything from Amazon gift cards to money that gets donated to a favorite charity. While it may not be as conducive to employees like caregivers who rarely interact with other employees, it could be an interesting concept to implement with your office staff.
Employee benefits can play a huge role in whether a candidate accepts or turns down a position. Not only will it help you get more applicants in general, but usually, you’ll find that you can be more selective about the type of person you are trying to higher to best represent your agency.
Some agency owners have also reported that as they’ve focused more on building a strong brand (benefits included), their cost-per-hire has gone down because their brand model is doing some of the work for them.
Some specific benefits that lead to increased productivity can include remote work for office staff, paid time off, learning opportunities, and flexibility.
Giving your office staff freedom in their work (where possible) can lead to better communication and innovation. No one likes to have employers that are continually watching and evaluating their every move.
Less turnover and higher retention
The simple fact is, the more satisfied your employee are, the more likely they will be to stay. Offering standard pay nowadays isn’t enough to motivate people to keep working for you. If you can offer the right benefits, your company will be able to hold onto good talent and even attract new talent.
What the law requires
No matter the type of organization you run, there are a few benefits that you must provide employees according to federal law. States can also have their own individual benefit requirements so make sure to check if you are compliant. According to PayChex, federal requirements include:
What employee benefits should you offer?
The opportunities for employee benefits are endless. There’s plenty of room to get creative and craft incentives specifically for your staff. However, across the industry, there are some that we would recommend considering in order to stay competitive with what other agencies are offering.
In the 2020 Home Care Benchmarking Study, we surveyed home care agencies to find out what benefits they are currently offering caregivers and office staff. Here are the results based upon revenue.
Improving your benefits package
When you create a new benefit, make sure the information is relayed onto your employees. If anyone is out of the loop and not taking advantage of what you’re offering, you could be losing money in the long run.
In order to do this, you’ll want to establish a proper plan to educate employees. This should be done regularly through multiple touchpoints, including the onboarding process, employee newsletters, regular communication from supervisors, and whatever other channels your agency uses.
Over time, you’ll also want to evaluate your benefits package to see what has been beneficial and what hasn’t. Is there a benefit that hasn’t been used by a majority of employees? It’s possible that you could eliminate it for the next year and add something that would be more engaging.
Understand what your caregivers want
One of the top complaints from caregivers in 2019 was the lack of benefits provided to them. Caregivers mentioned wanting more benefits for two reasons: helping to cover their living costs (for instance, health insurance), and rewarding them for their hard work (merit bonuses or rewards programs).
It’s obvious that caregivers want to be recognized. The question is: How?
To learn the needs of your care team, make sure you are surveying your caregivers and office staff to know exactly what they are looking for. The needs of every care team are different, so evaluate them up-front. The cost of adding benefits to your employment package will also be expensive, so avoiding any unnecessary costs is another critical consideration.
Caregiver surveys are a convenient way to learn what is and isn’t important to your caregivers. At Home Care Pulse, we conduct client and caregiver surveys to help you measure and enhance client/caregiver loyalty, learn where you can improve, and boost retention across the board. According to Michelle Lisk, an agency owner in Pennsylvania who for years has used our program to survey her caregivers, “You have to learn the kind of culture they’re looking for. It isn’t just about money or they’d be working in a warehouse. We have a ton of warehouses near us and they all pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour. There was a point when I realized the culture that my caregivers wanted. They wanted to feel a part of something. It’s about the caring and recognition. If you go back through our monthly reports and surveys that we get from Home Care Pulse, you can see by their responses that that’s what they really wanted. They just want to feel appreciated and like they’re doing good out there.”
Another easy way to gauge what your employees are looking for is to directly ask “how do you like to be recognized when you do a good job?” Every person is different and giving them time to think about what makes them feel valued as a team member can make all the difference in your recognition system.
Some people are driven by money. Some people are driven by verbal recognition of a job well done. Either way, it’s a balancing game uplifted by clear communication.
Winning over your employees
Simply providing work opportunities is not enough to motivate caregivers and internal staff. When you look at it that way, it becomes a means to an end, which usually translates to a lack of excitement and passion. Here’s where benefits and perks come into play.
Perks and benefits are nice to share with employees because offering the same comprehensive benefits as everyone else won’t get you far. Perks are usually recognized as going above and beyond, but in today’s world, they’re a pretty standard addition to the benefits package.
So, while you don’t have to meet Google’s standards for employee benefits (think, bean bag chairs galore, massages, daily catered lunches, and free on-site healthcare), every agency should make an effort to create a dynamic plan that allows employees to be excited to come to work every day.
Working in home care isn’t always easy. Your employees are possibly taking shifts on the weekends and holidays while missing out on quality time with their families. Make sure you are adding value and making the pros outweigh the cons.
Monetary recognition goes a long way, but you also need to make sure you are verbally recognizing the great work your staff is doing. Give your employees a pat on the back – they are doing hard work to improve your organization after all.
Creating an atmosphere where everyone in your home is valued and appreciated can make a world of difference. “Happy family, happy life.” Could this apply to employees too? “Happy employees, happy business.” We think so. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.