What Do Caregivers Look for in a Job?

Home Care Office Staff Hiring Tips

Most home care agency owners view caregiver shortages as the #1 threat to their agency’s growth. Understanding what caregivers look for in a job can help you to sidestep the caregiver shortage crisis. 

At Home Care Pulse, we talk to a lot of caregivers. We survey over 17,000 home care clients and caregivers every month to learn about their experiences. One major focus of our caregiver surveys is to understand why they accepted a job at the agency they’re currently with.

It’s important for agencies to understand what caregivers are look for in a job, as most home care owners currently regard caregiver shortages as the leading threat to their growth. As you work to make your recruitment and retention strategies as effective as possible, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what caregivers look for in a job and why they choose your agency.

According to surveys of over 40,000 caregivers in 2017 as part of the 2018 Home Care Benchmarking Study, these are the top five reasons why caregivers chose to work for the agencies they did.

Reason #5: The work hours fit their schedule.

The right schedule is critically important to most caregivers for several reasons: many caregivers have children, are attending school, or are balancing caregiving with other jobs. Not getting an accommodating work schedule was one of the top complaints by caregivers in 2018.

What this means for your agency: Many home care owners worry that the only way to combat caregiver shortages is by paying significantly more. In many situations, offering flexible schedules may accomplish as much or more to keep your caregivers than an incremental pay raise. To recruit more caregivers, you should explore your options and make every effort to provide flexible scheduling options based on caregivers’ needs.

Reason #4: The agency had a good reputation.

You’ll see that this is similar to reason #3; however, this refers to the strength of an agency’s brand in the community or online, rather than a referral from a specific acquaintance. As more and more agencies enter the industry, it’s increasing important to establish a compelling employment brand that stands out to applicants.

What this means for your agency: Focus on developing your brand not only for consumers but for potential employees. We recommend providing your caregivers with branded company clothing (for example, by holding prize drawings at training meetings where you give out a sweatshirt with the company logo on it), sponsoring local events to build goodwill in the community, and tracking your online reputation through sites like Glassdoor and Indeed.com. If your logo is lackluster or feels outdated, you should consider hiring a professional graphic designer to create a memorable new logo.

Reason #3: The agency was recommended to them by friends or family.

Caregivers, like employees in most industries, rely heavily on personal recommendations to choose the right place to work. It’s worth noting that caregivers who applied because other caregivers recommended your agency to them have a turnover rate of up to 25% lower than caregivers who were found through other leading recruitment sources.

What this means for your agency: You can capitalize on this trend by establishing an employee referral program. With the current estimated cost of replacing a caregiver at $2,600, a $100-200 bonus is a small price to pay for a quality caregiver.

Reason #2: The agency offered a good working environment, including frequent recognition and good employee benefits.

You’ll notice something as you go down this list: pay isn’t on it. While pay is obviously an extremely important factor, it appears that it’s rarely the differentiator between different home care agencies or alternate options. Caregivers gravitate toward agencies that provide a good environment where they feel recognized, trusted, and heard. In addition, the right benefits go a long way toward ensuring stable caregiver retention.

What this means for your agency: Work to understand what is important to your caregivers. In our surveys, we’ve learned that your office staff are often the biggest factor in determining caregivers’ experience with your agency. Ensure that your office staff are well-trained, easy for caregivers to reach, and contribute to a culture of appreciation and trust.

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Reason #1: It was the first job they applied to or the first company that offered them a job.

The fact that this was the #1 reason why caregivers took a job in 2017 suggests several things: first, many agencies are not being very selective in the caregivers they hire. Second, caregivers will tend to go with the agencies that have the fastest hiring and onboarding process.

What this means for your agency: While it’s easier said than done, establishing a better pipeline of caregivers will enable you to be more choosey about caregivers and select only the applicants who will be reliable, give quality care, and be more likely to stick around with your agency. Additionally, it’s clear that one of the most important ways that you can improve your recruitment is simply to speed up your hiring process. Creating a more efficient, organized process—including outsourcing aspects of onboarding and orientation where necessary—is one of the quickest ways that you become more competitive in recruitment.

Listen to Your Caregivers

These are the top reasons given by the thousands of caregivers across the industry; however, it’s important to understand what drew your specific caregivers and what will attract other caregivers in your area. Talk to your caregivers, take careful notes of what applicants say in interviews, hold exit interviews, and consider using third-party surveys to get an accurate picture of what’s most important to your individual caregivers.

Do you know why your caregivers chose to work for you? Let us know in the comments.

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