Protect Your Most Vital Asset: Improving Caregiver Retention
Starting, operating, and maintaining a home care agency is no easy endeavor. While you may be the owner, the success of your practice largely relies on the staff—caregivers—you employ. As the number of caregivers you hire grows, so too does the number of variables that could negatively affect your agency as a whole. Each caregiver should boast of number of beneficial attributes including (but definitely not limited too) a neat appearance, compassion, caution, and attention to detail. Without these traits, your agency is likely to encounter poor reviews, loss of clients, and ultimately, a significant decrease in revenue.
The past decade has seen a significant increase in demand for home care leading to the establishment of new agencies across the country. At face value, this industry rise is largely beneficial since it creates more jobs, as well as more home care help for those in need. By probing a little deeper though, we find that the home care industry experiences more employee turnover than many other job sectors.
The high turnover rate has led many agency owners to focus their efforts on employee retention by building strong relationships and recognizing exceptional caregivers.
Caregivers and Schedulers: A Tricky Relationship
One of the primary aspects of employee retention revolves around a strong relationship between agency and caregiver. While a caregiver spends a great deal of his or her time attending to the health and wellbeing of clients, there is also a significant amount of time spent collaborating with agency schedulers.
As the name suggests, a “scheduler” is responsible for maintaining strict schedules for a group of caregivers. A large majority of schedulers handle several caregiver schedules at any given time, creating a meticulous and stressful work environment. This excess stress can strain the relationship between caregiver and scheduler, oftentimes leading to scheduling and communication mishaps, which generally affects the client directly.
For that reason, many agencies have found that providing schedulers with improved infrastructure can improve the relationship between caregivers and schedulers. Many agencies have found phenomenal success in efficiency and performance by simply implementing specialized home care software. In doing so, the scheduler’s daily routine becomes streamlined and efficient, creating the perfect opportunity for schedulers and caregivers to build strong relationships.
Now that the scheduler can spend less time managing schedules and calendars, he or she can focus more on each individual caregiver. Caregivers will always perform better when they feel valued, which is why many schedulers make it a point to compliment and praise caregivers for an exceptional job. This feeling of value will undoubtedly increase retention rates, as well as weed out any caregivers who are inadequately equipped to handle the job.
Give Credit Where It’s Due
Unfortunately, many agencies treat their employees as if they were robots, programmed to perform a specific function without expecting any form of praise, recognition, or incentive. If an agency is treating their caregivers poorly, what does that say about how they treat their clients? Caregivers are people too. They deserve recognition for performing their job exceptionally well.
If we put ourselves in a caregiver’s shoes, chances are good that we will find ourselves subjected to long hours, poor working conditions, and clients who can be bitter or unable to show any form of emotion. With these working conditions, it isn’t surprising that employee retention rates are so low. Combine that with a lack of recognition from agency staff and you have the perfect recipe for turnover.
To hire and retain a decent work staff, an agency owner needs to take every opportunity to express gratitude or give praise to caregivers who perform their jobs exceptionally well. In doing so, an agency owner becomes a support system for caregivers which can not only increase retention rates, but also instills a sense of value into caregivers. If caregivers do not feel like a valued part of the agency, then what is stopping them from going elsewhere?
Along with praise, gratitude and recognition, agency owners can also establish incentive systems that reward caregivers for performing well. Incentives can be anything, but a few good examples include gift cards to local restaurants, tickets to an upcoming concert, or even a bonus at the end of the month. By offering incentives, an agency creates a sense of friendly competition and comradery that can not only unite agency staff with caregivers, but also boost productivity amongst caregivers.