Recruiting and retaining caregivers has long been among the top challenges facing homecare providers. With caregiver turnover rising to 77% according to the 2023 HCP Benchmarking Report, successfully hiring caregivers in these historic, fast-changing times requires a different set of tools and techniques.
We’ve outlined some trusted tips to help agencies get star caregivers on board as we enter the “new normal” that is the post-pandemic world.
This might sound obvious, but it is easier said than done. During a caregiver shortage when you may be desperate to get more heads on staff, it can be tempting to fill positions with anyone who can pass a background check. Unfortunately, this approach will hurt you in the long run. Did you know that the average caregiver costs $2,600 to replace?
It’s worth taking the time to recruit qualified candidates that truly want the job. Hiring someone who isn’t the right fit will not only cost your agency money, it could also damage the reputation you worked hard to build. Although caregiver acquisition costs vary, providers that list ‘word of mouth’ as their top recruitment source have lower caregiver acquisition costs and lower caregiver turnover. For caregivers hired by ‘word of mouth’, the Median Caregiver Turnover rate is 64.5% and Mean Caregiver Acquisition Cost is $309.
Another good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t feel comfortable with that person being the caregiver of your own mother or father, you shouldn’t hire them to care for anyone else’s.
First impressions carry a lot of weight, and the same could be said for an onboarding program. Start your aides off strong with a focused and instructive orientation. In addition to giving them the standard tools they need to be successful caregivers, train them on other helpful subjects like infection control, the importance of hand-washing, and following safety precautions. You can also consider offering self-care tips or grief training to help them avoid burnout.
Building and executing a strong orientation program takes time and effort, but the benefits make it worth it. A well-thought-out orientation will encourage new employees to see your agency in a positive light. When caregivers feel good about the company they’re working for, they’re more likely to want to do a good job – and keep at it!
Everyone likes to be recognized for a job well done. A simple “thank you” always means a lot, but for staff who are really going above and beyond, do your best to reward them monetarily with financial incentives. Incentive programs and platforms are also a great way to create positive momentum and an empowered company culture. Small rewards such as a gift card to a local restaurant, or a day at the spa, can make all the difference. Find out what motivates your employees and build the incentive program around that.
A point system is an ideal place to start. For example, for every visit an aide is on time, they get one point. Each time they accurately observe and track a patient’s condition, they get two points. The more points they earn, the better their reward.
If you’re wondering what other agencies your size are offering their caregivers, here are the caregiver benefits agencies were providing in 2022 according to the number of caregivers employed:
The 2023 HCP Benchmarking Report indicated that agencies that invest in more training hours generate considerably more revenue. Homecare agencies who offered 8+ hours of orientation and 12+ hours of ongoing training had a median revenue that was $681,672 higher than those who has 3 or less orientation training hours and 4 or less ongoing training hours.
Not only will putting more resources and effort into caregiver training increase your revenue, but it can also improve caregiver morale. Caregiver training improves job satisfaction, confidence, helps caregivers move up the career ladder, and even improves care outcomes. When employees feel that they are valued, they feel better about themselves; when they feel better about themselves, they’ll feel better about their work.
Caregivers want stability and competitive wages. They also want to be able to grow with a company and have professional goals to aspire to. As you bring new caregivers on board, take the time to learn their career ambitions, communicate expectations, and outline the steps they need to take to advance within your agency. Scheduling regular check-ins can help to keep them on track and address any challenges they may be facing.
You may also want to consider starting a mentorship program as a way to ensure ongoing training and help your employees feel guided and encouraged. Identify the most reliable, responsible, and successful caregivers in your organization to promote to a mentor role. They will be the people your new aides look to for advice and direction.
In addition to the boost they’ll get from their more senior role, mentors can also help ensure employees’ satisfaction on the job, ultimately resulting in lower turnover rates for your company as a whole.
Upon reviewing over 72,000 caregiver satisfaction surveys throughout 2020, Home Care Pulse found caregiver satisfaction to be the highest at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This might come as a surprise, especially given the dangers of being a caregiver at this time.
Despite the risks involved and the changes to their daily work, caregiver satisfaction was high at the worst of the pandemic because it was then when they felt most valued. When COVID had reached its peak, caregivers noted that they felt their employers were communicating more, recognizing them more, listening to them, and being proactive in addressing their needs. Additionally, caregivers were actively being viewed as healthcare heroes by society.
Now that the pandemic no longer has the same impact on the industry, care professional satisfaction has fallen back to pre-pandemic levels. This should serve as an important reminder that caregivers should always be perceived and treated as the heroes they are.
The demand for homecare services is now higher than ever. This doesn’t mean we can get complacent; it means we have to work harder, as competition for qualified caregivers is only going to increase. If a caregiver faces a conflicting opportunity to work, are you confident they’ll choose your agency over your competition’s?
In addition to conducting Employee Satisfaction Surveys, pay attention to your reviews. While it is natural to want to dismiss the negative ones, try to look through an unbiased lens and see if there may be any truth to the criticism. Address the reviews accordingly and take action to make improvements where possible.
Remember: your caregivers are your most important asset. Without them, you can’t run your business! Treat them with the respect they deserve, listen to their needs, and do your part to empower them; your caregivers will grow, and so will your business.
To learn more about HHAeXchange and Home Care Pulse’s partnership, visit our partner page.
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