There’s no single answer to solving the caregiver turnover crisis; however, there are things you can do to tip the scales a little more in your favor.
We’ve worked with thousands of agencies across the country whose turnover rates have ranged from single digits to 200% or more. What we’ve noticed is that there are common threads for both.
Here’s what you should be focusing on to reduce caregiver turnover and keep your agency staffed.
Benefits are sometimes overlooked, but they’re one of the most important external motivating factors behind why a caregiver might choose to stay, leave, or join your agency.
While we conducted surveys for the 2020 Homecare Benchmarking Study, caregivers shared some of their top complaints with us. As expected, benefits ranked among the top ten concerns, with many caregivers sharing that their current agencies weren’t living up to their expectations in terms of how they’re handling benefits.
There are a few things you can do if you’re looking to improve this area of your retention strategy. First, you’ll want to start by evaluating your agency as a whole and narrowing down on what’s most important to your caregivers and what you can afford to provide. Although this list is not exhaustive or necessarily the best option for every agency, we’ve compiled some of the types of benefits that some home care agencies have been offering their caregivers.
While most of these benefits are substantial and expensive, there are other options for additional benefits and incentives that are affordable and engaging. These might include:
- Caregiver mentor program
- Team building activities
- Awards and recognition
- Paid birthday off
- Local discounts at restaurants, gyms, or other businesses
You can read more about which benefits you should be offering caregivers here.
Clear and frequent communication arguably plays the most important role in caregiver turnover – mostly because of the abundance of other issues that can be tied to it. Not only that, but communication was the top complaint from the thousands of caregivers we surveyed this year.
Working in home care means you’re constantly dealing with frequent change. When a caregiver isn’t the first point of contact for the clients, it’s critical for your agency and office staff to relay any information or changes as quickly as possible. Specifically, updates on when a schedule or shift changes or any adaptations to client needs are top concerns for caregivers.
Another major grievance caregivers voiced is that they sometimes can’t reach office staff when they have an issue – especially after hours. This creates problems when the matters are time-sensitive.
While most agencies already have processes in place to make sure caregivers can reach someone after hours, the volume of caregiver complaints about communication suggest that agencies should audit their communication processes to make sure they’re truly responsive to caregivers and clients.
Training and preparation
Proper training and preparation is one of the first steps any home care agency should be taking when a new caregiver joins the team. Training sets the foundation for what to expect and usually shapes how confident a caregiver is in their role.
After evaluating all the complaints, we’ve found a common thread as to why caregivers complain about their training and it boils down to three reasons:
- They were asked to perform tasks that went above and beyond their skill level based on previous training.
- The agency offered no room for advancement, further training, or upward mobility.
- There was no training offered whatsoever.
In order to reduce caregiver turnover, training caregivers needs to remain front and center. Focus on building a career ladder. This could be through a caregiver mentor program, specialty learning paths, online caregiver training, or even workshops or other agency sponsored events.
One thing we’d suggest for agencies that already offer extensive, quality training is to make it a centerpiece of your recruitment marketing efforts. Not only will promoting your agency’s training help you retain caregivers, but it could also help you gain new ones that are seeking further professional growth.
Our research shows the number of ongoing training hours based on percentile ranking:
To exceed industry expectations, you’ll need to incorporate more training hours into the routines of your caregivers.
Consider any other areas where caregivers feel they may be lacking knowledge. We’ve found that not only are caregivers sometimes lacking training, but they also feel as though they’re being asked to assist clients with without being fully aware of all the information they need to do their job well. In other words: sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know.
It’s important to note that lack of preparation on behalf of the caregivers was also a top concern for clients as well. The best thing you can do here is make sure you have detailed, up-to-date care plans, and also have supervisors introduce caregivers to their new clients. By committing to comprehensive ongoing training, your agency can retain more caregivers and increase the quality of care they provide.
Caregivers across the U.S. agreed that one of the many pain points they face is low compensation.
The caregivers we surveyed generally wanted more pay, both as a means of recognition and to better provide for themselves and their families.
With companies like Amazon and Target boosting their minimum wage to $15 an hour, home care agencies have found that they’re losing caregivers more frequently to other industries. If you want to reduce caregiver turnover, adjusting your pay to be more competitive in compensation should be a top priority.
While low salary is common throughout the home care industry, compensation concerns come in other forms as well.
For example, caregivers generally want to be compensated for travel time; while agencies in many states are required to do so by law and many others have started doing it of their own accord, we still hear frequents complaints from caregivers who aren’t being reimbursed for travel. Most caregivers are okay with taking on new clients that require travel time if they’re appropriately reimbursed for the miles; however, we’ve found that some caregivers are making little to no money because they’re spending their wages on non-reimbursed travel to and from their destination.
Having a commute is normal, but when you’re constantly driving from place to place – sometimes on the opposite side of the city or even in another one – it adds up quickly.
Remember, there’s no silver bullet to caregiver retention, but there are actionable steps you can take to turn the tide:
- Take some time to deeply understand the needs of your caregivers.
- Sit down with a few of them, conduct exit interviews where possible, and survey your entire team if possible to get their thoughts.
- Plan one retention initiative per quarter, prioritizing based on the priorities of your care team.
More resources for Home Care hiring
CareerPlug is a trusted partner for home care agencies across the U.S. Check out these resources we’ve created to help you hire the right caregivers for your business:
- Home Care: A Guide to Recruiting Caregivers During COVID-19
- Boomerang Hiring: How to Manage Staffing During Economic Upheaval (Webinar with Home Care Pulse)
- Need Higher Quality Candidates? Try These 6 Recruitment Strategies
About the author
Megan Kujawa is a Content Marketing Specialist at Home Care Pulse with experience in digital and traditional marketing methods. Before working at Home Care Pulse, she assisted nonprofits and startups to secure funding and develop operations. Megan is passionate about helping small businesses grow from the ground up, while utilizing all digital and social channels.