Agency Tips & Tactics

Clamping Down on Caregiver Churn

Yes, you can keep caregivers from jumping ship—even in a hot job market.

It’s a universal truth in home care that the strength of a business depends on the quality of its people. At Honor, while we’re proud of the tremendous advantages our technology affords our caregivers, clients, and families, we recognize that the right caregiver-client match is crucial. Bottom line—the better your people, the better your client experience.

Competing for the best caregivers

Currently, caregivers are in a seller’s market when choosing where they work. They’re recruited aggressively, sometimes getting multiple calls each week about new job opportunities. And nearly all of them say they’re open to taking another job at any time.

That means the best caregivers have their pick of agencies to work with, often moving to get more consistent hours, a client closer to home, or a client who’s easier to care for. It’s no surprise that the industry average for caregiver churn is more than 60%.

Reducing caregiver churn

High churn is one of the biggest challenges for independent home care agencies. But it’s not inevitable. In fact, it’s possible to reduce churn rate by 20% or more simply by creating a sense of community for your caregivers and a culture of mutual respect.

I know what you’re thinking: reducing turnover is as simple as raising pay rates. Surprisingly, it’s not that simple or that expensive. High turnover is about much more than that and, based on our experience, isn’t correlated to pay rate. The fact is, the best way to keep your qualified caregivers happy where they are is to make your agency a better place to work.

Two professional caregivers standing side by side.

Step 1: Set Clear Expectations, Communicate, and Provide Support

Let your caregivers know what you expect of them and how you define success at your agency. Many agency owners don’t clearly establish or communicate policies and processes to employees until they become relevant. For example, what’s your policy on late arrivals to care visits? How do last-minute call-offs affect performance evaluations? Are caregivers expected to write notes after every visit? If so, where?

Once you’re clear on expectations, communicate them to your team on a regular basis. Friendly reminders via text can really help your team feel supported and up-to-date on your agency’s policies.

Separately, it’s easy for caregivers to feel like they’re on their own when working in a client’s home. That’s why it’s so important to be available by phone to answer questions, provide support, and help them be safe and successful, 24/7. If you’re using software to support client management, make sure your caregivers have access to the right tools and resources, when they need them.

Caregiver burnout is real—for professionals as well as family caregivers. When you can, let your caregivers choose their next jobs so they get a mix of clients with different needs and, most importantly, secure a full schedule of work. We put tremendous effort into this aspect of the caregiver journey, including leveraging our technology to show caregivers, in real time, any jobs they qualify for based on geography and their availability.

Step 2: Provide Career-Building Opportunities

Caregivers are professionals who care about growing their skill sets and advancing their careers, like anyone else. But many agency owners either don’t understand this or don’t seem to care. This is a mistake. Offering a real career path creates an opportunity for agencies to differentiate themselves from others in the minds of caregivers.

What can you do to nurture and grow careers for your caregivers? Consider giving employees opportunities to attend caregiving conferences or talks by medical professionals. Or making resources available for caregivers who want to take the CNA exam or other certification tests. You could even offer an in-house caregiver preparedness course.

Professional caregivers conducting a lifting and transferring training.

These are just a few examples we’ve seen from our partners in the Honor Care Network. Depending on the quality of your caregivers, you could go further. At Honor, we’re happy to accommodate caregivers who have exceptional skills and show an interest in an alternative career path, moving them up to more senior roles on our Care Team or even inviting them to join our HQ team. And, no surprise, they’re among our best performers in their roles, in large part due to their previous caregiving experience.

Step 3: Build Community

Many people name their coworkers as a big reason they don’t want to change jobs. Friendship is a powerful force. If you’ve made good friends at work, it’s much harder to consider leaving. So why not give your employees the chance to build and grow friendships at fun quarterly events? Barbecues, picnics, holiday parties—events like these strengthen bonds and make caregivers more loyal to each other, your team, and your agency.

Don’t forget to plan family-friendly events. When you include your employees’ spouses, partners, and kids, you reinforce the idea that your agency is like a family. And the same family commitments that prevent caregivers from backfilling call-offs may also prevent them from attending company events if their family isn’t invited.

Step 4: Tell the World You’re Proud of Them

Everyone likes feeling appreciated and getting public recognition for their work. Consider an employee-of-the-month program. Or start a newsletter that spotlights your caregivers and their stories. You’ll show caregivers that they’re an important and valued part of your team.

When a client or account owner provides unsolicited, positive feedback about an Honor Care Pro, that caregiver gets a bonus. This is a great way to encourage client feedback and reward the exceptional caregivers who represent the best of our brand.

Thank you card.

Step 5: Treat Them Like Family

Employees in any industry notice when their employers treat them as an afterthought or disregard them. Those workers will stick around only as long as they have to before jumping at the first good offer they get. Avoid unwanted attrition by consistently showing your caregivers how much you value them.

For example, most caregivers have demanding schedules due to personal and other professional commitments in their lives. Try to accommodate this reality rather than being inflexible. When events are coming up that your caregivers need to know about, remind them with a text or an email. (We’ve found that most caregivers prefer texts.)

You should also try to offer any benefits you can afford. Ask your caregivers what benefits they’d like most. Depending on the size of your agency, this may or may not include health insurance. If it doesn’t, get creative to stay competitive in the labor market. Give gift cards for excellent, ongoing performance or a cash bonus for sticking with an especially challenging client.

At Honor, our caregivers have told us how much they appreciate getting paid every week, rather than biweekly. We do it not because it’s easier for us, but because it helps us keep all of our caregivers—the people most responsible for giving our clients great service—happy.

Ultimately, that’s what it boils down to. When your caregivers are happy because of how you treat them and the opportunities you offer them, they aren’t focused on finding new clients or their next employer. They’re focused on caring for their current clients. Your clients.

Read more tips on caregiver recruiting and retention in this related post.

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