By Ginny Kenyon
Are there days when you have clients to care for but no employees? Or, how about too many workers and not enough clients, causing you to lose employees? This is the never ending challenge of managing a home care organization. The cost of recruiting each aide is estimated between $1200 and $1500. Every time an aide leaves your organization, your investment walks out the door.
Agencies have employed numerous strategies to boost their retention program over the years. Bonuses, health insurance coverage, providing company vehicles or gas cards and earned paid vacation are just a few of these perks. For many agencies, the strategies are successful for a while – until the turnover rate begins to climb again. Human resource research tells us the most effective strategies for developing happy employees. And, happy employees mean retained staff.
Common Strategies of an Effective Home Care Retention Program
1. Work Must be Meaningful. For most of us, meaningful work isn’t questioned. However, every employee doesn’t find every type of client or line of business meaningful. An individual who loves the routine care provided to a client recovering from a major illness is very different from those finding fulfillment caring for a long term dementia client. Because of these differences, an essential part of your home care retention program must include development of a caregiver profile for each business line. This strategy helps you avoid the mistake of asking staff to provide services that do not meet their criteria of a meaningful assignment.
2. Employees Know They are Appreciated. Showing appreciation should be easy. Unfortunately organizational life is busy and we often forget to say thank you. Signaling out and employee takes effort and must be established as a top priority. In agencies with a successful home care retention program, appreciation is the way of doing business. Staff are empowered to acknowledge the contributions of others. Gratitude is expressed with “thank you drawers” filled with inexpensive items such as movie tickets, gas cards, or gift certificates, which management can present to staff for going above and beyond their job responsibilities. Many agencies use quarterly staff meetings to recognize birthdays and work anniversaries. Accompanied with cards or small gifts such as a pin signifying the number of years worked, these small tokens produce a big return. One of most powerful forms of recognition is having the employee stand as client or coworker compliments are read.
3. Welcoming Work Environment. Agencies with an effective home care retention program create a warm and welcoming workplace. To accomplish this goal, train receptionists and schedulers to listen to the needs of the field staff and offer encouragement and acceptance. Hire experienced managers that understand the difficulties that caregivers experience. Offer appropriate, and valued, suggestions for improvement and treat caregivers as important customers.
4. Opportunity for growth and advancement. Although nurses and therapist have numerous opportunities for advancement, home care aides have little or no development opportunities. Addressing this issue prevents aide turnover and ensures your agency’s survival. Providing advanced disease specific education allows aides to gain vital knowledge that improves client care and accomplishes growth and advancement in their position.
5. Develop Elite Status Aides. This home care retention program strategy is used for retention and is a powerful opportunity to show appreciation for tenured aides. Elite Aides, skilled in advanced chronic disease care, provides a powerful marketing tool to promote specialized care to agency customers. Elite status eligibility criteria differs between agencies and must meet the needs of your client caseload. Kenyon suggests only aides with at least 6 months tenure, a good attendance record, acceptance of work assignments, and demonstrated agency loyalty be considered. Business cards and name tags identify these chronic disease certified aides as an Elite aide.
Access Kenyon HomeCare Consulting and Aide University to learn more about available chronic disease courses and instructions for purchasing. Please call Kenyon HomeCare at 206-721-509 with any questions.
5 Strategies Used to Build an Effective Home Care Retention Program was first published at Kenyon Connects on June 15, 2015.
Ginny Kenyon is the founder and CEO of Kenyon HomeCare Consulting, a home health consulting firm that gives agencies a market advantage, promotes creative product development, and offers viable ways to achieve and sustain organizational and fiscal success.