Print this article

Improving Retention with a “Caregiver First” Company Culture

By Stephen Tweed

How are you doing with Caregiver Retention?

The 2022 Home Care Benchmarking Study from Home Care Pulse will be out shortly, and we received a sneak preview of some of the data.  We learned that annual caregiver turnover has improved just a smidgeon from 65.2% last year, to 64% in 2021.

With the continued shortage of caregivers, and the increasing difficulty in attracting new high quality applicants, we’ve concluded that to grow your business you will need to shift your culture and improve caregiver retention.

Shifting Your Company Culture to Caregivers First

The vast majority of home care companies have grown successfully by having a “client first” mindset where most of their decisions have been driven by what clients, families, and referral sources want and need.  Then these companies have figured out how to find the caregiver to meet the needs of their clients.

A major new trend in our industry is the number of companies in the Top 10% of the industry who have made a conscious decision to shift their focus and their company culture from “Clients First” to “Caregivers First.”

As you know from many previous newsletters, we define Company Culture as “The way we do things around here.”  Your company culture is influenced by four big factors:

  1. The leadership style of the CEO 
  2. The core values that guide your decisions and actions
  3. The behavior you expect
  4. The behavior you permit.

As my wife and business partner, Elizabeth Jeffries, RN, CSP, CPAE says, “The behavior you permit you promote.”

Three Big Barriers to Shifting Your Company Culture

As we are working with a number of home care companies on shifting their culture to enable improvement in caregiver recruitment and retention, we have identified three big barriers to shifting to this new “Caregiver First Culture”.

  1. The CEO has a hard time putting caregivers before clients.
  2. Executives and middle managers have a hard time saying “No” to a client or family or referral source in order to put caregivers first.
  3. Managers and team members have not defined the behaviors that go with a “Caregiver First Culture”.

And yet we realize that if we do not shift our approach to caregiver recruiting and retention, we will not be able to grow our home care companies to meet the growing needs of an aging adult population.  We are in an environment where the companies that can get the caregivers can get the clients.

What Can We Learn from our Best Caregivers

In 2019, Leading Home Care and the Home Care CEO Forum launched our most recent Best Caregiver Study.  We asked the member companies in our Home Care CEO Mastermind Groups to identify their top ten caregivers.  Then we asked those top caregivers to answer a short online survey.  Here is what we learned:

The best caregivers are attracted to a company that … 

  1. Provides meaningful work caring for the elderly
  2. Offers flexible hours
  3. Provides career opportunity
  4. Is known as a great place to work
  5. Has an owner who is known as a great person to work for

The same study showed us why the best caregivers stay with their company for an average of 3.9 years:

  1. I’m doing important work caring for seniors
  2. I feel valued and appreciated by my clients
  3. I like my flexible schedule
  4. I feel valued and appreciated by my supervisor
  5. I feel valued and appreciated by my company owner
  6. I appreciate the education and training my company provides
  7. I feel like I am fairly paid

Using Information to create a Caregiver First Culture

This information gives us some great insights on what companies can do to shift their culture to put caregivers first.  Some of the things we can do are very tangible:

  • Provide pay and benefits that are above the median
  • Offer flexible schedules
  • Provide formal education and training
  • Provide tangible recognition and rewards

There are some things you can do that are less tangible:

  • Help caregivers see the importance of their work to their clients
  • Put in place processes to help caregivers feel valued and appreciated
  • Train supervisors and managers to show appreciation and give recognition
  • Constantly work on your culture that creates a great place to work
  • Promote your employment brand as a great place to work.
  • Put caregivers before clients in making strategic business decisions

Explore ideas with other companies your size

There’s no better way to really explore this concept of building a “Caregiver First Culture” than to have in-depth discussions about these ideas with other owners and CEOs of home care companies your size who do not compete with you.  You can have this opportunity when you are a member of a Home Care CEO Mastermind Group.

Explore membership today.


Print this article