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Listen to Your Caregivers to Improve Retention

By Stephen Tweed

As the caregiver shortage in home care continues to challenge companies providing in-home care to older adults, the focus has shifted to caregiver retention. Part of retaining high quality employees at all levels is to listen to them.

We’ve found that there are three effective ways to “listen” to employees: 

1. Employee Surveys – using validated survey methods to ask questions related to the issues employees face.

2. Focus Groups – gathering a small group with a skilled facilitator to engage them in conversation about the issues they face.

3. Individual Interviews – asking specific questions to individuals to understand how they think and feel about key issues facing them.

Surveying Your Caregivers  

A great way to get quantitative data on the thoughts and feelings of your caregivers is to conduct regular employee surveys.  You can do your own survey using an online tool like Survey Monkey. Or, you can us an outside research firm like Home Care Pulse to conduct monthly surveys and provide you with the data.

Our experience is that most home care leaders are not familiar with the science of doing valid surveys, so if you are going to do your own survey to save money, make sure it is valid.  If you want an outside service, many of our Home Care CEO Mastermind members use the Caregiver Satisfaction Management process from Home Care Pulse.  I’m personally a big fan of HCP client satisfaction and caregiver satisfaction surveys.

One example of a survey of  caregivers was the Best Caregiver Study conducted by the Home Care CEO Forum in 2019.  We had 184 “Best Caregivers” from ten top tier companies respond to an online survey.  One question we asked was:  “What are the Reasons You Stay with this Company?

Here’s what we learned:

Conducting Focus Groups of Caregivers

Focus groups are great way to get qualitative information about the thoughts and feelings of your caregivers.  Again, you can do your own focus group.  I have several home care CEOs who regularly do “Breakfast with the Boss”, and invite a small group of caregivers for a meal and conversation.

You can also use an outside firm to conduct focus groups for you, and provide you the information. This requires an experienced facilitator who understands how to use questions to get insights from the group, and who has the skills to build trust with them.

In gathering insights from thousands of employees in hundreds of companies over the past few decades, I’ve come up with my three favorite questions:

* What are you most proud of around here?
* What frustrates you most around here?
* If you could wave your magic wand, what three things would you fix around here?

Conducting Individual Interviews

A third way to get a more clear understanding of the needs, wants, and feelings of your caregivers is to conduct individual interviews.  This means setting up one-on-one conversations with a number of caregivers and asking them specific, pre-determined questions.

Jensen Jones, our Mastermind Group Facilitator at the Home Care CEO Forum has labeled these “Stay Interviews.”  That’s because your are setting up interviews to find out what it will take to get people to stay with you.  That’s as opposed to “Exit Interviews”, that you use to find out why people left.  It’s better to get them to stay than it is to find out why they left.

Give Them Feedback. 

We have also learned that when you ask questions like these of your employees, you must give them feedback:

* Here’s What we learned from this focus group/survey/interview.
* Here are the things we can fix right away.
* Here are the things we can fix later, and why later.
* Here are the things we are not going to fix, and how come.

What have you learned from listening to your employees, and what action have you taken?

Consider Joining a Home Care CEO Mastermind Group

For the opportunity to have regular discussions with other owners of similar sized home care companies, you may want to considering becoming a member of a Home Care CEO Mastermind Group.

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