Welcome to the first article of the 20/20 series on Caregiver Engagement.

At a time when caregiver turnover is ridiculously high (82% according to Home Care Pulse Benchmark Survey), home care agencies are desperate to improve their retention. Employee engagement is an important tool in your retention toolbox.

What is employee engagement? 

It’s the emotional commitment employees feel towards your agency and its goals. Engaged employees are more willing to go “above and beyond” what is expected of them. Employee engagement is different from employee satisfaction. Satisfaction is a measure of how happy employees are with their employer and their job. Employee engagement takes it one step further. Engagement translates into commitment to the mission of your agency and work performance every day with clients. 

Unfortunately, engaged employees only represent a small percentage of your workforce, 18% across industries according to Gallup.

Why bother with caregiver engagement? 

You know good caregivers are essential to your business success. They provide caring services to your clients. Engaged caregivers are the best ambassadors for your agency. Employee engagement also correlates with profitability. Here’s how:

  • On the front-end: clients always prefer a stable care team to the revolving door of caregivers. They also notice when caregivers really care versus those who just go “through the motions” of the care plan. Happy clients are also more likely to make a referral. The stability of the care team leads to better clinical knowledge and outcomes. 
  • On the back-end of the house, engaged caregivers stay with your agency. This means lower turnover, lower admin costs (think “less recruitment”).  

Reaching out to all employees on a regular basis is one way to improve employee engagement in home care. It’s also a challenge: how can we stay in touch with field employees who rarely come to the office?

Tips for Reaching Out To Caregivers

Supporting caregivers is one of the critical tasks of your office staff. Support and communication go hand in hand. 

  1. The mindset

Employee engagement requires a genuine desire to connect with caregivers on a personal level. Whether on a field visit or during a phone call, it’d important to establish and nurture a personal connection. Take an interest in your caregivers’ personal lives and remember their challenges. Ask questions. Show interest.

     2. Encourage Two-Way Communication 

Agencies that communicate very frequently with their caregivers create a warm connection. Caregivers seek the support of an office team dedicated to make their work in the field a little easier or have a line to share their challenges. Using a secured platform with a chat functionality is a great way to keep track of your workforce. For caregivers, it gives a direct access to the right person on the office depending on what they need.

    3. Give frequent feedback

You have heard about the importance of providing employees regular performance feedback. This is even more important with field workers who are not in the office every day. They find it difficult to gauge how management perceives their work. And when it comes to millennials, they crave feedback.

    4. Get Out and Visit

Consider using the regular check-ins (after 30, 60 and 90 days) as more than a clinical assessment. Rotate the staff interacting with caregivers on those visits. For example, the 30-day check-in could be done by the Care coordinator. The following visit could be done by the Operations Manager. The required care plan check-in after 90 days might have to be handled by the Nurse.

In addition to spreading the work of regular check-ins, this rotation is great way for office staff to get out in the field and stay close to the business of providing care to seniors.

   5. Get together in person

No matter how spread out your team is, try to get everyone together in person at least once a year with an all-hands meeting. The best-in-class agencies hold quarterly meetings (yes, four times a year!) where caregivers and staff are invited at a morning or afternoon session.