Employee engagement is one of the most pressing challenges employers face today. Although the current COVID-19 crisis creates a very different environment, we can expect that engagement will remain a challenge. In today’s blog post, we’ll go over caregiver recognition as well as the quality of life for caregivers all of which have a direct impact on employee engagement.
Employee engagement is correlated with employee retention, the ability to keep employees working for your agency over time. By this measure, the home care industry doesn’t score well with average turnover at 82%. However, this number hides very different realities. Some agencies seem to have cracked the code and enjoy turnover rates around 30% or lower.
During a recent call with a client, we discussed the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates existing trends. Agencies that will survive this crisis are those that have always cared for their caregivers. One example of the case of an agency owner in Colorado who decided to keep on payroll the caregivers who are not able to work during the health emergency.
Remember Stacy Connolly, the Director of Caregiver Experience? Her agency has enjoyed a remarkable 20% turnover rate. This is clearly thanks to years of “loving on the caregivers.”
How can you create better employee engagement with your caregiver? This can be achieved by focusing on the quality of life of employees, supporting healthy living and providing meaningful recognition.
Quality of Life and Employee Engagement
Even in ordinary times (before the pandemic), many home care workers have difficult lives because of low earnings, high demands put on their time and challenging family dynamics. Focusing on quality of life lifts employee engagement.
Here are some factors that directly improve the quality of life of your caregivers:
- Competitive wages and the opportunity to earn overtime pay are major factors in the retention of caregivers. They also directly impact their quality of life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, consider providing hazard pay or a bonus to caregivers who stay on the frontline.
- Predictable hours so caregivers can plan their work with the many other demands put on their times and achieve some work-life balance.
- Meaningful benefits: many caregivers cannot afford healthcare premiums or are eligible for Medicaid. However, agencies provide benefits that support the needs of their workforce: mileage/travel reimbursement, access to supplemental health insurance, 401(K) match, paid leave and education reimbursement.
- Supporting new caregivers: Agencies with a mentoring program for new hires send a powerful message that they value their employees. By investing in a mentoring program, you set the stage for a committed workforce that understands what makes your agency different from your competitors in town. Get your checklist on How To Start A Caregiver Mentoring Program at your agency.
Surprising Connection With Healthy Living
I am a big proponent of healthy living in everyday life. Nothing grandiose or difficult, just daily mindful choices to eat better/cleaner foods, to move more and to take deep breaths whenever you think about it!
If you are considering implementing a workplace wellness program, you are on the right track! Physical wellness includes healthy meals, an opportunity for fun and appropriate exercise, managing chronic conditions.
Employees report better communication with managers who support healthy living. When managers don’t support healthy living, the relationship is not as open. This makes sense: supporting healthy living indicates that you care about each of your employees individually. The employees feel you care about it and are more likely to commit to your agency in return.
At this time, self-care for our employees on the frontline is more important than ever. Schedule enough time between shifts to allow them to recover, avoid burn-out as the effects of the pandemic lasts for weeks or months.
Meaningful Caregiver Recognition Affects Employee Engagement
For recognition to be meaningful, it must be specific. A general statement about good work doesn’t cut it. As a recipient of recognition, I need to know that you’re paying enough attention to me that you know what I’m doing.
- The most powerful recognition comes from the boss. It’s not that recognition from people other than the supervisor is bad. But the biggest impact of recognition comes from the person who is most important to me at work: my boss.
- Be discriminant. Meaningful recognition catches people not just doing things right but doing things that are excellent. In our extraordinary environment of caregivers being on the frontline of the pandemic, keeping seniors safe at home, there are many opportunities for such recognition.
- Pay attention to individual work frequently, so your caregivers can feel confident that you’ll see them at their best when it happens.
Whether in a pandemic crisis or the new world post-pandemic, some things will not change. The need to engage employees and make caregivers feel recognized by your agency will be just as important as it was in early 2020.