Over the summer, I had the pleasure of working with a franchise of Touching Hearts At Home in Colorado. The initial contact was made by the recruiter who subscribed to this newsletter. She had put in place a few good things but wasn’t satisfied with the pace of their caregiver recruitment. I shared with her how my program could help them develop other recruitment sources to increase the number of quality applicants.
As we worked together, the agency owner brought on the other staff member who was similarly professional and articulate. I was really impressed by the quality of this 2-person office team. With the agency owner, the three of them were able to operate and grow a mid-size agency. No drama, no shortcuts. Just three people showing up every day to do their best work. This was possible because of the high caliber of the office team.
If caregivers are the lifeblood of a home health agency, office staff is its backbone. Don’t ignore the impact office employees have on client satisfaction, caregiver recruitment and retention. Because it sets the tone for your agency, your office staff determine its trajectory, towards growth or stagnation.
Office Staff has the highest impact on client satisfaction
Home Care Pulse conducts annual surveys of the industry. One of the most interesting findings is clients’ satisfaction with office staff “correlates with a client’s likelihood to recommend a provider.” Caregivers may have the closest contact with clients but they do not solely influence clients’ satisfaction.
In fact, the office staff is often the client’s first impressions of your agency. Think about the initial inquiry or the home assessment. Those are handled by your office team. The staff also project an image through the on-going interactions with clients (e.g. scheduling of care, regular assessment visits and even billing).
If the office staff is indifferent or unprofessional, it reflects on the entire agency. On the contrary, a professional and caring office staff will be a positive counterpoint when caregivers rotate in and out frequently.
Office staff has a major impact on caregiver recruitment.
In a recent article, I described the qualities required for a successful recruiter in home care. I see many clients struggle with caregiver recruitment because they do not have the right employee in the position. As we work together on the caregiver recruitment and retention masterplan, it is obvious when the current players are not the right ones.
Last year, I worked with a small agency on their recruitment plans. It quickly became obvious to me that the recruiter wasn’t willing to put in the work required for success. I shared my misgivings with the owner who wasn’t surprised by my feedback. After several months of struggles, the agency finally “pulled the plug” and brought in a new recruiter.
The impact on staffing was almost immediate: more applications, better quality, plans to establish partnerships with schools and more! The mood in the office brightened. The staff was able to take the plans we had crafted and took them to new heights. Although it had not been an easy decision to let go of a staff member, it really was a turning point for this agency.
Beyond the impact the recruiter has on caregiver recruitment, more subtle influences are at play too. By projecting a professional image through its office staff, your agency is more likely to attract professional caregivers. Your best caregivers are caring professionals. They will gravitate towards like-minded people. When this is not the case, you will see the impact without always getting to the root cause: the lack of respect and professionalism by the office staff towards caregivers.
Office Staff plays a key in caregiver retention.
Office employees interact with caregivers on a daily basis. Based on the quality of these interactions, caregivers feel either connected to the agency or alienated by their employer. Professionalism and respect for caregivers demonstrated through those daily interactions is what makes caregivers want to stay or quit.
The Home Care Pulse Benchmark Survey shows that high performing agencies also score high with caregivers on the topics of training and recognition. Those are usually delivered by office staff. The quality of training delivered by the clinical staff impacts caregiver retention. The sensitivity and frequency of recognition for a job well-done impact the tenure of caregivers. Acknowledging difficult clients with caregivers give them the resolve to keep going.
Although you might have known intuitively that the quality of your office drives the success of your agency, there is mounting evidence of its multi-dimensional impact.