Home care agencies understand that they need to do everything possible to engage and retain their best caregivers to provide top-quality service for their clients and ensure client/patient satisfaction.
In Part 1 of this series, we looked at specific ways your home care agency can master engagement and retention and significantly reduce your turnover rates by developing an effective strategy. Tips included:
- Recruit and hire to retain
- Build effective communication
- Ask for feedback and act on it promptly
- Train and upskill caregivers
- Appreciation, recognition and reward
- Provide unique benefits
- Manage client-caregiver relationships effectively
- Implement mentorship and coaching programs
- Create an employee referral program.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to lowering caregiver turnover, these strategies are proven to yield positive results if implemented correctly and consistently.
Here in Part 2, we offer seven tips to ensure your agency effectively implements your chosen retention strategies and impacts positive change.
Implementing a new caregiver retention strategy
Strategy implementation is the process by which your home care agency translates its chosen strategies into action plans, goals and activities. This will help steer you in the direction set out by the strategy and enable your agency to achieve its strategic objectives.
The implementation process for new strategies is often neglected. Problems encountered typically lie not with any flaws in the plans themselves but rather in a failure to implement them effectively. Such failures can mean that strategic initiatives are only partially successful and lead to frustration as the much-hoped-for strategic benefits are not fully realized.
The points below aim to provide guidance on ways you can achieve optimal strategy implementation for your home care agency.
1. Do your homework
Before you can implement any new strategies effectively, you need to have a clear idea of what those strategies will be and why they will be valuable for your agency.
It is good practice to take a detailed look at the landscape of your competitors, what they are offering, what your demographics look like, and what your current caregivers value. Doing your homework and having a clear view of the landscape will allow you to identify specific ways your agency can become more competitive in recruiting, engaging and retaining talented caregivers.
Before finalizing your strategy, ask:
- Are there retention methods we are already using that work well?
- Are there methods that are not working – can we improve them, or should we discard them?
- What do we need to add?
- What’s the biggest challenge we face in implementing these strategies?
Where appropriate, it can also be beneficial to network at this planning stage, joining together with other agencies to share strategy ideas and approaches.
2. Ensure your retention strategies align with your agency’s culture
Your agency’s culture is the set of values, beliefs, attitudes, goals and other characteristics that you follow to create a positive and gratifying work environment. It is one of the key factors that drives the behavior of the employees you depend upon to execute any new strategies.
Agency culture is a living element that affects all aspects of your business – from the way you conduct interviews to the way you onboard new caregivers and how you manage and reward your staff—everything ties into your human resources infrastructure.
It is crucial before implementing any new strategies to ensure they align with your agency’s culture. Studies have found that culture and strategy alignment account for 71% of the difference between high and low performing organizations regarding revenue growth, profitability, employee engagement, client loyalty and leadership effectiveness.
3. Communicate the strategy clearly and effectively
When implementing any strategic plan, an agency’s internal communication strategy can make or break the efforts. To make sure you are communicating clearly and effectively:
- Present your plan in different ways – don’t rely on written communication alone
- Make your message clear, relevant and straightforward – be transparent
- Start with your vision (establish the problem you are aiming to solve with your strategy)
- Set clear and measurable objectives – what specific metrics will be used to measure success
- Break down the strategic goals and inputs
- Outline clear milestones/timeline
- Identify ownership. A crucial part of implementing any strategy is for everyone involved to understand what their responsibilities are. When individuals on your team have a sense of ownership, they are more likely to rise to the challenge. Any confusion about who ‘owns’ what can lead to missed opportunities, roadblocks in productivity, and a general lack of efficiency.
- Keep communication flowing in both directions and be open to suggestions from your team about how the strategic plan is affecting them.
Once the strategy is communicated, it is up to you to make sure everyone stays on track and aligned with the set goals. It should not be necessary to micro-manage, but you do need to be present. This will help you address any problems as soon as they arise and foster credibility within your team.
Using technology like SMARTcare software is a great way to maximize communication within your agency. It will allow your team to view the strategy, understand the measures driving it and interact with the processes via action items and reporting – accessible on all devices and available in the cloud. Learn more about how you can improve your agency’s internal communication and make strategy implementation a positive experience for all with SMARTcare software.
4. Start by doing one thing well
As you begin to implement the different elements of your retention strategy, it is essential to remember that the whole strategy is greater than the sum of its parts. While each part of your retention strategy may only make a small impression, collectively, they will all add up to create a significant impact.
You cannot achieve the results you need by taking a single approach to caregiver retention. Ultimately, you need a multi-faceted approach.
The good news is, you can start making a positive impact right away by mastering one technique – and then add to that. Start by implementing one thing well and build your strategy up in manageable steps for minimum disruption and maximum results.
5. Allocate a budget and resources
Having a budget dedicated to your caregiver retention strategy is a surefire way to guarantee its implementation will be successful.
Allocating a budget and resources to your strategy not only ensures you can deliver on essentials like training and rewarding your caregivers but also sends a clear message to your caregivers that your agency cares.
6. Utilize the right tools and technology
Sometimes, as great as an idea for a caregiver retention strategy sounds, it never gets off the ground because it is just too difficult to implement.
This is where the right software tools can make a significant difference.
For example, SMARTcare software has tools that focus specifically on caregiver engagement and retention that you can use to quickly and effectively implement your strategies. Existing customers report retention levels significantly higher than the rest of the industry. SMARTcare provides a range of retention strategy tools, including:
- an intelligent caregiver application tracking system, with employment screening, to support and simplify recruitment and hiring processes
- machine learning (ML) and unique matching algorithms to identify better matches between caregivers and clients/patients, increasing caregiver and client satisfaction
- a mobile point-of-care app to engage caregivers, providing solutions that use best-practice workflows to make delivering care easier and improve outcomes
- a user-friendly scheduling system, with text, email, chat or messaging shift reminders
- embedded loyalty tools to keep caregivers connected and motivated
Using the right technologies can present a sizable advantage to innovative home care agencies that are serious about implementing robust caregiver retention strategies.
7. Monitor and measure retention to manage it
What gets measured gets well managed.
While the concept of an effective caregiver retention strategy is important, many home care agencies are not taking the time or effort to monitor and measure their actions in order to improve them.
When implementing your retention strategies, it is vital to monitor and measure the data to know how well your approaches are working. Ideally, you should have systems in place to calculate 30-day, 90-day, 180-day and annual retention. Five retention KPIs that will help your home care agency operate more efficiently:
- turnover rate (broken down by first 30 days, 31-90, 91-180+ to get a better picture of where you need to focus)
- OSAT (Overall caregiver satisfaction)
- Caregiver average length of service (how long your caregivers stay)
- Caregiver LTV (Caregiver lifetime value they are bringing to your agency)
- Turnover/termination reasons (track to trend over time).
This data gives you all the information you need about how well your retention strategy implementation plan is working. More importantly, it allows you to make better decisions and refine your systems over time, rather than relying on your intuition or personal opinions. For example, if 30-day retention significantly drops, then recruiting and onboarding are the likely culprits. If 180-day retention is up, it would indicate that your caregivers are happy once settled in, for example:
- ongoing communications between back-office staff and caregivers has improved
- caregiver-client matching is on point
- training and coaching programs are adequate
- recognition and reward strategies are working well
- agency culture is strong, and your team is motivated.
Collecting and analyzing caregiver retention data, in addition to listening to feedback from your caregivers regularly, will provide all the information you need to make strategic adjustments and guarantee retention success over time.
Caregiver retention is an ongoing challenge for every home care agency – no matter how big or small.
Introducing strategies to improve caregiver retention is gradual. Your strategy needs an ongoing, consistent effort for long-term success. It takes a committed plan, implemented consistently with the right office staff to achieve success. Agencies doing this well are proving that it is possible to lower turnover. Your persistence and patience will be rewarded!
If you would like more information about any of the software solutions mentioned above, please contact us today. A member of our team will be happy to discuss ways in which we may be of benefit.