As a home care agency, you are ultimately responsible for the wellbeing of your clients/patients, as well as the welfare of your staff. The two are inextricably linked.
The quality of the caregivers and office staff on your team, and how they feel about working for your agency, will directly impact the quality of care they deliver to your clients.
With this in mind, the culture that you build and promote as a home care agency owner needs to be part of your employer brand as well as the filter you use for all employee management processes.
As a result of investing time and resources into creating a positive agency culture, you will see improvements across multiple areas of your home care business, including:
- Better results in recruitment and hiring
- Higher caregiver (and office staff) engagement, loyalty, and retention
- Increased productivity and efficiency, with lower absenteeism / missed shifts
- Positive client/patient outcomes and increased client satisfaction
- Increased caregiver and client referrals
- Reduced company costs and increased profits over time.
But how do you build and promote a positive agency culture?
1. Identify your agency’s core values
A company’s culture can be defined by a wide range of factors, including its values, attitudes, beliefs, habits, behaviors, and office systems. All of these factors together create the ‘personality’ and experience of your home care agency.
When building a positive culture, a good place to start is to identify four or five core values or principles. These will be the foundation for everything that happens at your agency and lead your agency’s growth and development. Remember to include employees to help with this process to ensure they are involved and invested from the beginning.
Once you have a clear idea of what you want, your agency’s culture should impact most of your business decisions, including how you lead, market, and recruit – so it’s important to get this first step right!
If your agency already has a clear set of values, make sure you revisit and review these regularly to see if any updates are needed to reflect the changing home care landscape or provide better client/patient and staff satisfaction.
2. Create a positive candidate experience that reflects your culture
First impressions count, so it’s essential that your recruitment and hiring processes reflect your agency culture and give a flavor of the overall work environment you will be providing.
In today’s job market, employees are increasingly looking to work for agencies that reflect their personal values and career goals, so being clear on your agency culture right from the start, will mean you’re attracting and engaging candidates that already fit with your vision.
However, it’s important to remember that you want to develop and grow your agency and its culture – and not remain static – so when hiring, you should also be looking out for candidates who are ‘culture adds’ and not just ‘culture fits.’ This means identifying candidates who share your core values but can also bring new and unique perspectives that will enhance your team.
3. Ensure your onboarding highlights your agency culture
Engaging employee orientation, onboarding, and training processes that highlight your agency culture are essential to helping your new recruits feel engaged and passionate about working with your home care agency.
The more connected new employees feel with your agency and overall work environment from the very start, the higher the chances that they will be with you for the long term – which can significantly impact retention rates and employee referrals.
4. Set up a mentorship program
Whether for new employees and/or those looking for career development, being matched with a more experienced staff member for feedback, guidance, upskilling, and training on the job can significantly increase job satisfaction and employee retention.
Your agency culture is strongly reflected in how you treat your clients/patients, and employees. Setting up a mentorship program is a very clear signal that you care about them and are invested in their long-term future with your agency.
5. Develop an employee recognition program
Part of great company culture is ensuring all employees feel recognized and valued for their contribution to your home care agency’s success.
Recognizing and rewarding members of your team – individually and collectively – for performing well or going above and beyond motivates them to continue achieving outstanding results and has a positive impact on the quality of care your client/patients receive.
6. Create a healthy workplace
Working in home care can be a stressful business that can often lead to burnout. Therefore, home care agencies must be aware of the many contributing factors to staff stress levels, including those directly linked with how their agency is managed.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) suggests that healthy employees ‘focus actively on creating and maintaining a balance and synergy of physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, personal, and professional wellbeing.’
Your agency culture should support a healthy workplace, full of healthy employees, which can be achieved in multiple ways, including:
- Offering greater workplace flexibility, e.g., caregiver scheduling
- Supplying equipment/tools needed to do the job safely and efficiently
- Encouraging open communication
- Providing support networks, including mentorships
- Making time management training available
- Promoting a healthy work-life balance
- Facilitating team-building events and social activities
- Investing in technology to simplify care management and recording.
Regularly checking in with your employees and having a culture of transparency will help you to know where your time and resources can be best spent to build and support a healthy workplace.
7. Communicate regularly
One of the best ways to promote your culture and show that your home care agency genuinely cares about its caregivers, office staff, and clients is through regular communication through texts, emails, phone calls, monthly meetings, etc.
This may include care plan updates, shift changes, new services, or thanks for a job well done – or serve to check up on their wellbeing and collect feedback on any issues they’re currently facing.
Communication should also be encouraged between peers, different departments, and clients/patients and their families. Human connection in home care is vital and your agency culture should embrace and support this.
For larger agencies, this can be a time-consuming and costly affair. However, the right technology tools can be used to automate some communication exchanges while still maintaining that all-important personal touch.
8. Welcome all feedback
Creating a positive culture in the workplace, where everyone feels valued and respected, is vital to any agency’s success. It’s essential to listen, demonstrate flexibility and adapt to the ever-changing needs of your employees, clients/patients, and families.
To promote a positive agency culture, all staff and clients/patients should feel that their feedback is welcomed and will be taken seriously. This feedback helps your agency cultivate a great work experience and ensure the highest quality of care is maintained.
There are many ways to set up feedback channels to help you measure and monitor staff, client/patient, and family satisfaction – such as surveys, polls, and in-app feedback – and leverage the data to continually enhance your agency’s performance.
9. Lead by example
The tone set by home care agency owners and their management teams will largely dictate the culture that prevails throughout an agency at all levels. Those who exemplify positivity and emphasize their agency’s values will naturally influence everyone on the team to do the same.
Good leadership is about demonstrating what you want your employees to do, setting a good example, inspiring them, and supporting them to do things willingly and with enthusiasm.
10. Try new things and innovate
A good home care agency culture should never remain stagnant. Instead, it should encourage trying different ways of doing something, investing in new technology, and being creative in finding new solutions. This mindset will keep your agency fresh and way ahead of the competition.
It’s essential to regularly identify areas for improvement and continually refine your culture as employee and client/patient needs evolve. You can also support your agency’s long-term success by adapting your culture as the home care landscape evolves.
Whether you’re starting out as a new agency or looking to grow your existing one, there is one thing that you can’t afford to overlook – company culture. Creating a positive agency culture can take time, but getting it right can be key to delivering the highest quality home care and guaranteeing caregiver, client/patient, and family satisfaction and retention.
A large part of a home care agency’s culture will be influenced by its office systems. At Smartcare Software, we understand home care industry challenges and the importance of creating a positive company culture. Call us today to find out how our home care software can help improve your agency culture – or request a free demo.