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Caregiver Retention: Making the First 30 Days Count

Published on May 13, 2022 by Sharon Morrisette

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Caregiver retention continues to be a key challenge in the home care industry for agencies of all types and sizes. Turnover can be a huge expense for agencies and a major obstacle to growth.  

Currently, it is estimated that 80% of caregiver turnover occurs within the first 90 days of employment, with a significant portion of those leaving within the first 30 days. The good news is that these statistics are almost entirely preventable.

Ensuring your new hire caregivers’ first 30 days with your agency are a success needs to be your top priority if you want to improve retention significantly.

Here are ten ways to keep your caregivers happy, engaged and motivated – and make those first 30 days count:

1. Optimize your hiring process

When a caregiver joins your team, you should already be confident they are an excellent fit for your home care agency, due to an effective hiring process. Equally, they should have an accurate picture of what working at your agency will be like, and what is expected of them in their role. There should be no surprises on either side once the hire is made!

You can improve your hiring process, starting with great job posts and detailed job descriptions that accurately reflect what you are looking for. These play a crucial role in attracting the best-fit candidates from the start and weeding out those who are unsuitable or don’t align with your agency’s culture.

A good, mobile-friendly application process is also essential to attract top talent. An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can help considerably to speed up your hiring process and manage applicants through the pipeline for quick and easy processing.

2. Master the art of great orientation

orientation new employee

However incredible your agency is to work for, if you start the caregiver experience by issuing weighty handbooks and 20 different forms to fill out, your agency’s brand reputation will instantly die – along with the caregivers’ enthusiasm and engagement.

Orientation is a vital stage to get right within the first week of a new hire joining your agency. It lays the foundations for their new role and should include:

  • Introductions to your agency and teams
  • Reinforcing job requirements and responsibilities
  • Detailing company policies and procedures
  • Full details around pay, benefits, work expectations, scheduling, etc. 
  • Dealing with essential paperwork, system log-ins, and passwords, equipment use, recordkeeping, health, and safety, etc.
  • Conveying agency culture and values
  • Answering questions or concerns new hires may have.

Successful orientation provides your caregivers with a secure platform to begin their new role, speeding up the integration process, and managing their expectations.

3. Enhance your onboarding process

A common retention mistake agency owners make is beginning their retention efforts after a caregiver’s first shift rather than in the days leading up to it. If you want your caregivers to stay around longer than 30 days, you have to start from day one.

Studies show new hires that experience a positive onboarding experience are 70% more likely to continue working for an agency for three+ years. Your onboarding process should set the tone for the quality of training your caregivers will receive throughout their time with your agency for maximum retention success – and, ideally, be paid time.

4. Ensure ‘first visit’ success

Another mistake agencies make is to rush through the onboarding process to get new caregivers to their first shift as quickly as possible. However, well-paced caregiver orientation and onboarding help new hires to feel more confident and prepared for their first shift and reinforce that they’re working for an employee-focused agency.

This, combined with careful caregiver-client matching, will help guarantee a better caregiver experience – and a better experience for your clients/patients.

Ensure that your new caregivers are given adequate (paid) time to complete all paperwork, receive the proper training, and meet with your agency’s schedulers/coordinators before starting their first shift.

5. Provide a mentor

A practical solution to prevent early dropouts within the first 30 days is to invest in a caregiver mentoring program.

A well-implemented mentoring program not only supports new caregivers in their roles but also increases job satisfaction, reduces turnover, delivers higher-quality care to clients, increases experienced caregiver retention, and contributes to taking your agency to the next level.

6. Check in, frequently

Open communication - Smartcare Software

According to the 2021 Home Care Benchmarking Study, lack of communication is a top caregiver complaint. 57% of caregivers left an agency due to poor communication from their agency managers.

Establish regular, open communication from the start, so that each caregiver is well looked after and feels like an important cog in the machine. For example:

  • In the first few weeks, send daily texts to show your caregiver that you’re involved in their employment experience and there to support them.
  • Once settled in, you can reduce texts/emails to once/twice a week. Mentors can handle touching base with new hires regularly if you have a mentoring program.
  • Schedule weekly phone/video check-in calls to make sure expectations are being met and to deal with any problems or concerns quickly.  
  • Set up regular feedback sessions where you can listen to your caregivers’ feedback and resolve any issues. This could be through a more formal coaching program if you have one in place.
  • Use technology to keep your caregivers connected and engaged, for example, Smartcare’s HIPAA compliant chat, messaging, and other communication tools.

7. Provide flexible scheduling

One in four caregivers lives below the poverty line and will have no option but to leave your agency if they aren’t scheduled the hours they need to pay the bills. Therefore, regularly review if your caregivers’ have enough shifts and show that your agency prioritizes their financial needs and emotional well-being.

Try to be flexible with your scheduling to accommodate caregivers who have other obligations to fulfill. Make sure your schedulers record the minimum and the maximum number of hours each caregiver can be scheduled to avoid under- or overloading them.

You can optimize your scheduling operations and minimize mistakes using the right software, like Smartcare Software scheduling tools.

8. Provide all the tools they need to succeed

Modernizing your operations with mobile technology and software tools can make work more rewarding for caregivers and help prevent burnout.

Tech tools that support caregivers on the job are ideal for enhancing the caregiver experience, including better communication, scheduling solutions, simplified care management, improved caregiver-client matching, and more.

Home care agencies that leverage technology can significantly impact caregiver satisfaction and retention – delivering time-efficient and cost-effective results.

9. Offer continuing training opportunities

While 94% of employees reported they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development, only 66% of home care providers currently invest in professional training programs.

Beyond the essentials, be sure your new caregivers have access to training related to their day-to-day interactions with clients. For example, if assigning a dementia client, provide additional training on patient interaction and safety. This additional training both supports retention and minimizes risk.

Offering a comprehensive training program, that provides both online and hands-on training to accommodate different schedules and learning styles, will boost retention from day one. 

10. Recognize and reward success

Recognize and reward success - Smartcare Software

Recognition and reward are powerful tools for retaining top talent and keeping your caregivers motivated and happy. Therefore, it is essential to cultivate a culture of recognition from the start.

Embedded loyalty tools can simplify this process, making the job more than just a paycheck. For example, Smartcare’s Caregiver Rewards system offers rewards for meeting ideal performance criteria.

You can also offer bonuses as a reward incentive, for example, staggered at different stages of longevity, starting with a caregiver’s 30-day anniversary.

While the root causes of turnover can be complex, there are recurring trends and actionable solutions to overcome the major challenges. The key lies in improving the caregiver experience you provide from day one. It’s easy for caregivers to stay with an agency far longer than 30 days when they feel respected and supported, and their needs are being met.

To learn more about Smartcare Software tools that will support your efforts to improve caregiver retention, please get in touch with us for more details or request a free demo. We are here to support you every step of the way.