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Creating a Caregiver Referral Program as Part of a Cost-Effective Recruitment Strategy

Published on July 26, 2022 by Sharon Morrisette

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All home care providers know that recruiting and hiring caregivers takes significant time, effort, and resources. It can be one of the most expensive aspects of running a home care business, especially when caregiver turnover is high.

One effective way to increase your pipeline of new caregivers and save on hiring costs is through employee referrals. 

While these referrals can happen organically, implementing a structured caregiver referral program is a more proactive and effective way to keep those referrals coming in, in an organized and consistent manner. 

Home care providers with successful caregiver referral programs have more control over organizing, quantifying, and driving their recruitment efforts. And, it is a highly cost-effective recruitment strategy to boot!

How to create a successful caregiver referral program 

1. Make sure your existing caregiver experience is excellent

Before setting up a caregiver referral program, home care providers must ensure that their current caregivers are happy, satisfied, and have a favorable view of working for the company. Without this solid foundation, it will just be a waste of time and resources, as unhappy employees are highly unlikely to refer others.

As well as seeking feedback from your current caregivers, look to your company culture. This is a defining part of your caregivers’ experience – along with the physical and technological work environment – and determines how satisfied any caregiver will be within your company.

To create a successful caregiver referral program to help recruit and retain the best, your first priority is ensuring that your business provides an excellent caregiver experience.

2. Set clear, data-driven goals

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Establishing SMART goals from the start, along with the associated metric(s) for each goal, is essential. In this way, you will have clear insights into the success of your referral program and be able to make data-driven business decisions to improve it over time. 

What do you want to achieve by creating this referral program? How many referrals do you need weekly/monthly to meet your goals? Are your goals linked to caregiver retention, engagement, business growth, and/or revenue?  

Being crystal clear when defining goals will ensure you design a program that is unique to your home care business and gets you the results you’re looking for.

3. Identify your hiring needs and make sure employees know about them

Creating an outline of the types of caregivers you’re looking to recruit can be helpful when developing your referral program. Think specifically about the available roles, the qualifications and qualities needed, the days/hours required, etc. Once your referral program is running smoothly, you can update this as regularly as you need to.

Make sure your employees have access to these job descriptions so they know what you are looking for too! This helps your employees identify best-fit candidates within their network and will save recruiters/HR time and effort by limiting the number of unsuitable referrals sent.

Being clear on what you are looking for – and ensuring your caregivers know the types of candidates needed – will help ensure they make first class recommendations. 

4. Keep the referral process simple and consistent 

referral process simple and consistent

Word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways to attract best-fit candidates, but making the referral process consistent and user-friendly is essential. Make sure everyone understands the process and that it’s the same for every referral, every time, to guarantee success.

5. Promote your program

You cannot afford to leave it to chance that employees will sign up for your program. You must promote the program so caregivers can get on board, begin making referrals, and take advantage of the incentives on offer.

An internal communication strategy is key here and should ideally take a two-pronged approach:

  • Ongoing communication helps keep the program front of mind and generates sustained interest and effort from your caregivers. 

Send out monthly/quarterly reminders about your referral program with information on how it (and the incentives) works. You can also acknowledge and celebrate good referrers at this time, as public recognition will encourage and motivate your caregivers to keep on advocating. Deliver these communications via newsletter, email, text, or during monthly team meetings in person/via videoconferencing. 

  • Callouts for specific positions can be made via phone calls, text, social media channels, and your website. These inform caregivers of new positions as soon as they become available, describing the role, ideal candidate, time frame, etc. 

Try out different types of internal communications to spread the word, and see which resonates best with your caregiver team. Ask for feedback to help make the process even better.

6. Choose a good mix of incentives and pay them out promptly

Choose a good mix of incentives and pay them out promptly

Work out what will best motivate your caregivers to join the program and offer a combination of incentives to suit a variety of needs (e.g., cash bonuses, paid vacation time, gift cards, etc.). You can, of course, ask your caregivers for suggestions.

Any incentives must have a perceived high value but be cost-effective for your program to work. Remember, the average caregiver costs $2,600 to hire and train, so any incentives offered for referrals are still likely to save money in the long run.

Once decided, ensure all employees clearly understand the incentives available, how to earn them, and when they’ll be received (e.g., when the new referral is hired, when they’ve been with the company for a specific time, etc.).

It’s important to deliver the rewards promptly once earned to help increase participation in the program and allow your caregivers to see the immediate value in referring new candidates. Also, rewarding your caregivers for any referrals they make contributes to a culture of reciprocity and generates a sense of loyalty to your company. 

7. Track results to identify ways to improve

It will take time to perfect your caregiver referral program and reach the goals you set out at the start. Like any recruitment strategy, you will need to track performance to get an accurate view of what’s working well and where improvements are required. 

As your program will follow a sequence of steps, tracking general metrics is relatively easy, especially if you utilize the right software tools designed to capture this information, like an ATS. For example:

  • percentage of new hires coming from referrals versus other methods
  • percentage of caregivers participating in the program
  • length of time referrals stay versus other hires.

Your caregivers know your organization and its culture and can speak to the business brand better than anyone. As a result, they are the most trusted advocates of your company.

When you use your own talented team of caregivers to find new hires, the benefits can far outweigh the costs of setting up and maintaining the program.

A caregiver referral program can elevate many parts of your business and is one of the most cost-effective ways to boost your pipeline of quality candidates, increase caregiver engagement, strengthen your brand and increase retention

It could be precisely what your home care business needs to stand out from the competition in 2022.

Please contact us or request a free demo to learn more about setting up a caregiver referral program and how Smartcare Software tools can support your efforts.