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Creating Caregiver Career Paths to Boost Caregiver Recruitment and Retention

Published on March 21, 2023 by Sharon Morrisette

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Studies show that 94 percent of employees would stay with their current employer if they invested in their careers. Today’s workforce wants to see a path for growth within their organization, with clear performance benchmarks and progression opportunities – and home care is no exception. 

Having a structured approach to training, including career pathing, is proven to be very attractive to caregivers and to reduce turnover significantly. It’s a great selling point for any home care provider.

In addition, by supporting career development in this way, home care providers ensure their care teams have the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to seize any new business opportunities – and meet tomorrow’s challenges head-on.

In this article, we look at the value of creating caregiver career paths to attract, engage, and retain top-talented caregivers – to help your home care business thrive in 2023.

What is a caregiver career path?

A caregiver career path is a long-term plan that includes a series of jobs or roles – either through an industry or a specific organization – that will help your caregivers to reach their desired career goals.

Home care providers with a positive employer brand typically help their caregivers to develop a career path or map as part of their employee development process based on each individual’s career values and personal goals. 

scheduler given recognition_

They work with their employees to define their goals; identify additional training, education, or work experiences needed to achieve those goals; provide the resources, support, and rewards necessary to guarantee success, and regularly review progress. 

Unlike traditional career ladders, career paths tend to take a broader approach. They can be ‘vertical’ or ‘horizontal,’ depending on your caregivers’ preferences, aspirations, and the opportunities available within your home care business.

Vertical career paths

These are linear and can include movement in both directions, to higher- or lower-level positions, within your home care business. The direction will depend on each caregiver’s desire to increase or decrease their job responsibilities and time commitment – due to their individual circumstances. 

For example, caregivers may work towards earning professional certification, upskill to become a specialist in certain areas (such as dementia care or companionship care), or develop skills needed to become a mentor to new hires. 

The level of flexibility is most appealing in these scenarios, as it allows caregivers to take many different routes throughout their employment journey with your business – and potentially increase their salary – keeping employee engagement, motivation, and satisfaction high. 

Horizontal career paths

This type of career path involves lateral movement – within or across industries – that allows caregivers to learn new skills or have different experiences to achieve their personal or career goals. 

For example, a caregiver may decide they want to reskill and work towards being an office-based scheduler, a member of your HR team specializing in onboarding new hires, a home-care assessment professional to evaluate new clients and consult with clients’ families, or the first point of contact for community referral partners.

While these can be more difficult career paths for smaller home care businesses to implement, they do mean you get to retain valued team members who understand your business and have already proven their loyalty and worth – rather than expending time and money on hiring someone new.

What are the benefits of creating caregiver career paths?

A career in caregiving can be long and rewarding, offering many different paths to explore. While some caregivers are content to remain in the same position for many years, most crave the opportunity to learn new skills, take on new challenges, and try out new roles. 

Creating career paths benefits your caregiver team in numerous ways, including improved morale, higher engagement, and increased job satisfaction.

But it’s not just your caregivers who benefit.

Home care providers that currently provide caregiver career paths report a range of business benefits that include higher caregiver recruitment and retention levels, as well as:

benefits of creating caregiver career paths
  • Increased employee engagement
  • A loyal, resilient, performance-driven care team
  • Higher workplace motivation and productivity, boosting overall operations
  • Opportunities for hiring internally – saving time and cost
  • Improved existing client/patient and family satisfaction
  • The attraction of new clients through offering higher quality care and specialist services
  • A rise in referrals
  • Enhanced employer brand reputation, attracting top-talented caregivers
  • Positive company culture and unity 
  • Reaching short- and long-term goals with lower turnover – steady business growth.

While caregiver career pathing does require an upfront investment of time and energy, it can pay enormous dividends for your home care business in the long term.

Investing in caregiver training programs that support career paths is not only a powerful tool for caregiver recruitment, engagement, and retention but also a highly effective marketing tool to help your home care business grow and thrive in today’s highly competitive market.

Caregiver training

How to create caregiver career paths

It’s never too early to start creating caregiver career paths. It’s never too late, either!

Whether you’re creating career paths for new hire, novice caregivers, or more experienced, advanced caregivers already on your team, the same process can be followed.

Aim to work through these eight simple steps to create effective and fulfilling career paths to meet all your caregivers’ goals and aspirations:

  • Initiate career path conversations, which include clear guidelines on what to expect from the process, its aims, and how progress will be evaluated.
  • Work with each caregiver to identify core career values and personal goals. This step should also examine any pain points, concerns, and desires related to growing their careers.
  • Discuss the fields and niche areas they are interested in pursuing to identify specific growth and development opportunities. If moves into new roles are identified, such as becoming a scheduler or recruiter, it may help to facilitate shadowing a colleague in this role for a day or two, to be sure!

    This step can also include sharing relevant company goals to see if opportunities are coming up that your caregiver might be interested in. For example, if your home care business is looking to move into a niche area such as companionship care or will be implementing new technology that requires new skill sets.
  • Assess current skill sets, experience, education, and interests. You are looking to define the baseline of how their existing skill set aligns with their areas of interest for future growth and which skills gaps need to be addressed.
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  • Work together to outline career goals for maximum job satisfaction. This initial goals assessment should tie in what they are already good at, what they need to improve, or new skills they need to acquire.
  • Consider basic salary needs, weekly available hours, and personal desires. 
  • Once all the necessary information is gathered, you can work together to map out the concrete steps needed over the next 3-5 years to help the caregiver move forward to reach their career goals. This should include SMART goals.

    Each career plan should also cover hard and soft skills, experiences, education, and training that need developing within agreed time frames. Look to see which of these can be achieved with internal resources (such as mentorship and coaching) and where external support is required (e.g., professional development courses). Also, ensure a good balance of formal education and hands-on experience, as appropriate.
  • Revisit and review milestones regularly – adjusting goals and time frames if needs, preferences, or circumstances change along the way. Adaptability is essential to guarantee your caregivers are set up for success.

These steps can be integrated easily into your existing performance review process. However, for maximum results, you may need to provide some additional training for managers or HR staff on how to develop and manage caregiver career paths effectively.

For more helpful tips and creative ideas on how to improve your caregiver recruitment and retention efforts by investing in their career progression, please read our earlier article on caregiver training and development

How Smartcare Software can help

Smartcare Software is intuitive to use and tailored for each user’s experience – from caregivers and schedulers to back-office staff and administrators – giving each employee the tools they need to succeed in their role.

Smartcare customers see some of the highest caregiver retention rates in home care, leading to stronger connections with the employer, better outcomes, and improved bottom lines. Our users have up to three times greater caregiver retention rates than the industry average. 

For more information on how Smartcare Software tools can help your home care business unlock the solutions to caregiver recruitment and retention in 2023, please contact us today or request a free demo.