In an earlier blog, we discussed the significant role that creating a positive agency culture can play for home care agencies looking to improve results in recruitment and hiring, caregiver engagement and retention, productivity and efficiency, client/patient outcomes, and caregiver/client referrals.
An often overlooked but crucial element when creating a positive agency culture is promoting a culture of care, which can offer major benefits to sustainable business development and growth.
What is a culture of care, and why does it matter?
A culture of care is about how a company treats its employees and clients/patients, where caring is a priority. It is ingrained in the DNA of successful, standout businesses.
It is about creating a person-centered, inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected – from your clients/patients and their families, to your caregivers, office staff, referral partners, and management teams.
When everyone involved with your agency feels a sense of belonging and that you genuinely care about them, you actively encourage positive contribution, engagement, motivation, and satisfaction.
A culture of care can affect all aspects of an agency. From the types of applicants you attract to the way your employees interact with each other (and your clients), how they go about their daily tasks, how decisions are made, etc. It definitely delivers a competitive advantage when done well.
Those agencies looking to increase client/patient satisfaction and loyalty, caregiver engagement and retention, and stand out in the increasingly competitive home care market, really can’t afford to overlook the value of a culture of care in 2022.
How can home care agencies promote a culture of care?
Creating a culture of care isn’t something that will magically happen overnight. It requires careful planning and follow-through by agency owners and management. However, there are plenty of ways to make a positive start towards it.
Here are eight ways to start promoting a culture of care in your home care agency today:
1. Start with your hiring process
All agencies know the high costs of recruitment and hiring – especially if they are also experiencing high turnover rates. It is vital to attract and hire employees who are the right fit for your agency and reduce churn as much as possible.
In creating a culture of care and promoting it throughout your hiring process, your agency will attract and retain more top talent that aligns with your mission statement and helps you build a more sustainable workforce over time.
You can advertise your culture of care through your job postings, job descriptions, screening, interview process, onboarding, and beyond. Also, consider a referral program for your current employees so that they can refer new hires. Your existing staff is likely a great fit for your agency culture and will know others who will meet your requirements and enhance your team.
2. Get to know your team and their evolving needs
Whatever size of agency you are running, a culture of care requires that you/your management team spend time getting to know every team member, what motivates them, what they are finding challenging, and areas in which you need to improve.
This can be through regular one-to-one meetings, coaching sessions, feedback forms, team-building activities, etc. It’s important to ask, listen, gather feedback, and act on that feedback promptly, where appropriate. This is one way to guarantee every team member feels seen, heard, and valued.
The same processes can be applied to your clients/patients and their families, to boost client satisfaction and loyalty.
3. Improve communication channels
To build ongoing personal relationships with your employees and clients, and ensure a positive employee/client experience for all, requires consistent two-way communication. There are many ways that your agency can facilitate this, depending on your setup, including weekly check-in calls, automated texts, virtual visits, and more.
Since the pandemic, there are now more tech tools available than ever before to support communication between remote workers, office staff, agency management, and clients/patients and their families. So there really is no excuse for poor communication!
4. Set up mentoring, upskilling and coaching programs
A 2021 Home Care Benchmarking Study revealed that over 57% of caregivers leave an agency within the first 90 days of their employment due to a lack of adequate support from the agency. (The two top complaints are a lack of communication and a lack of training.)
Agencies already invested in a culture of care are unlikely to be facing this challenge. They have training programs in place to support each team member in their career development and run caregiver mentoring programs, upskilling opportunities, and/or regular coaching sessions. All of these options play a vital role in connecting your employees to your agency (and each other), showing that you care about them and their growth, and generating a strong sense of unity and belonging.
Agencies using a culture of care to engage, support, and empower their teams enjoy higher employee satisfaction scores, higher client/patient satisfaction scores, and higher retention across the board.
5. Ensure your employees have all the tools they need to succeed
In addition to a robust training/development program and flexible scheduling, it’s essential to make sure your caregivers and office staff have the right tools for the jobs you are asking them to perform. This is a vital component of showing that you care.
A culture of care means that your agency provides tech tools and practical items necessary to simplify tasks and help your employees work more efficiently. For example, scheduling software to help your schedulers/coordinators, EVV tools to optimize caregivers’ mobile workflow and ensure compliance, payroll management software, and an ATS to simplify the entire hiring process.
As you and your management team get to know your employees better and gather feedback on what they need to succeed, you will know which tools are necessary to invest in.
6. Celebrate success – recognition and reward
In addition to providing all the tools necessary for your teams to succeed, recognizing success and celebrating it shows your employees that you are paying attention to the time and effort they are investing in their jobs.
In today’s world, we often focus on the future and race towards the next goal that needs to be achieved, forgetting to appreciate the present. As a result, we can feel stressed, exhausted, and ultimately burnt out – losing our initial enthusiasm and motivation.
In a culture of care, agency owners and managers recognize the importance of stopping once in a while to reflect and celebrate the successes – giving recognition and reward where it is due.
Several studies have found that this approach brings significant benefits. For example, reflecting on (and celebrating) successes results in teams that are more engaged and motivated, less stressed, and have an increased sense of well-being – regardless of age, socioeconomic factors, education, or gender.
7. Model your culture of care from the top down
The mood set by home care agency owners and management teams will largely dictate the culture throughout an agency at all levels. Those who demonstrate positivity, a culture of care, and emphasize their agency’s values will naturally influence everyone on the team to do the same.
Outstanding leadership is about setting a good example, inspiring your employees, actively demonstrating what you expect from them, and supporting them with enthusiasm. How you behave and how you treat your teams will send a very clear message – positive or negative!
Leading by example is key to achieving your ‘culture of care’ goals.
8. Continue to measure progress and adjust your plan as you go
After putting in the hard work, it’s essential to regularly explore areas for improvement and continually refine your culture as employee and client/patient needs evolve.
It can be challenging to measure progress with something like agency culture because it doesn’t have a specific metric to track. You can, however, track and measure metrics that you know a culture of care will impact, such as caregiver job satisfaction, client/patient satisfaction, client turnover, caregiver/office staff retention, and so on.
According to a recent study of over 1,100 small and medium-sized businesses, measuring progress is a characteristic of successful companies. The fastest-growing companies were up to 50% more likely to use three or more performance measurement metrics.
Significant parts of a home care agency’s culture of care are influenced by the effectiveness and efficiency of its office systems. At Smartcare Software, we understand the many challenges faced in the home care industry and how important it is to create a positive company culture to realize many of your goals. Call us today to find out how our home care software can help you promote a culture of care, or request a free demo.