The latest Home Care Pulse Benchmark Study reveals that while demand for home care services has been greater than ever in 2021, caregiver turnover is an ongoing problem.
This has resulted in many home care agencies having to turn clients away due to staffing shortages. At a time that is rich with opportunities for business growth, it remains crucial for agencies to find solutions to recruiting new caregivers – and retaining them once they’re on board.
Here we look at the value of training and development in attracting, engaging, and retaining caregivers – to help your home care agency beat the competition in 2022.
Why invest in training?
The same benchmark study shows that there is a new number 1 reason why caregivers left agencies in 2021 – lack of training.
This underutilized lever for caregiver recruitment and retention has already been recognized by 40% of agencies, which are developing training programs to offer appealing career and personal growth opportunities for their caregivers and back-office staff.
These agencies are not only benefiting from higher caregiver retention levels through better training but are also:
- Boosting operations overall
- Attracting new clients by offering a higher quality of consistent care and specialist services
- Seeing a rise in referrals
- Improving existing client/patient satisfaction
- Enhancing their agency reputation, attracting new caregivers
- Building company culture and unity across the agency
- Seeing steady business growth.
Over time, it is clear to see that investing in a training program is not only a powerful tool for caregiver recruitment and retention but also an effective marketing tool to help your business grow and thrive in a highly competitive market.
How to invest in training: 7 essential steps to build an effective training program
Whether you are reviewing your current training strategy and looking for ways to expand on its strengths or beginning to build a training program from scratch, we hope these top tips will help ease the process.
1. Speak to your caregivers to find out what they want/need
In addition to training on the topics that are regulatory in your state, it is important to find out what your caregivers want and need from ongoing training in order to do their jobs well and advance in their craft. This should start right from the beginning with onboarding, which is one of the most crucial periods. Many agencies lose caregivers within the first 90 days of hire.
You can also gather information from care plans to train according to the needs of specific clients – and include any specialist areas your agency is looking to expand into, such as dementia or end-of-life care.
2. Include back-office staff in training opportunities
Included in the top 5 reasons why caregivers left an agency in 2021 was poor communication from office staff and scheduling issues. As part of your caregiver retention plan, it is vital to include back-office staff (that work directly with your caregivers) in any training programs.
For example, training office employees in people skills, organization skills, scheduling, time management, and communication skills will directly impact caregiver satisfaction and retention. Investing in training in these soft skills helps your team build solid relationships, built on mutual respect, and can significantly improve workflows, processes, and retention.
3. Offer incentives and rewards to motivate and engage your caregivers
Offering great learning opportunities is not always enough to get caregivers motivated and on board with a new training program. This is where you can get creative with incentives and rewards, including paid training time, flexible training dates, badges and certificates, and gamification.
- Increase engagement in learning and aid accessibility
- Provide a sense of autonomy to progress and master new skills
- Automatically track and measure each employee’s progress
- Provide instant, real-time performance feedback
- Focus on improving/developing specific skills in your team/upskilling
- Make learning more fun, engaging and interactive
- Offer personalized, professional development routes/training career ladders
- Save costs – more time and cost-efficient than other training methods
- Offer measurable results with rewards to reinforce desired outcomes
- Reinforce your agency’s culture.
Acquiring new skills is a key aspect of fulfillment in the workplace, so while gamification can enhance your training and development programs, it will also directly impact caregiver job satisfaction and retainment.
4. Offer flexibility and creativity
It can be beneficial to ask your caregivers and office staff how they prefer to learn and adapt your training approaches to meet their needs. While you need to aim for an overall foundation of consistent, repeatable processes, there are ways you can customize your training methods to meet a wide range of needs – for example, through a blended learning approach, combining online and in-person learning.
5. Utilize assets that you have already have
Enhanced training and development programs are shown to increase caregivers’ skill sets, competency, productivity, and job satisfaction. However, many agencies assume there’s a high cost involved in setting these up and can shy away from investing. Fortunately, there are many ways you can deliver high-quality training for your caregivers without breaking the bank if you look to utilize the assets you already have. For example:
- Caregiver mentoring programs provide new hires with personal guidance and knowledge from the more experienced, current caregivers on your team. The knowledge and experience of peer mentors are invaluable, motivating, and inspiring. Overseeing new caregivers, peer mentors can ensure they have all the necessary skills and expertise to do their job well, identify any gaps to establish a list of training needs, and supply many training requirements through direct, on-the-job training.
Additionally, a mentoring program provides a career ladder for your more experienced caregivers. By providing ongoing leadership training to groups of peer mentors – to help them effectively support less-experienced caregivers – you are offering valuable opportunities for them to advance and enhance their own skills and employability.
- Whether providing more experienced employees with the opportunity to specialize and achieve promotion or empowering new hires with limited experience to master the basics of caregiving, upskilling options are endless – and can be carried out on the job by your current staff.
Upskilling for a range of clinical and non-clinical skills is incredibly important for developing your caregivers personally and professionally and ensuring exceptional care for each client’s/patient’s unique needs.
- Managers can use caregiver coaching to help caregivers who are already effective contributors, to improve and become even more successful. Performed well, coaching can help caregivers continuously improve their skills, experience, and contribution. Managers should spend equal time coaching top performers and new recruits to enhance overall team performance and satisfaction. Regular in-house coaching can completely overhaul the way your caregivers view their job, your agency, and their connection with their clients.
6. Be sure your training reflects agency culture and builds unity for all employees
Building and sustaining a positive company culture and a strong, unified team is an ever-evolving process. However, the time and effort you invest will reap considerable rewards in the long run – and an effective training program can play a significant role in this.
If your employees believe you’re invested in them as people, they will automatically be more engaged, committed, and motivated to contribute to the shared vision. Caregivers and office staff will stay with your agency because they feel valued and appreciated. Talented employees want to work for a home care agency where they feel they have a future, with professional and personal advancement opportunities.
Providing training and development communicates to your staff that you are invested in them. It benefits your home care agency on many levels because they will be more effective in their work, feel more satisfied, be more likely to recommend your agency to family and friends, have increased professional value, and remain committed and loyal.
7. Ask for regular feedback from caregivers to adjust your program accordingly
If you are using gamification tools, like Smartcare’s Caregiver Rewards Toolset, you will already be automatically tracking and measuring how employees are progressing through their personal learning programs – and can use this information to revise and improve your training program over time.
Additionally, it is essential to ask for regular feedback from caregivers and back-office staff. Just because you think you are delivering excellent training and development opportunities doesn’t necessarily mean that you are! Remember, your staff loves to feel valued and respected, and asking for their opinions and feedback on training is a huge step in the right direction.
Overwhelmingly, training and development were found to be the top method for driving caregiver recruitment and retention throughout 2021 while also helping to boost agency operations overall.
As 2022 approaches, it is a perfect time to review your current training strategy and consider ways in which you can expand on its strengths – or to begin building a training program from scratch. Training and development programs come in all shapes and sizes, so think creatively about how you can develop a program that works best for your entire team – and, essentially, that builds on your agency culture.
Smartcare customers see some of the highest caregiver retention rates in-home care, leading to improved outcomes, strong connections to the agency, and improved bottom lines. Smartcare users have up to three times greater caregiver retention rates than the industry average. For more information on how Smartcare software can help your agency with caregiver recruitment and retention, please contact us today.