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Seven Strategies for Improving Employee Retention in Your Senior Living Community

Published on December 22, 2023 by Sharon Morrisette

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The release of the 2023 HCP Benchmarking Report earlier this year revealed that the median caregiver turnover rate jumped to 77% in 2022 (from 65% in 2021). 

This came as no surprise to most home care providers, who have been struggling with caregiver recruitment and retention for many years, often impacting their business’s stability and opportunities for growth. 

In the senior living sector, the situation is equally dire. In 2023, 78% of senior living leaders revealed that attracting community and caregiving staff is one of their top challenges, with 67% saying staff turnover remains the biggest challenge of all.

For senior living communities looking to expand into on-demand or à la carte home- and community-based services, including PACE or CCaH programs, caregiver retention looks to be the biggest stumbling block they must overcome.

In this article, we explore seven strategies that can help significantly improve caregiver retention in your senior living community, highlighting technology tools that will support your efforts, ensuring that you can beat the competition and effectively expand your business in 2024 and beyond.

1. Offer competitive wages and incentives

Most senior living communities (SLCs) know that offering caregivers a basic salary and a few additional benefits, like health insurance and paid vacation time, no longer cuts it in today’s competitive job market.

If you want to attract and retain top talent, you not only have to offer (and deliver!) an outstanding caregiver experience but also pay a market-driven salary alongside meaningful, innovative benefits. 

Before advertising new posts, thoroughly research competitive wages in your area to ensure you’re keeping up. Also, consider offering caregivers access to early paycheck access/on-demand pay through a home care platform that integrates with programs such as Tapcheck

Using your job descriptions to describe any extra incentives you’re offering (such as flexible scheduling, training opportunities, reward systems, etc.) will also help potential applicants clearly see the added value of working for your business. 

With salary, paycheck access, and meaningful incentives in place, your SLC will be in a stronger position than most to attract new caregivers and keep your current caregivers happy, motivated, and loyal.

2. Excel in your orientation and onboarding processes – make a great first impression

Meeting, whiteboard and business people in office brainstorming for project in collaboration

How you onboard new hires can significantly affect caregiver retention. 

By far, the most significant percentage of caregiver turnover (57%) is shown to occur within the first 30–90 days of employment. Therefore, it’s vital that your senior living community sets up onboarding and orientation processes that will effectively support new hires, help them build meaningful connections, familiarize them with your company culture, and lay solid foundations for their new role.

In a recent SHRM report, up to 69% of employees stated they’d be more likely to stay in a position for three years or more if they experienced great onboarding

During onboarding, be sure your new hires are given the opportunity to: 

Senior living communities with comprehensive orientation and onboarding processes are seen to reduce caregiver turnover rates by 50% within two years, so these early stages are well worth investing time and money in to get right.

3. Integrate caregiver training with job development

Access to training and development opportunities was a significant factor in driving caregiver recruitment and retention throughout 2023, and this trend is set to continue in 2024.

Training programs come in all shapes and sizes, so think creatively about how you can develop a high-quality program that will offer maximum impact for your caregivers. 

Remember to utilize many of the assets you already have, such as caregiver mentoring programsupskilling and reskilling, and coaching.

Also, look to technology solutions that can support your efforts, like Aaniie (formerly Smartcare Software), which provides integration with CareAcademy and Nevvon to make it easier than ever for your caregivers to access and engage in tailored skills-building and training modules to enhance professional growth and support their career goals.

Read our recent blog, exploring integrating caregiver training with job development, for further helpful suggestions on this topic and insights into training approaches that will deliver the best results in terms of boosting engagement and retention. 

4. Deliver effective, authentic caregiver recognition

scheduler given recognition_

Lack of recognition and appreciation is very demotivating and is cited as one of the key reasons employees choose to leave an organization. 

Recognition and reward are two of the most powerful tools your senior living community can utilize to enhance the caregiver experience, boost engagement, and increase retention rates. 

Investing in the right technology means this doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or costly retention strategy.

Gamification tools, like Aaniie’s embedded Caregiver Rewards System, are the perfect solution to ensuring your caregivers’ achievements and progress are recognized daily, rewarding excellent performance and boosting retention. 

Tech tools like this, that enable you to customize and automate your recognition and reward approaches to best meet the unique needs of your caregivers, will help guarantee optimal retention results.

Read our recent blog on the link between caregiver recognition and retention for more top tips on recognizing excellent performance and building loyalty across your caregiver team.

5. Improve communications

Communicating clearly and effectively with remote teams, whether your caregivers are out and about in your community or further afield delivering a CCaH program, can be an enormous challenge for senior living communities.

Unclear, rushed, and inconsistent communication can leave your caregivers feeling frustrated, disconnected, and lacking support, leading to a negative caregiver experience and a high probability of them looking elsewhere for employment.

Tech solutions that can fix this problem overnight are available, like Aaniie’s mobile app. This can be used and accessed by role, including all office staff, caregivers, residents, and families – anywhere and anytime – ensuring your team is always securely connected and communicating effectively.

For example, with Aaniie’s mobile app, you can:

  • Streamline and organize all communication
  • Communicate clearly with secure messaging and chat
  • Virtually check in, in real time, with remote caregiver teams
  • Securely add, share, and update documents and information
  • Automate the caregiver notification process for daily scheduling and open shifts
  • Support effective collaboration.

The right software, like Aaniie, ensures that two-way, real-time communication with your caregivers is always fast and fluid. It boosts engagement, helping them feel fully supported, and positively impacts that all-important caregiver retention rate.

6. Develop and promote a positive company culture

Improve your staff’s skills in promoting caregiver wellbeing

Many factors, including values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, habits, and office systems, define your senior living community’s company culture. Together, these create the ‘personality’ of your SLC business and directly influence the caregiver experience – and, ultimately, how well you hold on to your top talent.

Investing the necessary time and resources into creating and promoting a positive company culture will result in improvements across various areas of your business – including caregiver retention. 

If you want to grow your existing home care services and expand your caregiver team without the headache of high turnover, you must pay attention to your company culture. While it can take time to perfect, getting it right is vital to optimizing the caregiver experience and increasing employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. 

7. Track, measure, and analyze data for caregiver satisfaction and retention 

As we know, what gets measured well gets managed well.

Tracking, measuring, and analyzing caregiver satisfaction and retention data and regularly listening to your caregivers’ feedback will provide all the information your SLC business needs to make effective strategic adjustments and guarantee long-term caregiver retention success.

As you implement any new retention strategies – or refine existing efforts – it’s crucial to measure and monitor caregivers’ engagement and satisfaction to ensure your plans are working and guarantee your continued success.

Technology tools, like Aaniie’s integrated business intelligence tools, can help in this process by providing real-time insights from actionable and unified data to drive better business decisions to improve caregiver satisfaction and retention.

For example, suppose the data reveals that a large percentage of your caregivers are leaving within the first 30 days. In that case, you will know that you need to have a laser focus on hiring, orientation, and onboarding to address this issue effectively.

Senior living communities already using Aaniie’s home care platform are leveraging data insights to drive improvements across the board, including caregiver retention. 

Technology like this makes it easy to capture and utilize data insights, measure key performance indicators (KPIs), drive best practices, and make better business decisions – leading to better experiences and outcomes for your care team and your residents/clients.

Making Aaniie technology part of the solution

Happy woman, nurse and phone in elderly care for support, consultation or healthcare diagnosis

Some trends in the senior home care industry come and go, but caregiver turnover is undoubtedly not one of them! This area shows stubborn persistence and requires constant vigilance and innovative solutions if senior living communities are to master retention and successfully expand.

While retention strategy efforts can be expensive, not taking action on caregiver retention will prove far more costly in the long run!

Forward-thinking SLCs looking to deliver exceptional home- and community-based services in 2024 are matching powerful marketing campaigns with equally robust caregiver retention programs – and making technology part of the solution.

Modernizing your operations with mobile technology and software tools like Aaniee’s all-in-one platform, with integrations with senior living software like PointClickCare, can make work more rewarding for your caregivers, optimize their workflow efficiencies, keep them highly engaged and connected, and improve the quality of care they deliver to your residents/clients.

It delivers time-efficient and cost-effective results every day of the year.

To learn more about Aaniie’s home care software tools that will help improve the caregiver experience at your senior living community and substantially reduce caregiver turnover, don’t hesitate to contact us for more details or request a demo

We’re here to support you every step of the way.