One of the biggest problems in the caregiving industry is the massive turnover rates for workers. In Washington State, there is a significant shortage of caregivers already, which is only worsened by the turnover rates, so much so that it is now considered a workforce crisis.
According to a 2018 report by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), it was projected that 77,000 home care aides will be needed by 2030 for the needs of clients on Medicaid alone. When adjusted to reflect the turnover rate, that number rises to a whopping 125,000.
With this crisis looming over the industry, home care agencies and adult family homes are having trouble finding and keeping employees. This rapid turnover can be quite costly, especially if it involves training new caregivers.
The reasons for the high turnover rates can vary depending on the situation, but here are some things that can definitely help you keep your caregivers.
1. Be Flexible with Scheduling
When it comes to scheduling, of course, the client’s needs come first, but try being flexible where possible. Sometimes caregivers might have particular requests regarding scheduling.
Maybe a certain shift suits them more because they have to pick up their kid from school every day, or maybe they have their training at the same time every week. If their requests are reasonable and there is a way to make it work, consider letting them have a say in scheduling.
They are more likely to leave if they have to completely rearrange their life because of their job. If their work schedule makes it more difficult to meet their personal needs, it will lead to stress and a lower quality of care for their clients, too.
2. Provide Reliable and Consistent Work
Like everyone else, caregivers work so that they can earn a living. If you are not giving your caregivers enough work to make ends meet, they are going to look somewhere else. During the hiring process, talk to them about how much work per week they feel comfortable taking on.
It’s important that both of your needs are aligned when it comes to this, because most people don’t usually stay if they feel either overworked or underworked. This means it’s also very important to check in and ask your caregivers about their workload.
Sometimes they can be stressed and overwhelmed by too much work in the beginning, but once they get the hang of it, they might not have enough work to do, for example. The only way to know is by asking them about their needs and capacity.
3. Give Your Caregivers a Chance at Continued Education
Most employees, caregivers included, don’t want to feel stuck at their jobs. If they do the same exact tasks every day with no chance to advance their career, they are going to lose their enthusiasm.
For a caregiver, getting their Home Care Aide certification is just the first step. There are many options for further continued education and training. At a training center like Cornerstone, caregivers can do all classes online, which makes this easier than planning for in-person training.
Encouraging your caregivers to develop new skills is a sure way to show them you support them and their career advancement.
4. Offer Caregivers Competitive Pay
Money is by no means a solution to every problem, but competitive pay will absolutely help you keep your employees satisfied. Paying more than the average caregiver salary will set you apart from other potential employers and make your adult family home or assisted living facility an attractive place to work. If they are able to make enough money to make ends meet, they are less likely to seek employment elsewhere.
5. Reassess and Adjust Pay Regularly
A competitive starting salary is a great first step, but if your caregivers stay stuck with the same pay rate for too long, they are going to start looking for better opportunities elsewhere. Apart from merit-based raises, you should make sure that you adjust pay for inflation at least every year.
6. Offer Attractive Perks
An attractive employment offer is not just about monetary compensation. Think of other perks that you could offer to your caregivers to help them feel appreciated. Since caregiving can leave a person feeling physically and mentally drained, consider including a meditation app subscription, a gym membership, or special health insurance benefits.
Make sure you give them adequate mileage reimbursement if they drive to the clients’ homes to work. Think about your employees’ needs and what you can do to make their lives a little easier.
7. Nurture a Healthy Workplace Culture
Money and perks are helpful, but if you really want to keep your caregivers, you need to back them up with a healthy workplace culture. No amount of money can make up for having to work at a place with poor communication, a toxic atmosphere, or values that don’t align with a person’s own.
Caregiving is a noble profession, based on empathy and respect. Make sure you treat your clients and your caregivers with both, especially since you expect them to treat their clients this way. Emphasizing these values will give your caregivers a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Self care for caregivers is essential. Provide the work environment in which it is encouraged.
8. Make Sure the Operation Runs Smoothly
Your caregivers are there to do their job, and the job itself can be extremely mentally and emotionally taxing. Last-minute schedule changes, unreasonable shifts, inconsistent pay and other organizational blunders can be enough to send any employee out the door. Stay organized with your business and workflow so they can have the energy and patience to do their work well.
9. Give and Be Open to Feedback
Consistent feedback makes employees feel appreciated. If they are doing a good job, let them know. If they are struggling, make sure they have support – not just moral but also practical. They should always have someone to explain, demonstrate or help them when they hit a roadblock.
If possible, give your caregivers regular evaluations. It’s a good idea to have evaluations that are tied in with raise negotiations once or twice a year. This will give your caregivers an incentive to stick around.
10. Provide Your Employees with Equipment and Supplies
Every client has their own specific set of needs, and their caregiver needs to be armed with the skills as well as the supplies and tools to take care of those needs. Cutting corners here and there might sound like an acceptable way to save money, but it may prevent your caregiver from doing their job properly. This can lead to dissatisfaction in both caregivers and clients.
Caregivers often see this as employers valuing money over their staff and the quality of work they provide. Equipping your caregivers with all of the tools and supplies they need will allow them to do everything that they can for the client. Your caregivers should not have to pay for supplies out of their own pocket to help their clients.
11. Arm Your Caregivers with Information
When you have a new client or a new caregiver, make sure that the caregiver is well-informed about all of the details they need to be able to perform their job. Caregiving can already be a very stressful job, and having to go in unprepared only makes it more challenging.
Not briefing your caregivers properly can result not only in unnecessary stress for them, but also in mistakes or conflict with the client.
The statistics for caregiver turnover may be bleak right now, but people and businesses are more than just numbers. If you can make a conscious effort to be aware of and provide for employee needs, goals, and desires, they will have many reasons to stay with your company. Together, we can help reduce the turnover rates so that our growing elder population will continue to be able to age with dignity and the best possible care.