An improving economy is creating staffing challenging for agencies in hiring and retention, with many routinely seeing high turnover rates. As of 2015, the median caregiver turnover rate was upward of 60%, according to survey data from Home Care Pulse.
There’s no silver bullet for bringing turnover down and bettering recruitment, but agencies can achieve notable improvements by following best practices throughout the hiring, on boarding, and retention process.
Check out these tips for managing and measuring the hiring and retention process.
One or two interviews?
Hiring is a speed game. Qualified candidates are in extremely high demand—caregiver shortages ranked as the top threat facing the industry in Home Care Pulse’s 2016 Benchmarking study.
Therefore, agencies need to streamline their hiring process as much as possible to prevent losing prospective workers to competitors. If an agency intends to offer an applicant a second interview, don’t let that person walk out the door. Instead, ask the person to stay and conduct the second interview immediately.
Checking references, doing background checks, and other due diligence is necessary, but if possible a job offer can be made on the spot. Job offers can be contingent and withdrawn if necessary.
Are you measuring your applicant and hiring and retention rates?
Measuring the Hiring and Retention Process requires having a maximally efficient recruitment process, it’s crucial to be measuring how many applicants make it through various stages of the hiring journey, such as a first interview, second interview, and job offer. If too few applicants are viable, that means an agency needs to reevaluate its practices. If your percentage of candidates who are viable is not at least 15% or 20%, you may want to look at where your applicants are coming from. If you get a hundred applicants from Craigslist, but only one is a viable candidate, what does that tell you?
HR can help with hiring and retention
Some agencies are hiring dedicated recruitment/retention coordinators to be responsible for maintaining an active, high-quality pipeline of candidates and spearheading retention efforts. The savings achieved through lower turnover and the value-add of a more experienced workforce could well make the salary paid to this person well worth it.
If it’s taking applicants longer than 20-30 minutes to fill out an application, that is a barrier that needs to be addressed. It should not only be easy for caregivers to apply for a position, but they should have various options for doing so, including online and in person. It’s always a good idea for agencies to have an attorney review the application if any changes are being made, to ensure it’s still compliant.
Initial new hire training – make a difference!
The onboarding process for new caregivers is a crucial part of setting them up for success. This time should be spent in a variety of ways to keep the new hires engaged. Having different people speak, mixing in a PowerPoint, and showing video are some options for different ways to convey information. More outside-the-box approaches also can be effective. One agency, for instance, brings in a recipe for cookies and has the group prepare them.
Other suggestions for orientation include having the new workers affirm verbally that they are committed to being a part of the team and meeting the quality expectations that have been conveyed. Emphasizing client service and the client’s experience can be powerful. For example, ask the new hires to imagine what a first-time client feels like half-an-hour before the first scheduled visit—the nerves and uncertainty—and then the positive feelings the client experiences when the caregiver arrives on time.
Coming out of orientation, agency managers should have a sense of the new caregivers’ strengths and some “stretches,” or areas for them to work on improving.
Are you using yesterday’s systems to retain today’s employees?
Today’s employees do not except to fill in paper timesheets, get paper schedules and have to verbally request PTO. Ensure your employee self-service systems meet today’s expectations. Download “Why Employees Love Self Service” for more information on how effective employee self-service helps with retention.
First 90 Days
The first 90 days are crucial from a retention standpoint. Agencies should devote extra time and attention to new staff in this period. That means having robust communication, accompanying them on visits, and providing a steady stream of feedback.
At the end of the first 90 days, or after a certain number of hours worked, do a performance review. What is said should come as no surprise and should be related to the “stretches” identified at orientation and the feedback that has been given. The review is a chance to reinforce a plan to keep the caregiver engaged and improving.
Have you considered a mentoring program?
Mentoring programs are catching on. They can provide a big retention boost. Identify the top 5% to 10% of your caregivers, provide them with some mentorship training and extra pay, and pair them with new hires. The mentor might accompany the new caregiver, and then provide ongoing guidance and support.
On the other hand, it’s also important for agencies to be tracking the lowest-performing 5% to 10% of caregivers. At weekly meetings, the management team can evaluate these workers and discuss strategies for improvement.
Not all clients are equal. Turnover can be reduced by focusing be on the most troublesome 5% to 10% of clients to work with. Don’t assign new hires to the jobs no one else wants! Maintaining a positive working environment is crucial for high retention, and clients that are extremely difficult to work with can compromise this.