The turnover rate among health care workers is reaching a level of concern for many agencies. The median turnover rate among caregivers in the home care industry reached 66.7% last year, according to a study by Home Care Pulse. Among direct support professionals, turnover averaged 45.5% in 2016 according to a National Core Indicators report. In addition, the entire human services industry is facing a labor shortage, so providers cannot always fill vacancies as quickly as they would like.
The economy, stagnant wages, and workforce demographics all contribute to high turnover rates. But providers can increase retention in several ways even if these outside forces do not change.
Make It Easy
The key to attracting and retaining staff is to make things easier for them. You might never call the job of a caregiver “easy,” but you can certainly make processes like on-boarding, scheduling, and documentation easy. That will let employees focus on their clients, which is why they chose the profession in the first place.
Reduce the administrative burden on your staff by providing as much as you can online. Don’t make them come into the office to sign on-boarding papers if they can do so electronically. And provide a digital platform for them to complete client documentation before they clock out. Small moves like these can make routine paperwork a lot less stressful.
Focus on Culture
Many agencies cannot afford to increase pay and benefits. Fortunately, those aren’t always the most important factors in employee retention – workplace culture is an even bigger factor to some employees than pay. So even if you can’t give the whole staff the raises they deserve, you can still help retain them by nurturing a healthy culture.
Culture is formed by the values, attitudes, and behaviors of your organization as a whole. A healthy agency is focused on quality care more than anything, so ideally the desire to serve vulnerable individuals will motivate staff to show up on time. But when an agency stresses timeliness for its own sake without showing support for the valuable work its employees do, the staff may feel policed. That feeling quickly leads to burnout.
To promote a healthy culture, work together to create a list of values the entire organization can stand behind. Then, use those values to inspire compliance. Reinforce your appreciation for staff by always paying them on time, responding quickly to their requests, and giving them the tools they need to serve their clients well.
When your applicant pool is rather small, it can be tempting to hire “poor fit” employees. These employees usually quit within the first year, simply because they cannot handle the job.
The first way to fix this problem is to expand your applicant pool by using an advanced applicant tracking system. This can push your applications to dozens of job boards, with no effort on your end. Make sure your applications include detailed questions about any required licenses/certifications, experience, and what type of work they enjoy. You don’t want to be surprised by their lack of qualifications, and you don’t want them to be surprised by the type of work they are signing up for!
When you have a solid candidate, set your organization apart by emphasizing your culture/values. You may not be able to attract them with amazing pay and benefits, but you can appeal to them with your mission. Those who fit your culture are the most likely to stay with the agency long-term.