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Improve Caregiver Retention by Refocusing your Recruiting

By Stephen Tweed

In preparation for a recent Caregiver Quality Assurance Mastermind Group, (link to CQA) I was studying the 2021 Home Care Benchmarking Study from Home Care Pulse.  My attention was focused on the Recruiting and Retention Section, and some of the data that came from this most recent industry benchmarking study.

This year’s study showed us that turnover is higher for caregivers who were recruited from internet job boards and other online sources. and turnover is lower for caregivers who were recruited from employee referral programs and word-of-mouth.

The Perfect Storm in Recruiting

Beginning in early April 2021, we experienced “The Perfect Storm” of caregiver recruiting, with a combination of multiple government benefits causing unemployed workers to stay home.  The number of applicants for caregiver positions to slowed to a trickle, and nearly all of our Home Care CEO Mastermind members were having to turn away new clients because they could not staff the cases. 

The fall off in new applicants caused us to refocus on caregiver retention.  If you can’t hire new caregivers, you need to keep the ones you already have.  The 2021 Benchmarking Study showed that overall turnover in 2020 was 65.2%.  We learned from previous studies that 80% of turnover happens in the first 90 days. 

Improve Retention by Refocusing Recruiting

In exploring the Benchmarking Study, this graph caught my attention.  It shows clearly that turnover is over 60% higher for applicants recruiting from than caregivers recruited from local referral sources.  It shows that turnover is 19% higher for applicants from compared to Employee Referral Programs.  This data support other information we have accumulated over the years that show that your best source of high quality caregivers who will stay with you is your Employee Referral Program. 

If you really want to improve caregiver retention, review, refocus, and redesign your Employee Referral Program. 

Seven Steps to Overhauling your ERP

To improve the quality of caregivers you hire, and to improve retention of these caregivers, here are seven things you can do to overhaul your Employee Referral Program:

  1. Increase the amount of the employee incentive that you pay your current employees for referring a new applicant.
  2. Communicate open positions for caregivers to all employees at least once a week.
  3. Make your job ads very specific, describing specific hours or days, specific clients, or specific geography.
  4. Make it easy for your employees to refer their friends and relatives
  5. Make it easy for applicants to apply for the job
  6. Pay your incentives quickly. 
  7. Celebrate your employees who refer an applicant and make it a big deal. 

Given the significance of the caregiver shortage, I am amazed at how many home care agency owners are not focusing on a proven recruiting process, your Employee Referral Program.  The evidence is clear that this process will bring you higher quality applicants who stay longer, yet most home care companies are still putting their recruiting dollars and energy into online digital recruiting.

If you would like discuss employee referral programs, or you would like to have regular conversations with other home care agency owners who are focused on caregiver recruiting and retention, consider becoming a member of a Caregiver Quality Assurance Mastermind Group.

If you are an independent home care company in the Top 10% of the industry, perhaps you would like to become a member of a Home Care CEO Mastermind Group.  We have four CEO Mastermind groups, organized by company size. Our members range from $1.5 million to $38 million in annual revenue.  Visit us at