You’re likely familiar with the revolving door of caregivers at this point. You hire caregivers, they stay for three-ish months, and then you’re onto hiring the next replacement. Or, worse still, you like them, but they fail to submit background checks, complete training or even show up for a shift.

Imagine this: Your candidates move through the hiring process quickly, take their first shift, clock in/out all the time, and become reliable caregivers who consistently say yes to more work. And they do this because they are motivated to.

Caregiver turnover was 65% in 2021. I teamed up with Caribou Rewards to share some tips to help recruit better caregivers and keep them longer.

1. Incentivize good behavior.

Your caregivers want to be rewarded or at least recognized for doing good things. Do your caregivers hear from you when they do the right things?

A habit loop has two parts:

  1. Providing clarity on which behaviors matter.
  2. Rewarding those behaviors as close to the time that they occur as possible.

The longer you wait to offer them, the less effective the incentives are. Saying thank you a month after a staff member picks up a tough shift has a different impact than immediately after the shift.

Reward staff for both effort and results.

Consistency over time is key. Most reward programs fail because managers forget and don’t keep up with the program. We saw this in 2020 with the top reasons for caregiver turnover; promises are made but not kept. Integrity means everything to your caregivers.

Caribou VP of Sales Kevin Minstry says: “Not all caregivers are incented the same way. Some appreciate the rewards, others like the gamification and competition, but most of all staff really want to be recognized for their efforts. We make sure the behaviors exhibited by caregivers are fully aligned with the company’s values.”

2. Be a workplace worthy of referrals.

Caregivers want to pick up more shifts and want to show up for you — but that’s only if you provide a workplace that takes care of them and makes them feel appreciated. Show your caregivers what’s in it for them (WIIFM) when they work for you. This means incentivizing them to pick up shifts and be on time (but also disciplining those who are chronically late; it goes both ways).

Creating a culture of recognition starts at the top. Organizations with a culture of recognition are more likely to retain their staff, have more robust referral rates, and have a more consistent care experience for clients.

Rewarding managers and staff who go out of their way to recognize caregivers fosters a culture of caring and recognition. Recognition tools make it easy and meaningful for your staff to show and receive the appreciation that is deserved. These tools also make recognition a part of the day-to-day — for your office team and caregivers. Plus, it only takes seconds!

Organizations who invest heavily in their culture do these four things:

  • Create a culture that recognizes effort and results.
  • Prioritize referral candidates.
  • Have a strong pulse on employee satisfaction.
  • Have a place for employees to share feedback and for management to take action.

Caribou’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Christian Alaimo shares: “All care organizations want their staff to feel appreciated. The challenge is that management and office staff are also remarkably busy! Making time to recognize individuals in a remote/autonomous workforce can be a challenge. Using referrals as a recruitment source starts with being a great employer—and you have to have a culture of recognition.”

3. Prioritize employee referrals that come through.

Teach your caregivers who you’re looking for. Pay them to train and learn so that they may proactively help you find quality candidates. Great care workers know other great care workers! If you take care of your staff, they’ll be your top recruiters.

What if caregivers saw their rewards program as part of their overall compensation? This would help them understand that their total compensation is within their control, both through good behavior and by referring people they know.

Referrals are four times as likely to be hired and stay twice as long. Your recruiters should prioritize referrals and move them through the hiring process as quickly as possible. The speed that candidates go from application to their first shift is one of the most important metrics to maximize recruitment efforts and reduce the cost of hire.

Growing staff referrals is not just about rewarding the outcome of a successful referral but rewarding the behaviors that lead to a referral, like sharing the job with peers.

Why invest in a behavior rewards program anyway?

Let’s set the scene. Meet Kawartha Home Health Care (KHHC). They were founded in 2015. They had increased caregiver turnover and ran into issues recruiting staff.

A shortage of applicants made it challenging for KHHC to maintain its reputation as the community’s premier provider of personal care services.

KHHC was not satisfied. They launched Caribou Rewards to help meet the local demand for care. In 90 days, 76% of their staff participated in the program. They increased their overall staff count by 17%.

What’s more, 43% of referred candidates ended up getting hired!

Listen to Patti Clancy, the CEO of Kawartha Home Health Care: “The Caribou team opened up avenues for recruitment we didn’t even know was possible! Our staff is now the main source of recruitment, and the quality of applicants has vastly improved.”

Be an agency that stands out.

Alex Oosterveen, co-founder and chief executive officer of Caribou, shares: “Caregiving inherently provides a deep sense of meaning. But we can’t take that for granted. Caregivers must also feel appreciated and fairly compensated for the important work they do. Caregiving has the potential to become a highly sought-after career path.”

Combine the best of head and heart through technology and human touch. Your staff are counting on you to care for them, as they do for your clients.

These tips and more will put you on the fast track toward not having a waitlist. Start saying yes to new clients today!

Jennifer Lagemann is a former family caregiver, professional caregiver and administrator at home care agencies. She now works as a writer and researcher, helping care providers to create patient- and family-friendly websites, articles and marketing literature.