Home Health and Hospice Employee Retention

Tom Maxwell

The most common aspirations for the coming year in the US are to get healthier, exercise and to save money, according to a YouGov poll. Most home health agencies have the same goals. They want to get healthier, increase activity and improve margins.

One area I urge home health agency operators to focus on this year is retaining top talent. When you recruit and keep the best team members, all three primary goals listed above will be more easily fulfilled.

Sounds easy enough. Well, no so fast.

The U.S. Labor Department announced this summer that, for the first time on record, jobs outnumbered job seekers.

Not only that, roughly 42 million U.S. employees, or more than one in four workers, will leave their jobs this year to go work for another company, according to the recently released 2018 Retention Report.

That number is sadly, much higher in our industry. The median caregiver turnover rate across home care was 66.7% in 2017, the highest rate since 2013, according to the 9th Annual Edition of the Home Care Benchmarking Study.

We need to do better.

Retention Starts Early

The home health and hospice agencies we work with that maintain a high retention rate, have one major thing in common. They start retention efforts on day one with onboarding. (Only 12 percent of U.S. employees strongly agree that their company does a good job of onboarding new employees, according to a Gallup poll released last year.)

Successful onboarding programs ensure employees learn what makes the company unique and how their jobs help fulfill the company's mission. Additionally, employees need to experience the mission and values of the company consistently.

Which brings me to my next point.

The 3 ‘Cs’ of retention: Connection, Culture and Contribution

Connection, the first C, is supported in a few ways. It refers to positive and productive relationships with coworkers as well as maintained connection with life outside of work. Finding ways to ensure your staff gets a chance to recharge and disconnect from their work responsibilities will ensure they feel connected at home, which will enable them to be connected at work.

Culture is the next area of focus. Workers from different generations sometimes have different needs, Gen X is often driven by company stability and financial security and Gen Y tends to be more interested in company qualities like its approach to company social responsibility and growing the employee career path. We are still learning the younger generations but are beginning to discover they are leaning more toward purpose, communication and overall experience in their company cultures. Identifying what motivates each employee is our corporate obligation to retention. Compensation and benefits, although an important part, is a fractional portion of good company retention.

Culture is often best created by experiences. Many companies accomplish positive culture through volunteer opportunities, team building exercises and community focused events.

Additionally, positive reinforcement goes a long way. Make sure leadership f recognizes staff for the simple things. It’s amazing what a “Thank you for your hard work,” “Good Job!” or ‘Your patient says they love you” will do for culture and morale. A culture of appreciation is contagious.

Contribution can be supported by ensuring each employee’s abilities are being used to the best of his or her abilities. To retain the best talent, we need to ensure that we allow each team member opportunities to capitalize on or grow his or her talents. To the latter point--growing talents--opportunities for continued learning and training are invaluable when it comes the ensuring your team members can contribute at the level they want to. Many leaders fail to provide additional time to educate and instead fixate on mitigating what they consider to be the weaknesses of the employee. The answer is investing more time in learning opportunities. Education leads to more efficiencies, better care for the patients, increased retention and the list could go on. Why would we not dedicate time to our most valuable resources, our staff?

Thanks for taking the time to ready this article. The Maxwell Healthcare team is here to assist in all your employee retention efforts from additional training, change management, process improvement and overall culture creation. Please feel free to reach out to any one of us if we can be of assistance. You can reach me directly at tom@maxwellhca.com. Please look out for each other out there.

All the Best,


Home Health Retention Tips

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