Demand for home health aides is higher than ever. The job outlook for home health and personal care aides is projected to be 25% between 2021 and 2031 — meaning that, as a workforce, home health and personal care is expected to grow an incredible 20 percentage points more versus other industries.
This poses a significant challenge for home health care providers, not just in recruiting enough carers to answer to demand but in retaining these staff members as well.
The Great Resignation, high employee turnover, and decreasing job satisfaction are all impacting home health organizations in line with the wider healthcare industry. Tackling these issues starts with addressing the factors that cause them in the first place.
In this guide, we'll walk you through the numerous different factors that can influence employee retention, before diving into exactly how to increase employee retention in home health care.
If you're an HR or Operations leader in a home health care organization, keep reading to learn how you can successfully retain your valuable employees — and improve patient care and business outcomes in the process.
What causes attrition in healthcare?
Staff turnover is a natural and necessary process in all healthcare organizations. However, when turnover reaches high levels it can have a detrimental effect on the quality of care as well as being costly. And it's high levels that we're seeing.
The turnover rate for US-based home care aides sits at 35.42%, and a report from Skills for Care in the UK found a turnover rate of 29% for directly employed staff (almost double the cross-industry average).
Further problems arise when employees leave not only the organization but the health workforce itself.
By understanding and addressing employee retention and the factors that drive it, home health and personal care leaders can minimize staff attrition and the associated impact on cost of, and quality of, patient care.
While there are a number of factors at play here, Health Professional Mobility in a Changing Europe divides the organizational factors affecting retention into three main categories:
- Employment quality
- Work quality
- Organizational quality
Below, we’ll take a closer look at each of these three dimensions and how they affect retention, before diving into actionable initiatives leading to improving employee retention throughout your home health organization.
What's important to remember is that each of these factors overlaps to create engaging, positive employee experiences and ensure retention. It's not a case of nailing just one of these categories but creating meaningful change in all three.
1. Employment quality
Employment quality is a key factor in retention and includes aspects like pay and benefits, job security, and working conditions. Other elements of employment quality relate to home health workers having direct lines of communication with their employer and being able to swap and fill shifts easily in order to support the work-life balance they seek.
Getting employment quality right is a particular challenge for home health and personal care organizations. For one, home health co-workers are typically more distributed than other healthcare teams. These are employees who leave their homes in the morning to visit patients at their homes and may rarely, or never, even step foot in a shared office or HQ.
And yet, home health organizations cannot deprioritize employee quality conditions — they can't settle for simply paying staff more in order to boost retention, as many have tried to do. As Gartner states:
"Monetary compensation is important for surviving, but deeper relationships, a strong sense of community, and purpose-driven work are essential to thriving."
That leads us to the concepts of work and organizational quality...
2. Work quality
Work quality includes the levels of responsibility, autonomy, and stress experienced in the workplace.
Without going into any more detail than that, it quickly becomes clear how essential work quality is for healthcare workers. Few roles carry such a degree of responsibility and demand as much from employees. The scope for stressful situations is limitless — and to make matters worse, home health aides often feel isolated from the rest of their co-workers and the organization at large, meaning that when they start to feel stressed they have no one to turn to for support.
Work quality also relates to the technology provided to health professionals to help them succeed in their roles. With 52% of frontline workers claiming they'd leave their job over tech tools, it’s clear to see the impact that the right workplace technology has on work quality and employee retention.
3. Organizational quality
Organizational quality also impacts employee retention: the culture of the organization and the way that employees are managed and rewarded (or not) all play a key role here. Organizational quality can also refer to levels of organizational innovation, such as improvement programs or digitization initiatives.
Blink research shows that health and care workers overwhelmingly feel unheard and undervalued in their organizations. Unsurprisingly, the same research showed 50% are considering leaving, or have recently left, their jobs.
Simply put, organizations with a positive culture, good management practices, and fair reward systems are more likely to retain their employees. On the other hand, companies with poor organizational quality are far more likely to experience high levels of turnover.
7 ways to increase employee retention in home health care
Turning attrition trends around is a big task. Businesses need to think bigger than compensation and make bigger commitments to the overall employee experience.
All roles in health and personal care must get the status and respect they deserve. But how can you, as business and HR leaders, provide that?
1. Collect and analyze data
Up-to-date workforce data should be at the center of an effective retention strategy, helping you better target your employment, work, and organizational quality improvements. By collecting and analyzing data and identifying trends in your home health workforce, you can identify the starting point for your activities.
Understanding the profile of your workforce will help you to assess the risk points and ensure that retention issues affecting particular groups are addressed. For example, are retention issues organization-wide or specific to certain staff groups, demographics, departments, or teams?
For a home health provider, this will likely include looking at retention rates between carers employed directly by your organization vs agency staff vs workers brought in through other schemes like CDPAP. Carers indirectly employed by your organization might feel less connected to the company mission and vision — failing to meet their organizational quality needs as a result.
Getting to know the drivers of employee turnover, and who they impact in your specific organization, can help you create targeted initiatives to improve retention. If the data shows heavy attrition after 30 or 60 days, you might focus on creating an effective, engaging onboarding program to help new hires hit the ground running.
Making it happen
One way to improve employee retention is through the use of regular Employee Pulse Surveys. By conducting regular pulse surveys, you can ensure that you have a constant understanding of how your employees feel about their work.
This will help you address any potential retention issues before they become a major problem or spiral into quiet quitting. Additionally, pulse surveys can help to improve employee engagement and job satisfaction, which can lead to improved retention rates.
You can also use tools like Blink’s Frontline Intelligence feature to collect and analyze critical employee engagement data and metrics, helping you to understand exactly where your healthcare workforce is feeling unengaged and unsatisfied.
2. Offer relevant training and development opportunities
Healthcare organizations that offer relevant training and professional development are more likely to retain their most valuable employees. It cannot be underestimated how valued and invested in healthcare workers will feel when their skills are being developed and their careers are progressing.
This answers to all of the three factors explored:
- Employment quality (as it opens the doors to higher pay)
- Work quality (through professional development)
- and organizational quality (as it creates a culture of progress and support)
Making it happen
Training and development programs for home health and personal care workers might include formal training programs, such as classroom-based learning or online courses. It might also include more customized opportunities, such as one-on-one mentoring or job shadowing.
What's essential to identify, however, is how these programs will be delivered. Technology will be crucial to bridge the gap between HQ and home health aides.
3. Lighten the load
An increasing number of health and care workers are struggling to balance the demands of their job with other aspects of their life, such as parenting or caring responsibilities. This often leads to stress and burnout; an early indicator of disengagement, and ultimately attrition. In some instances, burnout in healthcare staff has also been linked to medical errors and patient safety incidents.
To improve retention in healthcare, organizations must commit to creating a working environment where employees feel supported by their home health co-workers and managers — even if they rarely see them face-to-face — and are not overburdened with inflexible workloads.
Making it happen
Organizations can take a number of steps to lighten a home health worker's cognitive load:
- Providing more resources to team members and managers in a mobile and easy-to-access Hub for on-the-go support
- Implementing intuitive scheduling solutions and shift-swapping tools that can be used for real-time coordination and employee flexibility
- Encouraging work-life balance through a culture of peer support, so that co-workers can easily tap into the knowledge and experience of their peers
4. Consistent communication
Another factor that often impacts your employment quality is the consistency of your communication. Consistent two-way communication is essential for lasting relationships — and it can be one of your most powerful tools for encouraging employee retention.
Blink's research found that close to one-fifth of frontline workers don’t receive relevant communications from their organization. Organizations can create a sense of community and trust among their staff to minimize attrition by ensuring that all employees:
- Receive updates relevant to them
- Are part of the right team chats
- Can easily share their ideas and concerns
You can also use regular communication to obtain direct insight into how specific healthcare workers or teams are feeling about their work. This can help you to identify retention issues and create targeted interventions as needed.
Making it happen
Effective communication needs to be tailored to the specific needs of different staff groups. For home health and personal care aides, it will undoubtedly be about regular mobile updates and using Feed and Chat features to create energy and enthusiasm among your distributed workforce.
Read how Blink helped solve a million-dollar communication challenge for the home health organization, Elara Caring. Through deploying a number of transformative digital initiatives through Blink, 95% of Elara Caring's personal care, home health, and hospice care workers now feel more connected to the organization.
5. Focus on employee engagement
Employee engagement can be a powerful tool for improving retention, as it has been linked to higher levels of satisfaction and commitment among workers.
Healthcare organizations can create a work quality that is more attractive to top performers by getting to know the latest employee engagement trends, providing the right digital tools for key workers to engage intuitively, and regularly assessing the effectiveness of their efforts.
Engaging employees ultimately retains them.
Additionally, research by HBR shows that higher employee engagement levels can lead to a number of improved outcomes, not just retention. These include care costs (including legal action taken by a patient against a provider for negligent complications) and treatment effectiveness and patient outcomes (measured by the rate patients are readmitted).
Making it happen
To increase employee engagement, healthcare organizations should focus on creating a culture that values the opinions and input of employees. This might include activities like surveys or direct feedback, regular communications from leadership, and targeted recognition programs.
One transformative way to improve employee engagement in your healthcare organization is to pave the way with Blink, the powerful mobile employee engagement app that frontline workers love. With a suite of features perfect for healthcare, Blink will help you create a culture of engagement and retention in your organization.
6. Real recognition
Recognition is fundamental to improving employee retention. The employers' organization for the UK's National Health System states:
"Meaningful recognition can help to motivate and retain our NHS people. Setting in place a holistic reward package, which is relevant to staff needs, can be key to ensuring your organization, and the wider NHS, retains its staff."
But recognition is more than a pat on the back. Driving real recognition for employees needs to be an ongoing, holistic process that inspires your healthcare workforce to feel valued, motivated, and connected to the company.
Making it happen
While some companies may view the idea of regular rewards or incentives as impractical, Blink is a mobile employee recognition solution that makes it easy to provide targeted and consistent recognition to specific individuals or teams.
With features like real-time feedback, team and group chatting, and, of course, Employee Recognition, your healthcare organization can unlock the power of recognition as a retention tool. And with its wider suite of handy features, Blink is the perfect way to engage employees in your healthcare organization and help you retain talent.
7. Listen and action feedback
Over a third (35%) of frontline healthcare workers feel that their feedback will not be acted on by their organization. Unsurprisingly, half of frontline healthcare staff have changed or considered changing their job.
"By taking the time to listen and communicate, we can create a better and more supportive environment within healthcare," says Sean Nolan, CEO at Blink.
Through more effective communication, leaders feel more connected to their frontline, and frontline employees feel valued and listened to. This results in higher retention, increased productivity, and better two-way conversations.
Making healthcare workers feel heard needs to be a priority for any healthcare organization. By listening to their feedback and acting on it, you will be able to create a more supportive workplace culture that retains top talent — leading to reduced costs associated with employee turnover.
Making it happen
To effectively ensure your team is heard and their feedback is acted on, you need the right tech to manage it all smoothly. With the Blink employee app, you can listen to your employees and act on their feedback in real time, meaning they won't feel ignored or undervalued.
By using the powerful features of Blink, you can help create a culture where frontline workers feel heard and respected while focusing on:
- Encouraging two-way feedback through regular surveys and communications from leadership
- Ensuring feedback is acted on and implemented into business processes, updating employees on the progress of their feedback so they know they’re being heard
- Integrating your mobile app with workplace technologies like HR systems, payroll platforms, and more, to streamline the employee experience and implement feedback effectively across your organization
Your home health employee retention checklist
- Collect and analyze data - Gathered by regular Employee Pulse Surveys and Frontline Intelligence data
- Offer relevant training and development opportunities - Formal training programs, customized development pathways
- Lighten the load - Easy-to-access Hub for on-the-go support, intuitive scheduling and shift-swapping solutions
- Consistent communication - Team and 1:1 Secure Chats, regular and relevant mobile updates
- Focus on employee engagement - A powerful Employee Engagement App
- Real recognition - Rewards programs, Employee Recognition, Feed shoutouts
- Listen and action feedback - Regularly collect and act on feedback, update employees on actions taken
Retention next steps
Blink is the industry-leading frontline engagement app that connects management and frontline teams to build stronger organizations. With a proven adoption rate of 92% in care sectors, it’s never been this easy to unify the frontline. At Blink, we believe in empowering frontline organizations by helping you enable, engage and understand your workforce.
Our app provides a host of features that support employee retention in home health, such as employee surveys, polls, secure team and group chats and channels, employee recognition, and healthcare-friendly HR tools.
By using the app effectively, you will be able to create a culture where employees are engaged and respected – ultimately reducing employee turnover costs and driving employee retention up. We are experts in frontline engagement and retention and would love to help you achieve your goals.