Employee Retention for Your I/DD Agency

We already know it’s a challenge to find experienced and qualified caregivers.  What’s even more difficult is the race to retain them. Industry research established the 90-day mark as an indicator of long-term employee longevity. So, how do we bring workers from point A to point B?

It boils down to shifting the mindset to placing workers and care recipients on the same playing field. Your employees care for clients; your job is to care for your employees.

Place clients and workers on the same playing field.

One common insight we hear about is when an issue occurs between a client and a worker, agencies often default to removing the worker from a shift and reassigning them.

Even with good intentions, this can leave the worker feeling inadequate, unheard, and potentially without hours or with fewer hours than they planned. Schedule changes—regardless of the intention—can inadvertently trigger worker turnover.

We want to help you change the narrative of today’s direct care workforce.

In the race for top talent, we encourage I/DD agency owners to adopt a growth strategy with retention at the center. The care and quality of life organically falls into place.

When we have two competing forces, like the demand for care and shortage of care providers, we have to do more with less. This means leveraging technology in places where people can do more meaningful work outside of a system.

When you spend more time developing and managing relationships with your team members and referral partners, the results will reflect in your business growth. When you think of “growth,” you may think of more clients. As counterintuitive as it may sound, to grow, you need to invest in your direct support professionals first. You can accomplish that by:

  • Hearing your caregiver’s side of the story when a complaint comes through.
  • Leveraging your agency management system for instant messaging caregivers about shift availability, changes in client conditions, and more.
  • Incentivizing caregivers for showing up, for coming to the rescue in a bind, and for supporting their peers when it matters.

Establishing and level-setting these equal priorities will help to shape the decisions made around scheduling, training, and the employee experience as a whole.

Review employee metrics early and often.

Don’t delay when getting a new direct support professional on the schedule. As soon as they arrive for orientation, have a plan for them to get their schedule assembled (if it’s not done already).

When you have caregivers on the schedule, be sure to touch base with them on a regular (read: weekly) basis to get a temperature check on their satisfaction with their hours. This number can and will change often.

Being in the dark about what your employees want—and may need—can put them at high risk for turnover.

At Sandata, we LOVE data and being an I/DD business owner, you have likely come to love it too. Employee trends can be a huge value-add, or a value-detractor, depending on how you leverage them.

Reviewing these insights frequently with your team will always give you a clear picture on:

  • Hours worked versus hours scheduled
  • Workers arriving late or departing early
  • Clients who may need more care than scheduled

When you notice errors or anomalies like some tasks not marked as completed, rather than treating this as a chore or call for discipline, use it as a training opportunity. Without a clear understanding of the benefits of using electronic visit verification or EVV, caregivers must just see it as another thing to do.

Instead, you can help them understand that these tasks are an important component of how your business gets paid. And in time, paying them too.

Reach out to past caregivers.

Reach out to caregivers who had to stop working with you but are in good standing. Who knows?

They might be available and ready to work now. This mass communication strategy is known to get some direct support professionals back on the radar, especially those that you haven’t thought of in a while.

Put a note in your agency management system to reach out to past caregivers on a regular basis by phone and a consistent cadence of follow-up emails that might entice them to come back and work with you. If you have time, send personalized emails that pertain to their specific situation.

For example, if you had a caregiver that had to stop working with you because there weren’t enough client hours within their availability, reach out saying that you have new clients in their area. For others, you might share new benefits that you’re offering or a new client that better matches their skill set.

Invest in employee training and development.

Each employee on your team took a chance and bet on you and your company as the next step in their career. That means a lot, and—as an industry—we can’t afford to take that for granted.

During the interview process, take some time to ask candidates about their career goals. Where do they hope to see themselves in the near future and long term? Jot down their answers as well as some ways that you can support their goals.

When caregivers can immediately apply their learning with clients, you’ll feel the passion and understanding from them. Give them the opportunity to tell you what they want to learn, and assign them education in their preferred learning style:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic

After assigning training, though, be sure to upload their certificates into your agency management system and document the completion of their training.

Issues involving training are one of the top reasons that direct support professionals leave their jobs, and that doesn’t have to be the case for you. Benjamin Franklin reminds us, “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I learn.”

The more that you include employees when selecting training topics and share why some training courses are mandatory, the stronger your ability to assist your caregivers with developing into professionals. When they’ve reached this level of understanding and reached this level of trust, the retention piece will fall right into place.

Technology is your ally in the fight for employee retention.

In today’s hiring climate for direct support professionals, you can’t afford to let any serious candidates slip through the cracks. That’s where the power of technology comes in.

When you can automate processes that are bottlenecking your operations, you can step away from the computer to craft and shape meaningful relationships with your employees. When you open the door for feedback, they’ll share insights with you that they’ve learned in the field. Clients may feel more comfortable sharing information with their workers than your office staff.

On-the-ground insights are what make direct support professionals the eyes and ears of your business. By retaining every possible worker, you’ll also gain a complete picture of the health of your clients.

Find more advanced tips and best practices for employee retention in our newest ebook: Workforce Enablement When Caregiver Turnover Is High. Download your copy today.