Private Duty

Drive client satisfaction, caregiver retention with the right office staff

Don’t ignore the impact office employees have on client satisfaction and caregiver recruitment and retention. Doing so could cost your agency dearly.

High-caliber office staff helped one Colorado-based private duty agency grow to a mid-sized agency in a short period of time.

Touching Hearts At Home had just two people working in the office, but the dedication and quality of work demonstrated by that small staff made agency growth possible.

Do this when hiring key office staff

  • Train office staff to recognize caregivers. Frequent recognition for a job well-done impacts the tenure of caregivers. Enabling office staff to acknowledge when caregivers do a good job can go a long way toward job satisfaction.
  • Educate office staff on phone etiquette. Demonstrate proper phone techniques and wording in a group session. Ask employees to think of difficult situations they have encountered and create a scenario to role play the situation.

Together the group will come up with a good way to handle the call. Make sure everyone is trained and practices the skills. Do not accept excuses.

  • Don’t be afraid to replace an employee who isn’t a good fit. While it’s often not an easy decision to let a staff member go, it can be a turning point for your agency.

For example, many agencies struggle with caregiver recruitment because they do not have the right person leading the charge on recruitment.

For this position, track the number of applicants by recruitment source, such as online job posting, employee referral, school recruitment or community activities.

If the majority of the applicants come from online job postings and none from community activities or schools, this is probably a sign that the recruiter is not implementing the recruitment plan.

First coach the employee and identify whether the problem is lack of skills or lack of willingness — often it’s a combination of the two.

If coaching does not lead to improved results, it’s time to find someone else to fill the role.

If caregivers are the lifeblood of an agency, office staff serve as the backbone. They set the tone for an agency and play a major role in determining the business’ trajectory.

These employees don’t just keep office operations running smoothly, they also have some of the greatest impact on caregiver and client satisfaction.

Note the role in client satisfaction

While caregivers may have the closest contact with clients, they do not solely influence client satisfaction.

In fact, client satisfaction with office staff “was most closely correlated with a client’s likelihood to recommend a provider,” according to Rexburg, Idaho-based Home Care Pulse analysis of thousands of client satisfaction interviews.

This makes sense because office staff are often the client’s first impression of the agency. Both the initial inquiry and assessment are often handled or scheduled by the team in the office.

These staff members are responsible for projecting and maintaining the agency’s image through ongoing interactions with clients. These interactions include scheduling care or regular assessment visits, answering client questions and handling billing. If office staff are indifferent or unprofessional, that reflects poorly on the entire agency.

Professional and caring office staff also provide a more consistent point of contact for clients. That’s because office staff turnover is much lower than caregiver turnover in the home care industry.

In 2017, the median caregiver turnover rate was 66.7%, according to the 2018 Home Care Benchmarking Study by Home Care Pulse. But that same year, the overall median office staff turnover was 30%, the study shows.

Office staff influence caregivers, too

Caregiver recruitment and retention is another area in which office staff play a key role.

Office employees interact with caregivers on a daily basis, and based on the quality of these interactions caregivers feel either connected to the agency or alienated by their employer.

Professionalism and respect for caregivers demonstrated through those daily interactions can make caregivers want to stay with your agency. On the other hand, negative interactions with office staff can drive caregivers to quit.

Strong office staff also can help with recruitment efforts. By projecting a professional image through office staff, agencies are likelier to attract professional caregivers.

Your best caregivers are caring professionals and will gravitate towards like-minded people.

And there is a high correlation between office support staff and how likely a caregiver is to recommend employment at an agency, according to Home Care Pulse.

“For example, if you want your caregivers to be more likely to recommend employment at your company, the number one way you can help them is to hire good office support staff,” Home Care Pulse’s study states.

About the author: Anne-Lise Gere, SPHR, is an HR advisor and consultant at Gere Consulting Associates LLC. Home care providers consult with her on caregiver recruitment and retention to achieve sustained results. Anne-Lise also works with clients on a retainer basis to provide on-going HR support. For more information, visit www.gereconsulting.com or contact Anne-Lise at annelise@gereconsulting.com.