Most home care agency owners are interested in hearing honest feedback from current and past clients. They realize such input aids in improving operations and growing the business. But are they also gaining insight from their eyes-and-ears in the field…their caregivers?
While companies usually rely on office staff to manage field-based aides, accountability really is a two-way street. Here are some great reasons why management should implement regular caregiver satisfaction surveys into company protocols.
The “Caregiver Shortage” Dilemma
Certain realities in life are almost universally accepted. One is that, “in business, the customer is always right.” Another similar understanding is that, “in employment, the boss is always right.” But what happens when math and market forces shift that balance of power?
Whether agencies want to admit it or not, caregivers wield tremendous power these days. And most of them know it. That’s not always a negative, however. Many great aides use this understanding to negotiate fair pay rates while returning the favor with excellent quality of care!
However, a caregiver’s leverage over her agency does mean that she has plenty of job opportunities. These folks aren’t “desperate” for work. And if they’re not satisfied with a certain home care agency, they’ll join another organization. It’s that simple.
In the days of caregiver shortages, increased client demand and broad competition, home care agencies can’t afford to lose good aides to competitors. It’s always best to have happy employees. But with the current market, employee satisfaction isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity!
Easy Come, Easy Go
In addition to the critical information obtained by caregiver satisfaction surveys, there’s a psychological component to the exercise. Studies show employees are more loyal to companies that make them feel valued. Home care agencies that are too “disconnected” from caregivers appear apathetic.
A worker who finds her company apathetic won’t hesitate to jump ship at the first opportunity. However, regular surveys that solicit sincere feedback send the exact opposite message. Management instead shows they care about caregivers’ well-being and job satisfaction.
With that said, it’s important that the feedback is actually digested and that reported problems are addressed. While the sentiment itself goes a long ways, employees are ultimately expecting action. Agencies should implement protocols that update caregivers on the status of their complaints and any resolution activities.
Office Staff vs. Caregivers
A fairly open secret among home care veterans is that there’s often a bit of disconnect between internal office staff and caregivers who work in the field. All are valued team members, but it’s only natural that those who work together in close proximity will develop the strongest bonds.
This “gap” is further compounded by the fact that many management and oversight functions come from the office side of the business. Most home care experts wouldn’t suggest that this structure should change. However, it does sometimes create friction that hinders caregiver job satisfaction.
The good news is regular caregiver surveys can help to address any related concerns. Agency management must remember that field workers don’t get the opportunity to provide daily feedback, so it’s incredibly important to solicit input in a formal and organized manner. Otherwise, caregiver frustration will build over time. And without resolution, valued workers will simply leave the company.
Work Comp Claims & Lawsuit Mitigation
Another benefit to obtaining regular caregiver feedback in the form of surveys is that they’re incredible sources of valuable intel. Beyond their own job satisfaction, workers are likely to share important information that can help mitigate the risk of costly and dangerous problems further down the road.
Does the dementia client reach for a firearm whenever he’s irate? This question may sound like an insensitive joke, but it’s a very real possibility in the chaotic world of home care. And while agencies would expect caregivers to report such scenarios ASAP, the lines of communication sometimes fail. Additional dialogue channels certainly don’t hurt!
Similarly, workers compensation claims are a major problem for all home agencies. Potential injury hazards also go unreported, like beds that require risky transfers and lack of proper medical equipment like gait belts, walkers and wheelchairs. Caregiver surveys can include questions about workers’ compensations risk, which may save an agency $100,000s or more in insurance claims!
Ultimately, treating caregivers the right way and asking for their feedback is the right thing to do on a human level. But the input is also critical to an agency’s long-term success. Agency owners should view caregiver surveys as valuable tools that help grow their businesses through reduced turnover, better quality of service and fewer costly incidents (client emergencies and workers’ compensation claims).
If you’re a home care agency owner seeking to fast-track business growth, be sure to consult with the industry’s leading marketing firm today!