Caregiver retention is essential to home care agencies and clients. But the caregiver industry is volatile. Especially now.
Jobs everywhere are unfilled and in high demand. And year-end is a common time for dissatisfied workers to seek alternative employment.
Even the best caregivers—who are selfless and dedicated to their work—will quickly submit their resignations when they feel undervalued.
The good news? The holidays are an opportune time to express gratitude, give gifts, and dole out positive reassurance and respect.
When we show caregivers that we care, they’re more likely to stick around. And, when uplifted and appreciated, caregivers not only remain loyal—they spread more cheer.
Clients with routine and familiar caregivers feel better cared for. They value the same friendly faces at their doors. Subsequently, home care agencies that embrace retention challenges keep clients happy and business operations fluid.
So, ‘tis the season to pay it forward. (It will be well worth it!)
Here are ten incentives to show your caregivers, either as a client or an agency, how much you care…
1. Give the Gift of Meal Prep/Meal Kits
Caregivers are busy. They often work long, difficult shifts. And, when they get home, they still have themselves and their families to feed.
A month of meal prep, through a company like Hello Fresh or Sunbasket, saves your caregiver’s meal-planning time, grocery-shopping effort, and tons of money!
These meal services offer plenty of delicious and healthy meal options and recipes—both of which ordinarily take extra time and shopping to pull off.
With bellies both full and happy, caregivers will be well-fed, energized, and ever so grateful.
2. Buy Caregivers a Spa (Spaaaaaaah) Day
The work of a caregiver is not always easy. It’s a mentally, emotionally, and physically draining job—with the incredible reward of caring for those in need.
Even so, caregivers can also be cared for. Because, without a routine chance to relax and recharge, they may quickly burn out.
Spa Finder offers gift cards to many participating spas around the country. With this card, your caregivers can go online and schedule an appointment at a spa nearby. It’s quick and easy!
If you don’t invest in a day at the spa for them, it’s possible they never will (and they deserve to indulge!).
3. Gift an Extra Vacation Day…or Two
One way to show appreciation and understanding is to gift an extra day off. It allows your caregivers to feel seen for their incredibly hard work.
It may not seem like much, but a little in the way of vacation goes a long way for employee morale.
And it doesn’t have to be a vacation day specifically. It can be a mental health day or a Get Out Of Work Free card. Just ensure there are no holds barred for 24 hours.
4. Prioritize Employee Recognition
Many companies have an employee-of-the-month program or a wall of fame. It’s prolific because public acknowledgment really works. It promotes pride in employees’ work and encourages further effort.
Caregivers may not have a common office where they gather and view bulletin boards of caregiver superstars. But home care agencies can use email or social media to highlight those that take turns rising above the rest.
Alternatively, agencies can virtually introduce your employees to one another—regardless of work ethic or job performance. By showcasing their backgrounds, interests, and unique qualities, caregivers will feel like an integral part of the team.
5. Invest in a Holiday Party/Gift Exchange
Year-end parties are a great way for caregivers to get to know one another, and they’re something to look forward to.
When employees build connections and friendships, they gain a community of support. Here they can share concerns, frustrations, and even solutions. A fun, lighthearted holiday party is a great place to encourage this camaraderie.
If you’re worried about spreading COVID via a closed-in soireé—especially with the health of high-risk clients at stake—consider organizing a mail-in gift exchange. It’s a safe, yet enjoyable, alternative.
With participation optional, employees are assigned a random co-worker’s wish list and tasked to purchase a suitable gift.
You can facilitate the exchange by receiving and forwarding the gifts. This way, participant addresses remain private. Consider also expenditure limits and reimbursing gift costs.
After the exchange, let your caregivers choose whether they want their Santa identities revealed. If they choose to, they’ll have the chance to get better acquainted, and if not, the secrecy adds to the fun.
The beauty of a gift exchange is that thoughtful, personalized gifts can leave a more meaningful impression.
After a tough year, widespread holiday bonuses and pay raises may not be feasible for home care agencies; especially when managing many caregivers.
If so, consider reserving bonuses—or an increase in wages—for a few exceptional employees, or longevity bonuses for those who’ve been with the company a few years or more.
Bonuses are a great way to help caregivers feel extra valued during the holiday season. Start budgeting early to ensure you are prepared!
7. Gift an Oil Change or Car Wash
Caregivers spend a lot of time commuting, so it benefits them to have a reliable, functional car.
When coming from lower-income families, caregivers may not have the resources or time to maintain their vehicles regularly.
Offering to pay for an oil change or tire rotation is a great way to invest in that transportation—and ultimately, a caregiver’s dependability.
And if that’s too pricey, car washes are a more affordable option. A clean car not only keeps paint from corroding but makes a more professional statement when parked at a client’s home.
8. Give Away Useful Swag
Offering employees agency swag is another sign of appreciation. The trick is to seek input and make it especially useful.
Instead of guessing what your caregivers would like, survey what they would find most enjoyable or practical. If they spend a lot of time commuting, they might make use of travel mugs. Others, with lots of equipment to carry, could love a large tote bag. You can even ask what product colors they’d most enjoy.
If their favorites don’t make the cut, your employees will still love that you value their opinions.
Plus, the more a caregiver needs and likes swag, the more the investment won’t go to waste (and it doesn’t hurt to have your logo flashed around even more).
9. Gift Cards and Getaways
Giveaways are also a great way to incentivize caregivers over the holidays. Home care agencies can mail out gift cards, set up competitions for larger, exciting getaways, host virtual raffles, or include door prizes at holiday parties.
While gift cards are easy and include countless, well-loved options, friendly competitions for a bigger grand prize are also popular. These competitions can be based on high client ratings or other accomplishments that promote hard work and more dedicated client care.
For example, a weekend getaway—all expenses paid—would be a coveted win.
If you want to offer a wider selection of prizes, a virtual raffle works, too. It could be hosted live through Zoom or at any time through social media or email.
Caregivers would be assigned random raffle numbers and watch you pull them out of a shuffled pile. Numbers could also be randomly selected on the honor system and emailed to the winners.
10. Ask What They Would Like
Instead of randomly selecting incentives that may or not be favored (just like with the swag), you can base them on direct feedback from an employee survey (or, if you’re a client, by asking your caregiver directly).
This makes incentives more effective and caregivers feel heard.
You may not be able to promise anything as a result of a survey or direct inquiry, but hearing what your caregivers say proves beneficial.
Sample questions could include:
What is most valuable to you as an employee of this company?
What is one small thing that would make a big difference to you?
What do you feel this job lacks that others offer?
With the results, you can tailor an incentive that fits each caregiver specifically, or engineer one based on the common majority.
Sure, you may receive negative feedback, but constructive criticism has a rightful place. You’ll not only be in tune with suitable incentives—you’ll have a chance to improve everyone’s morale.
It pays to be generous. So this holiday season, don’t hold back. Incentivize your caregivers. Acknowledge, appreciate, and applaud their hard work.
It will be a gift that keeps on giving.