Let’s Talk About:LOOMING CRISIS: Advanced Retention Methods: Part 6 of 7

Care Aide Advanced Retention Strategies and Solutions


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Problem: A good employee is hard to keep

Solutions:  1) Change company culture to one of expected internal growth and human engagement.  2) Consciously develop a higher awareness of the importance and dignity of the company/agency/facility/organization as a whole and the individual personal and nursing care jobs and individuals that do that work.

Again, we find the thread running through this series is that secret to success is the ability to try new things and actually put new or untried ideas to work.

Much comes down to

attitudes and beliefs

as they are


what they could be.

Here’s the part where you say, “Well, that is certainly easier said than done”.  And, I would have to agree that you are right, it is.  But, it is not as difficult as it seems.  As with most things in life, it is all about knowing what to do and when to do it that can make a molehill out of a looming mountain.


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Retention in staff programs is built upon a series of 5 best practices:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Leadership
  3. Communication
  4. Shared Management
  5. Professional Development


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Hiring an employee is only a first step. Building awareness of the importance of employee retention is essential. Employee retention is defined as a systematic effort by employers to create and foster an environment that encourages current employees to remain with the organisation.

Make sure your caregiver is educated, tested, certified and registered by CertifiedCare prior to hire or as a condition of continued employment.

Retention strategies strengthen the ability of businesses to attract and retain their workforce. Once the right staff persons have been recruited, retention practices provide the structure necessary to support those staff members.

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A strategic approach to employee retention may include adopting effective methods of engagement, safe and healthy workplaces, and creating flexible work arrangements.

Retention practices help create an inclusive and diverse workforce where barriers are reduced and individuals believe they can participate fully in the workplace. Workplaces that genuinely demonstrate the value they place on their employees put into place policies and practices that reflect effective retention practices.  This practice will produce benefit by way of care staff commitment and productivity.

Creative strategies that go beyond pay and benefits can be employed to attract and retain employees.

  • Recognition
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Work-life balance permission
  • Employee engagement in decision making (if only on a small scale)
  • Health and safety responsiveness
  • Communication
  • Workplace diversity (when genuinely valued and respectfully developed)
  • Formal wellness programs
  • Inclusion
  • Employee professional development

are some examples of approaches that can become a part of the tasty and nutritious mix when developing retention strategies.


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Inspiring a new employee to want to remain at your home care / home health agency is an ongoing task. Retention is a process that must be actively nurtured and developed during the tenure of each employee. This includes giving your care aide the attention they require and deserve, offering encouragement and support, acknowledging a job well done and ensuring that he or she has a voice within your  organization and that his or her input — as well as the input of all staff members — is key to the success of your facility. In short — give your employees a reason to stay!


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 Keeping workers often depends on good communication. Give new hires 30- and 90-day reviews to gauge how they feel about working for you. These reviews do not need to include raises. Ask the new hire’s managers how he is performing. Get qualitative feedback from coworkers and quantitative data from his department on his performance if possible. Praise employees in writing if they are a doing a good job so they know their job is secure and they are part of a team.

Successful organizations communicate effectively.
The benefits are many and include:

  • Increased employee commitment
  • Improved morale
  • Reduced turnover
  • Better decision making
  • Improved workplace relations
  • Enhanced workplace learning


In Home Services  (IHS) managers should:

  1. Provide encouragement and praise for a job well done
  2. Recognize achievements
  3. Step in when assistance is needed
  4. Give and receive feedback
  5. Respond to ideas and concerns
  6. Be accessible

Instead of waiting for your staff to come to you with problems, be proactive:

  1. Deal with problems before they become larger
  2. Improve perceptions
  3. Build relationships
  4. Show your willingness to help employees


Everyone Has an Idea That Can Make a Difference

Did you know…

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Use your staff’s knowledge to inform your decision making.

Establish regular (does not mean frequent) staff meetings (once per month or quarter is plenty for care staff)

Meet with staff leadership routinely and more frequently to got on top of problems before they fester or spread

Keep Care Aides informed on any progress made on their behalf or on behalf of a client they serve

Share truths about how their ideas have actually helped resolve or avoid a problem (ie., give credit and public praise)

Recognize the “B” and “C” Team Players

Depending on how your staff arrangements are organized, there can be a unspoken resentment of team leaders who appear to receive all the praise for the hard wok of the other team members.   Often, positive feedback is given to “A” employees, but a pat on the back works for employees at every level. Thank the “B” and “C” players who helped the “A” employees achieve success. Recognize efforts on a personal and public level. Validate all employee achievements.

Good Timing Can Be Crucial – Nix Procrastination

How you communicate is often less important than when you communicate. Take care of situations immediately. Follow up on requests in a timely manner. Respond to email from staff. Remember, if you don’t pursue problems as they occur, you may be incubating a larger problem.


Get Feedback and Use It

Use customer feedback to improve customer satisfaction. Develop a follow-up survey that:

  1. Is easy to understand and complete.
  2. Offers ample space for comments.
  3. Respond personally to the survey, answering any complaints when necessary and post your responses in a location where your staff can see them.

Make sure you have provided feedback against goals and objectives so the person knows he is not meeting expectations.

At the same time, you need to take a look at under-performing staff. Ask and consider whether an individual is in the wrong job. Determine whether you have provided specific and clear requirements so the care aide knows what you expect from him or her.  Ask them why they believe they are not up to snuff and what, if anything, they are able to do about it. Then make them accountable to do what they said they could do.

Decide if a performance improvement plan will help the individual contribute within your organization.

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How to Improve the Quality of Your Workforce


Performance Management: Performance Improvement and Performance Development Plans

A performance development approach to providing job expectations and feedback will assist with this process of feedback used constructively. I am a firm believer in the power of a well-planned, measurable PIP that is reinforced by positive and expressed supervisory support and encouragement.

The Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is designed to facilitate constructive discussion between a staff member and his or her supervisor and to clarify the work performance to be improved.

It is implemented, at the discretion of the supervisor, when it becomes necessary to help a staff member improve his or her performance.

The supervisor, with input from the affected employee, develops an improvement plan; the purpose of the activities outlined is to help the employee to attain the desired level of performance.

Experienced caregivers make GREAT Senior Care Auditors. Get CSCA certified from CertifiedCare.org


The PIP is designed to facilitate constructive discussion between a staff member and his or her supervisor and to clarify the work performance to be improved.

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The PIP differs from the Performance Development Planning (PDP) process in the amount and quantity of the detail involved in the development of the plan and review process. The PDP process enables you and the people who report to you to identify their personal and business goals that are most significant to your organization’s success.


PDP meetings are held quarterly to review the staff person’s progress on their personal and professional goals and objectives whether short term or long term.  Review your staff person’s progress on the action plans that result from the PDP goals weekly one-on-one meeting.  For convenience these meetings can be held via Skype or a good old fashioned phone call. These meetings do not have to last more than a few minutes.  Without rushing, go through a check list type of agenda that touches on the goals and allow the Care Aide to communicate what / how they are working toward satisfying those goals. This weekly meeting allows you to offer assistance and praise.  It also serves to help strengthen your connection to one another as workmates, and to identify or offer help or tools the staff person needs to succeed.

Both of these approaches will enable each staff person to understand their true value-added to the organization. They do so when they understand how their job and the requested outcomes from their contribution “fit” inside your department or work unit’s overall goals.

The process helps ‘make it real’.


10 Thoughtful and Effective PDP Meeting Strategies

Even though these meetings are typically ‘one on one’ it is still important to conduct them as you would any other type of meeting.  Time is still valuable to everyone, even in small groups.

This image succinctly presents the best way to handle almost any type of business meeting…

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Now that you are ready to masterfully manage the meeting:

  1. Schedule the PDP meeting with the staff member (ie., negotiate a convenient time for both of you), and identify ahead of the meeting the paperwork that will be reviewed.
  2. Let the staff member have a reasonable amount of time to review their personal performance report for the quarter, list new and review old business and personal developmental goal ideas on the PDP form, and review documentation. Documentation is made up of government and legally mandated elements, documents required by company policy and practice, documents suggested by best Human Resources practices, and formal and informal record keeping about employment events. It is a written record of an employee’s actions, discussion, incidents of performance coaching, witnessed policy violations, disciplinary action, positive contributions, reward and recognition, investigations, failure to accomplish requirements and goals, performance evaluation, and more.
  3. Review the 360 degree feedback results, if this is available as part of your organizations standard review protocol.  Coworkers who participate in the 360 review usually include the boss, several peers, reporting staff, and functional managers with whom the employee works regularly, hence, the since the performance feedback is solicited from all directions in the organization. The 360 review differs from an employee appraisal which traditionally provides the employee with the opinion of his or her performance as viewed by the manager. These employee appraisals tend to focus on the progress the employee achieved on job goals.
  4. The supervisor prepares for the PDP meeting by clearly defining the most important outcomes needed from the staff person’s job within the framework of the organization’s strategic plan.
  5. The supervisor writes business and personal developmental goal ideas on the PDP form in preparation for the discussion.
  6. The supervisor gathers documentation and data including work records and reports and input from others familiar with the staff person’s work.
  7. Both the supervisor and the employee examine how the employee is performing against all criteria, think about and discuss areas for potential development or improvement.
  8. The supervisor develops a plan for the PDP meeting which includes answers to all questions about the performance development planning process with examples, documentation, and so on.
  9. Recognize that this process takes place quarterly and that the most time and work are invested in the first PDP meeting. The rest of the quarterly PDP meetings, maybe for years, are simply updates to and review of the initial goals.
  10. Since this is a quarterly event, remind your staff at least one week before contacting them to set up a PDP meeting that they need to start getting their documentation and thoughts together in anticipation of the PDP meeting.

So, while seemingly time consuming on the front end, the PDP process, with a formal, effective foundation of solid personal and business goals, is less time consuming as time goes on.  This is an important component of employee retention.  It avoids an endless number of first PDP meetings.

The PDP continues to create business and employee success and value during its lifetime. With quarterly updates, the PDP process contributes to employee growth, business strategic plan achievement, and avoids customer attrition on and on into the future.

If you have done your part to create an environment in which an individual can succeed – and the person is not succeeding – let the person go. Your organization will be better off for his absence and the individual will have the opportunity to locate a job in which he can perhaps perform at a higher level.

Your business’ most valuable assets are the talent, expertise and resources of your work force. Recruiting and retaining the best human assets can only improve the value of your entire businesses assets.

©Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved

Keep reading

To continue on to Part 7 and our conclusion of Lets Talk About the Looming Crisis: Recruitment Strategies and Solutions, and let’s talk about how to make these valuable people want to stay with you for the long haul, click here

Let’s Talk About  is a CertifiedCare.org sponsored series of full length articles about cutting edge topics and trends impacting the Long Term Care industry service providers and the people that industry is meant to serve.  The articles are authored by Rev. Dr. Cathleen V. Carr JD MA MscD,  a down to earth ordained minister, a dozen times over experienced caregiver, Executive Director of CertifiedCare.org, and cathleen_carr.png (180×180) author of the CertifiedCare multiple award winning Family Caregiver, Professional Personal Care Aide, Alzheimer’s-Dementia, Special Needs, and Senior Care Auditor education and certification programs, and “Grand Poobah” of the CertifiedCare Professional Care Aide Membership organization.


CertifiedCare.org …where all types of caregivers benefit from complete elder care education.




About Elder Care Advice blog

Get professional elder care giving advice, advocacy, education and tips for those who care for and about the frail elderly at the ElderCareAdvice blog. We are generously sponsored by CertifiedCare.org. Most posts are written by Cathleen V. Carr, unless attributed otherwise. We welcome relevant submissions. Submit your article and by-line for publishing consideration (no promises!) to Havi at zvardit@yahoo.com, our own editor who will ensure submissions are given the best possible treatment and polish before publication, ensuring a professional level of publication. There is a nominal service fee involved ($45). Allow up to 30 days for publishing.
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