creating a team
Help your employees start on the right foot
by Brian Evans

Homecare operators are all too aware that attracting and retaining employees can be difficult. And as the population continues to age, the demand for caregivers will only increase. These challenges become even more problematic in a world with COVID-19, where families may be less likely to entrust their loved ones to facility-based care.

While owners and operators are familiar with the hiring and retention challenges that the industry presents, keeping good staff doesn’t have to be difficult. The first opportunity for improving retention is the employee onboarding process. In fact, one study found that effective onboarding increases employee engagement by more than 20% and an engaged employee is 87% less likely to leave the company within the first 12 months. The onboarding process isn’t just another item to check off your to-do list. With the right process, proper onboarding is your first opportunity to develop good employees, improve retention and ultimately improve patient care.

Homecare operators should consider these four key factors when developing a meaningful onboarding process.

1. Cultural Buy-In

Many homecare employees rarely visit your office. Their work is mainly done in patients’ homes, and, in most cases, they are working alone. This can make it difficult for employees to feel like they are truly immersed in the company culture. That’s why it’s important to get cultural buy-in right from the start.

“Employees must understand and buy into the culture and vision of their company in order to act in a way that’s promoting such a vision,” said Brandon Roland, director of human resources at Adams Keegan, a provider of HR services. “Onboarding is the best opportunity to show what your organization is about, what you value,
and why.”

Getting new employees comfortable, connected and productive should be operators’ top priority. When managers communicate the “big picture,” new employees can understand how their roles support the organization’s goals. And when you take the time to build a relationship with an employee, they are more likely to feel they are a valued member of the team.

2. Loyalty & Pride

Employees are more likely to perform well and stay at a job longer when they have a sense of purpose. In an industry like homecare, in which the well-being of a vulnerable segment of the population is at stake, employees have an enormous opportunity to positively impact the lives of both the individuals under their care and their families.

Consider bringing in family members of loved ones you’ve helped to describe how you’ve improved their lives. Reinforcing why you got into this business and how you and your team help people can help employees better understand their role and get them started off on the right foot.

3. Networking

While most homecare employees spend their days working independently with patients, they should know that they’re not alone. At times, caregivers will be collaborating with others in your organization to deliver the best care. When this happens, your employees must know how to function as a team. Some of the best onboarding programs make sure that new employees are acquainted with and get along with others who they will be working with, which promotes communication, collaboration and camaraderie.

Operators might consider assigning a mentor for each new employee so they have a go-to resource in the early stages of employment. This person can help with the main responsibilities of the job while also providing basic guidance on how to navigate your organization.

4. Proper Training & Compliance

A proper onboarding program will introduce employees to the policies and procedures that govern both your company and the homecare industry in general; HIPAA is an obvious example. Employees will also need to understand your requirements clearly so they can perform at a high level early in their tenure. Explaining the process for reporting employee concerns, including things they observe from others, will help identify issues that need to be investigated and resolved before they become major problems, limiting liability for the organization.

The cost of employee turnover is high and dealing with turnover requires a great deal of time and effort that operators could otherwise be spending on other important activities. Managing your people right from the beginning is the first step in employee retention.

Focusing on these four areas should make sense for any homecare operator, but don’t hesitate to reach out to a human resources expert for guidance on processes that make the most sense for your organization.

Brian Evans is senior care practice leader at Adams Keegan. He has served clients in senior care and home health for more than 20 years. Visit