Building a caregiver referral program around rewards can be your most cost-effective recruiting strategy. ~ Insights and ideas from the Honor Care Network.
When you’re in the business of caring for people, finding the very best caregivers to meet your clients’ needs is the number one priority and the number one challenge. Most home care agency owners say sourcing qualified candidates is what keeps them up at night. Sound familiar? If so, you may not be tapping into the amazing recruiting team you already have—your own caregivers.
With some planning and good incentives, you can inspire your current caregivers to help you recruit qualified, reliable caregivers. By building a company referral program, you’ll be able to tap into their unmatched know-how, community connections, and circle of caregiver friends.
“Our Care Pros know better than anyone what types of skills, temperaments, and personalities are successful in our business,” says Olivia Cheng, who oversees growth for Care Pro supply and recruiting at Honor. “We find that the people they refer are usually outstanding. They recommend people they trust, people they know can do the job—and we reward them for it. One of our Care Pros earned over $1000 in one month through our referral program.”
Honor’s secret to generating referrals is simple—create a great place to work, a culture of respect and support, and reward caregivers for referring qualified people. Here’s how you do it:
1. Start with a Positive Work Environment
• Treat caregivers with respect. They’re professionals and the backbone of your business. Make sure you treat them that way—every day.
• Listen to their concerns. Caregiving is hard. Problems inevitably arise. Always foster two-way communication and work together as partners to solve any problems.
• Set your caregivers up for success. Give them consistent schedules and client information so they’re prepared the moment they arrive. When they develop a real bond with families, the care experience is better for everyone.
• Build a community. Caregivers know other caregivers. Their care visits often overlap with others when working for clients. Your agency’s reputation travels fast among those in the field, so make sure you’ve got happy caregivers spreading the word.
“When you respect your caregivers, they’re very likely to share their positive experience with others in their community,” says Cheng. “The same is true when they’re dissatisfied. That’s why we focus so much on supporting our Care Pros to help them be successful.”
2. Build a Caregiver Referral Program
Create a bonus program that rewards employees throughout the referral’s employment cycle.
• Ask for referrals. Encourage your caregivers to refer only the most qualified people.
• Pay an initial bonus. Give a cash reward at a set milestone. For example, when a referred caregiver works more than 25 hours a week (an indicator that your agency is their primary employer).
• Give a second bonus for longevity. Follow up with another bonus when the new hire stays with your agency a certain length of time—say, longer than 2 months.
• Reward multiple referrals. Give an additional reward or thank-you gift for referring more than 3 high-quality caregivers. It doesn’t need to be monetary. You can give a gift card or a company T-shirt, pens, or reusable water bottle with a sincere note of thanks.
• Pay promptly. Ensure that referral bonuses are paid on time to instill trust in your caregiver workforce.
“Paying caregivers cash bonuses has been more cost effective than going through a recruiting agency or setting up tables at multiple job fairs,” notes Cheng. “Our Care Pros know the nuances of the job better than anyone. When they talk to friends and family, they’re honest about what their workday looks like—so referrals are usually a good fit.” Honor also tracks which caregivers bring in the best referrals and works to keeps them motivated with recognition and rewards.
3. Reinforce the Program
Use your existing communication tools to get the word out about your referral program and continue with frequent reminders.
• Explain how the program works.
• Clearly spell out who is eligible to participate.
• Be specific about how you measure candidate success.
• Map out the rewards time frame and when they’ll be delivered.
We’ve found that these communication methods deliver the best results:
• Texts and emails – Send caregivers information about job openings that can be easily forwarded to their friends and colleagues.
• Face-to-face – Talk about the referral program in interviews and orientation and offer friendly reminders or new incentives in ongoing conversations.
Once your referral program is set up, remind employees about it often. And be sure to share referral success stories and recognize employees for bringing in great caregivers via company-wide emails and other communication forums. The home care business is all about building genuine relationships. If you build real relationships with your caregivers, you’ll see real results.
Tired of the never-ending search for quality caregivers? Are you turning away clients because you can’t fill shifts? Your agency might be a perfect strategic partner for the Honor Care Network, our growing national alliance of home care agencies.