Home Care Recruitment: How Much Does Caregiver Absenteeism Cost You?

Nov 6, 2017 6:45:00 AM

“I get calls at 5am from Caregivers with all kinds of reasons for why they can’t come to work. I also get the calls from clients and family members when a caregiver just decides to not show up at all.”

Donna is the Office Manager for a medium sized home care agency in rural Ohio. She’s the one who deals with all the unplanned caregiver absences.

“I get two to three call-outs a week—sometimes more, sometimes less,” reports Donna.  “Each time, it’s a mad scramble to figure out the replacement. Most of the time, it takes two to three hours to find a replacement and get them to the client’s location.  Sometimes, there is no replacement available at all.”

The Research

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that across all industries, the average absenteeism rate for all workers is just under 3%.  The absenteeism rate for Caregivers (CNA, PCA, HHA, Aides, etc.) in Long Term Care Facilities and Home Care is closer to 10%.

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For small and medium sized companies, like Donna’s, unplanned caregiver absences are not only disruptive and frustrating—they are costly.  One study found that losses linked to absences cost U.S. employers $1,685 per employee per year. Some studies suggest that unplanned absenteeism costs probably exceed 15% of all profits.  Can you afford to give away 15% of your profits?

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The impact is even greater for small businesses.  A smaller pool of Caregivers means less choice when it comes to replacing a Caregiver for the day.  It can also mean paying someone overtime to work above and beyond their regular schedule to cover the absent Caregiver.

The Costs Can Add Up in Many Ways:

  • You may still have to pay wages to absent employees in the form of PTO or sick pay.
  • Replacement workers may cost you more, especially if they go into overtime.
  • You pay the administrative costs of finding and arranging replacements and dealing with disciplinary actions.

Money is Not the Only Way You Pay for Absences:

  • You can (and maybe already have) lost clients because of unreliable Caregivers.
  • Your clients may receive poor quality of care from replacement Caregivers, especially if they are exhausted from working overtime or resentful because they were called in on their day off.
  • There may be safety issues if you have to send inadequately trained Caregivers or a Caregiver who is unfamiliar with the client’s special needs, personality, orders or appointments.
  • Poor morale among employees who have to “fill in” or do extra work to cover absent co workers

“We signed on with an agency to find us a Caregiver for Dad.  First, the agency sent Tara. Dad loved her. She was great. But, she was a single mom and the job was just too much for her.  She would call in sick twice a week.  So we had a string of different Caregivers every week. It was rare to have the same Caregiver for more than three days in a row. After a while, this began to take a toll on Dad. All of us, really. There were many days when the agency would call and say, ‘We don’t have a Caregiver to send out to you today.’ That meant I would have to miss work to stay home with Dad.”  ~ Maryanne Morris, Pittsburgh, PA

Why Do Caregivers Call Out?

  • Illness (physical and mental)
  • Child or Elder Care Issues
  • Transportation Problems
  • Pain (musculoskeletal, usually work related)
  • Lack of support or engagement
  • Low Workplace Morale
  • Stress / Burnout

What Can You Do About It?

It’s not enough just to know WHY.  You also have to know what to do about it!  Download our latest report: 44 Ways to Reduce Unplanned Caregiver Absences. What works in your workplace? Let us know in the comments!

You may also like:

Recruiting Caregivers: Top Factors Candidates Look for When Deciding to go to an Interview

The Most Expensive Part of Caregiver Recruiting Isn’t Advertisement - It’s Time

Linda Leekley

Written by Linda Leekley

CEO, In the Know Caregiver Training

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