2021 is almost in the rearview mirror. This is when agencies start wrapping up 2021 and look to what they want to accomplish in 2022. This year presented many more challenges than anyone would have guessed, from a continued pandemic to a worsened caregiver shortage to a significant rise in the cost of doing business. Unfortunately, none of those seem to have an end in sight. So, we start 2022, at least in the first quarter, with those same challenges.  

Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish philosopher, once said permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. The home care industry is definitely not for the weak. Success in this industry takes long hours, total dedication, and an open mind to opportunities.

Looking forward to 2022 isn’t doom and gloom but rather an exciting opportunity to shake things up, rediscover your “Why” and put it into action. It’s not too late to change course and start 2022 with a new perspective.

Making and achieving growth isn’t an individual endeavor but a team effort. So, create a team representing every agency aspect (don’t forget a caregiver or two). You may want to call this the “Dream Team.” Once you have formed your Dream Team, start with acknowledging the challenges of 2021 but move on to a more positive and motivating outlook for 2022. 

Work together to determine goals everyone can get behind. Here are five things to consider when establishing agency goals:

  1. Start with where you want the company to be at the end of 2022. Create 4 to 6 year-end goals. Next, break them down into quarterly activities to help accomplish the overall goals. For example, the agency has 50 active caregivers. To meet its growth goal, the agency will need 86 active caregivers. Therefore, the agency will need a net add of 36 new caregivers in 2022, which sounds like a significant goal in today’s environment. Breaking it down into smaller goals reduces stress and makes it more manageable. Thirty-six new caregivers divided by four quarters is nine caregivers per quarter or three new caregivers per month. To meet this goal, the agency will need to figure out how many applications they need to hire one caregiver. This can be done by looking at your historical data. How many applications has it taken your agency to hire one caregiver? As a team, brainstorm what activities could produce the number of applications needed. Next, build an activity checklist and assign a task to team members.
  2. Before you implement your goals, check your goals against the infamous S.M.A.R.T[i].acronym.  

Specific – don’t be general. Think of it as detailed goals. Using the example above, a general goal would be to increase our caregiver pool in 2022. This type of goal does not have any detail and could mean a different number for each person on your team.

Measurable – include something that can be measured. A goal should have a specific number or metric attached to it. Continuing with the example, everyone in the agency knows they need 36 new caregivers to meet their growth goal. If the agency has netted nine new caregivers each quarter, it’s on track. If the goal was missed, the deficit should be added to the next quarter with a new plan to get back on track. This keeps everyone on the same page.

Achievable -but a slight stretch. A goal should not be so big that it would be a miracle to reach. This will deflate the team, and most will not even try. On the other hand, a goal shouldn’t be too easy. For example, if your agency only needs six new caregivers, not 36, this would not be a stretch goal. 

Realistic – can this be achieved with the current resources and staff. Measure your goals against the team and resources you have available. If you need 36 new caregivers but don’t have anyone dedicated to the recruitment, this may be an unrealistic goal unless you add another team member to focus on recruiting. A role of the Dream Team would be to validate the goals are realistic.

Time – make goals with an end date. All goals should have a beginning and an end. Open-ended goals are usually forgotten and have little impact on the team. Creating an end date puts a sense of urgency and importance on the goal.

Set celebrations. Find out what motivates your team. It may be money, gift cards, time off, or a party. Whatever it is, set a celebration or reward to acknowledge your team’s achievements. Make the goals visible in the office or on regular emails. 

  1. Continually show the progression toward the goal.
  2. Add a meaningful goal. People want to know they make a difference, and it can actually help a person live longer. Scientists researched telomeres, the endcaps of a person’s genes, which show that long-term stress not only shortens these endcaps, but it can also lead to an earlier death. So, developing a positive emotional state, offering your time, a warm smile, and an empathic touch, may increase a person’s likelihood of sticking around a while longer[ii]. The home care industry provides a lot of opportunities to do those things. Serving those who have the means to pay for home care is an excellent service. In addition, make sure your team includes an opportunity to help those who otherwise would not have the privilege to age in place without support from Pension with Aid and Attendance and/or state funding. Adding this service to your agency can add another layer of meaningfulness. Look for opportunities to include Veterans, surviving spouses and/or low-income clients. Commit to a goal to add 12 new Veterans or surviving spouses in 2022; that’s just one per month. This will not only add meaningfulness and make a difference in your community but give a reputation of philanthropy.

Assign your Dream Team members a goal they own and manage. One person shouldn’t drive all the goals. Instead, assign each goal to one or two people on your Dream Team. They will be responsible for driving the goal and reporting progress. 

  1. Meet regularly to get a group update on how the goals are progressing toward the year-end goal.

To achieve a business goal that is motivating to your staff all year long is a challenge. Goals are only as good as they are promoted, and the team understands why the goal is important. If it’s a one-and-done goal setting, the odds are they won’t be achieved. 

Encourage and hold people accountable regularly. Make the goals part of staff communication reinforcing how the goals relate to the agency’s success and their own.

 [i] George T. Doran, There’s a S.MA.A.R.T. Way to Write Management Goals and Objectives, November 1981

[ii] Why Science Says Helping Others Makes Us Happier by Maria Baltazzi. Thriveglobal.com

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About Cheryl Hammons CFE, CSA

Cheryl Hammons is an experienced home care professional, published author, and frequent speaker. She has held several roles throughout her 12 years in the home care industry, including training, support, and operations. She currently serves as Strategic Partnership Director at Veterans Care Coordination where she focuses on building value-driven relationships, developing revenue-generating programs, and creating educational materials for home care partner companies. Cheryl is the author of "Embracing a New Normal: Dealing with Grief" and "Respecting Religious Differences in Home Care."