Motivating care workers

Motivated care workers are engaged in their work, handle uncertainty well, are good problem-solvers, increase customer satisfaction, and are more likely to remain at their job ( No one can deny the importance of motivation, yet keeping employees motivated is one of the struggles in home care today and increases staff turnover. Find ideas below on keeping them motivated!

Know your employees – Motivators and Hygiene Factors

Psychologist Fredrick Herzberg has found out that employee motivation is built with two things: understanding which factors increase job satisfaction (motivators) and which are the dissatisfaction avoidance factors (hygiene factors). Motivators stimulate us internally to do our job because it gives us satisfaction. Hygiene factors, on the other hand, are extrinsic to the job. They don’t increase motivation, but their absence increases dissatisfaction in work. The minimum you’ll need to do as an employer is to ensure that the hygiene factors are all right, but if you want your staff to be motivated, make sure you also know their motivators. (Source: Herzberg, F. Harvard Business Review. Jan 2003).

Motivation starts with the individuals and knowing what drives them. Listening to them in different face-to-face situations is the key. What are your employees’ values, goals, expectations and which motivators work for them? Motivators are often individual, but when asked from the carers, there seem to be also some general factors that motivate them: the work itself, recognition for achievements, and responsibility.

Interestingly home care companies should pay more attention to the hygiene factors. We asked carers how could employers enhance their work. Most answers referred to the hygiene factors such as company policy and administration, working conditions and security, interpersonal relationships, and face-to-face supervision.


The work itself and the favourite clients

One of the biggest motivators for carers is the work itself. Meaningful work creates job satisfaction. Get for example feedback from your care workers on their favourite clients. When possible, try to enable staff to meet regularly the clients they connect with, this helps to improve the standard and motivates care worker’s to keep their client happy.

It’s necessary to be fair and consistent in this policy (hygiene factor)! This opportunity can’t be given to some but not for others. There is no room for favouritism amongst staff or misuse of a leading position to pick up the cherries from the cake. Also, all the customers need to have a caretaker, so not only the favourite ones get picked.

Recognition for achievements 

It feels good when others value the work you are doing and recognises your achievements. As one carer said, “Ensure team members feel valued,” and another continued, “Treat your staff with the respect they deserve as we are the ones who give you a good name by how hard we work.”  Praise employees for their good work, give positive feedback and recognition in front of their peers.

Also, some care workers may be happy to continue their role in helping those in the community for the duration of their employment, but some do have aspirations to move up the ladder. When speaking with care workers in one to one sessions or even in interview settings, define their goals for their career path. Some may wish to become care coordinators or move into another senior role in the company. Help identify their goals and how this can work into your own vision for your care company.


Want to some ideas for thanking and rewarding your care workers? Click here to see our article!

Treat your staff with the respect they deserve as we are the ones who give you a good name by how hard we work. – A caretaker

Responsibility and empowerment

A feeling of responsibility is important in keeping motivation strong; if care workers are granted the autonomy to make decisions based on their experience and your company standards, they will feel motivated by striving to improve the service that they give. This additional bit of authority also builds trust with your carers; by letting them make their own decisions, you add extra drive and motivation to their daily routines. Empowering employees can improve customer satisfaction as the carers are able to react or even proact faster to different situations. Get acquainted with Buurtzorg’s case to learn more about the possibilities of empowering carers.


Fairness in company policy and administration

A clear message about what your company stands for and what your goals are will set a bar for what is expected from them. By having a concise set of standards as part of your company vision, you outline the motivation of your company which your care workers will strive towards fulfilling.

Company policy and administration are hygiene factors. In other words, when company policies and administration work well they help avoid dissatisfaction. What does this mean? For carers it’s about fairness; an equal amount of work for everyone, organising shifts and rotas fairly, paying good salaries and paying them on time and respecting time off.


Working conditions and safety

Carers expect employers to ensure there are enough staff, time and information, as well as a proper sick leave policy. These are hygiene factors. Problems or shortage cause dissatisfaction to increase.  There needs to be enough staff working, so that “[clients] get the care and time that they deserve” and the caretakers will have enough “time to complete all jobs properly without burning the workers out”. Reserve enough time to get from one call to another and follow-up calls. Also, ensure that your staff will have proper sick leave. After all, it is a safety matter both to staff and customers.

Fight to staff adequately so [clients] get the care and time that they deserve. – a caretaker


Interpersonal relationships and supervision

Respect, reciprocal feedback, confidentiality, and face-to-face supervision. Just to name a few things that carers have wished for.

Be aware of how you give feedback; it is better to focus on the positive than critiquing the negatives. This shows that you appreciate the hard work that is being done, while also leaving some room for constructive feedback. You catch more bees with honey than vinegar! Just remember confidentiality and the fact that also your employees have important information to give via feedback! You also can gather feedback and possible ideas for improvements to your processes from your care workers in these sessions, engaging them in the planning of the company and making them feel engaged. Favour face-to-face situations for both feedback and supervision.



There are a lot of interesting stats behind employee happiness; happy employees are 12% more productive and take ten times less sick days, so by focusing on improving happiness amongst your care team will make them more active and also more motivated within your team. By knowing your employees, their motivators (the work itself, recognition for achievements, and responsibility) and the hygiene factors of the job (fairness in company policy and administration, working conditions and security, interpersonal relationships and face-to-face supervision), you can help motivate your care workers to provide the best care possible, improving your business standings and helping to improve staff retention!




  • Employee motivation = Motivators (increase job satisfaction, intrinsic) + Hygiene Factors (dissatisfaction avoidance factors, extrinsic)
  • How to motivate employees:
    • Enable carers to meet regularly clients who they connect with.
    • Praise for good work, give positive feedback and recognition.
    • Empower employees and give them responsibility.
    • Ensure fairness in company policies and administration.
    • Ensure good working conditions and security.
    • Respect, reciprocal feedback, confidentiality, and face-to-face supervision.


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