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Creating a Culture of Retention - Step 1

Posted Oct 28 2008 9:40pm
Employee turnover and retention-related issues is one of the biggest challenges for providers of in-home and community based care today.

Turnover is costly in terms of dollars, reputation, quality of care and just about every other measure of success. Employers are reluctant to invest in new employees ("They'll just leave, anyway") and so the cycle continues.

PHI, an organization dedicated to "Quality Care through Quality Jobs" has just released a new resource for providers titled "12 Steps for Creating a Culture of Retention: a Workbook for Home and Community-Based Long-Term Care Providers." (Find the workbook on our Resources page)

Step 1: Recruitment and Selection. It's pretty hard to focus on retention if you don't have a good system to help you get good people in the first place. In fact, retaining poor workers is one of the top complaints of good workers - they end up carrying more than their fair share of the workload when companies keep poor workers on board just to fill slots or retain FTEs.

Here are some of the recommended actions to help you improve this first step in building a culture of retention:

Know what you want. Boil down the qualifications of new employees to a short list. We use the rule of thumb we call "clone your best and brightest." What are the qualities of the employees you'd like to clone? Be specific, and think of questions to help you evaluate these areas. In the case study report in the PHI workbook, the recruiters look for"people with some formal or informal caregiving experience who express compassion for other human beings and demonstrate an ability to set priorities and resolve problems."

Know how to recruit. Once you know the qualities you're seeking you need to develop a solid recruitment strategy. In today's electronic age, recruitment strategies need to be re-examined. The way it's always been done is not necessarily the best way to advertise and recruit today. Are you using web-based job boards (craig's list,, etc.)? Do you have the ability to accept applications online? (Not just resume's - lots of caregiving candidates may not be resume' savvy, but can complete and submit an application on line.) If you need help with this aspect, ask us about Apply2Care - online applications right to your in-box.

Write your ad. You've got a plan for creative recruitment and selection. Is your ad reflecting your values? Does it somehow set you apart from others looking to hire the exact same people? One of the best ads we ever used focused on our love of humor. We specifically advertised for someone experienced in caregiving with a good sense of humor. We got great applicants, a few new hires, and one caregiver who stayed with us for over 10 years (until we sold the business). Print ads are expensive so we tend to cut them short; internet ads can carry a lot more content. Wherever you advertise, make your ad stand out and reflect you. The PHI workbook uses the term "compelling" to describe the perfect ad.

Involve your team. Those best and brightest people you'd like to clone? Involve them in the selection process. Let them give the quick tour through the building, or just meet and describe a typical day to a candidate. It will give those special individuals a bit of a job perk (they'll look and feel more important), and it will help you set the stage for new employees wondering just what it's like to work for you. Listen, too, to those employees' comments about applicants.

Make sure you're competitive. Are your wages competitve to other options the applicant has in the field? How about your benefits? One area where you can excell is training. That's an area consistently listed on surveys as making a company a preferred employer. Offer extensive training opportunities, and let applicants know what you offer. It'll help you recruit, before you even begin to train. ( aQuire Training Solutions can help).

Step 2 - next week. CEUs for senior care professionals · Staff training for caregivers · Caregiver job applications right to your inbox
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