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 Catch A Rising Star

Clint Maun, CSP

The health care business is a people business. That’s why recruitment, retention and selection of high quality people is so critical. To be successful in all three, work on retention first. Fix the revolving door before you bring more people through it.
Why should retention be first? It costs your company a minimum of $2,200 to replace a minimum-wage health care employee. Turnover affects the morale of workers and customer service. You cannot take care of the basic needs of humans if you don’t know day-to-day who is going to be there to care for them.

Conduct a Turnover Analysis

Unit managers should know their turnover figures daily. Do not wait for a report from the Human Resource Department or corporate office at the end of the month. Analyze the reasons you lost people that day. Were they fired? Didn’t show up for work? Did you do a horrible orientation? Or were they thrown into the work area without supervision? Not clearly describing to applicants in the interview what the job entails is a major cause of turnover. If new employees are surprised by a task they don’t expect to do, you may lose them quickly. Click here for Workforce21 tool kit.

Do a Series of Surveys

  1. A wage, salary and benefits survey every six months. Statistically, it is not necessarily an advantage to be the highest payer in the market. You should, however, rank above mid-point. To get accurate information on the market’s wages and benefits, send one of your employees to apply at a competitor’s facility. Of course, they should be qualified for the job they apply for. Be aware, if an employee says, "I heard" that a competitor pays higher wages, don’t rush to increase salaries without proof.
  2. An employee survey every 18 months. Let managers know their personal evaluation and salary increases will be predicated on improvements that are made based on the survey. Many managers avoid conducting surveys because they want to avoid bad news. But workers today expect to have input in some way. Share the survey with your coworkers. Click here for Employee Survey Information.
  3. A customer survey once a year. Survey questions should be about the food, billing, socialization, environment, and/or price. Would you use us again or refer anyone to us? Feed good comments back to the employees. Let them know the customers think they’re doing a good job. Click here for Customer Service Survey Information.

Conduct Exit Interviews

Every person who leaves the organization must complete some form of exit interview, even if it is conducted later. In fact, a later interview might provide a more honest evaluation from the ex-employee. If ten people leaving say the same thing, you probably have an important issue to address. Click here for Exit Interviews Information.

Before You Interview

Before you interview anyone, change your job description to include these phrases on the first page, prominently displayed: "team first" and "attitude is everything".

"Team first" means you expect the employee to work willingly. It goes along with the most important line on a job description, "other duties as assigned". There is no room for people who view their job description narrowly. They’re the ones who won’t pitch in to help when people are needed to help feed customers.

"Attitude is everything," means you will not tolerate cynical, caustic problem-causing attitudes, even if the person is technically proficient. Placing this on the job application will weed out prima donnas and donalds who believe that if they have education and accreditation they can have any attitude they want.

Prepare for the Interview

In your help wanted ads, do not encourage applicants to drop in, although you can welcome them if they do. Instead, ask them to call for a professional appointment. Be ready to make a good first impression. Let the receptionist know the applicant is coming. She or he can offer coffee and a smile. You might even post a welcome sign in the lobby. Find a quiet place to interview the applicant and do not allow coworkers to interrupt. Have someone take your phone calls. An interview should take at least 30 minutes.

Most importantly, care that she or he is coming in. It is not an interruption of your day, but instead a time to impress an applicant with how important they are and would be to your facility.

Behavioral Interviews

The theme of a behavioral interview is what people have done in the past predicts what they will do in the future. Phrasing questions to probe for answers you want is a science. "Do you have trouble showing up for work?" is a poor question and you will not get a honest answer. Instead ask, "Describe a situation in your past position when you weren’t able to make it to work. How did you handle the situation?" Then be silent and let the applicant respond. Click here for Behavioral Interview Questions.

"Do you have problems getting along with people?" Of course not, the applicant replies. Instead, ask, "Could you describe for me a time when you had a problem with a co-worker?"

To subtly check honesty ask, "Can you give me an example when you were asked to do something that wasn’t ethical or legal, and how did you handle the situation?"

A survey of 2,500 people showed that 28% of references called would not recommend the applicant who supplied their name. It’s well worth your time to perform reference checks.

Then make your decision and notify all applicants. Don’t leave people on the string wondering if they would be selected.

Talent-Based Advertising

One of the best helps in your recruitment of talented people is the group of talented people already in the building. Form them into a "talent team" whose purpose is to help you prepare advertising and marketing of the facility to all candidates.

Take them to a nice restaurant. Tell them how much you appreciate their good work. Inform them you want to hire more people just like them and that you need their help to develop a more effective orientation program. Ask them to describe why they work at your facility. Write down what they tell you and ask for permission to use what they say in your advertising.

Replace your usual help wanted print ads with new ads that feature your employees. For example, "Laurel works at our company because.... If you meet Laurel’s qualifications and like what she likes, call for a professional appointment." The more specific you make it, the better.

If you use radio advertising to recruit employees, ask Laurel to repeat her testimonial on radio spots. Schedule your spots when your competitors’ employees are getting off duty or driving to work. Consider putting Laurel in charge of talking to those people who call responding to the ads.

In a "Consumer Reports" ranking of multi-facility operations on regulatory compliance, those facilities that ranked at the top had the most consistent staff, showing a strong correlation between success and a stable workforce. If you become the employer of choice in your market place, you will be the provider of choice.

For more information reducing turnover and recruitment, selection and retention of quality employees, click here for Workforce21 tool kit.