Despite COVID-19, Retain Talent Through Connection and Culture

 In Improving Satisfaction Scores, Reducing Employee Turnover

In “normal times,” turnover is difficult. There’s disruption within your staff, shifts in work and lost productivity as well as costs to identify, screen and interview candidates and onboard a new member of your team. Even pre-pandemic, turnover in senior care was astonishingly high, ranging from 50% in assisted living to over 80% in home care. All of this is amplified now as we navigate the challenges of operating during a pandemic. And, with increased unemployment benefits, senior care providers are up against a new competitor for talent – the government.

People leave jobs for various reasons. According to research published in Harvard Business Review, the top three reasons people stay or leave a job are opportunities for growth and advancement, people (most often managers) and work-life balance. Prior to COVID-19, organizations often responded to the recruitment and retention challenges by throwing money at the problem. The answer was to increase pay for some positions or offer sign-on bonuses. Unfortunately, this only perpetuated the problem. Yes, there are some people who will jump from facility to facility for higher pay, better benefits or the perception that the grass is greener. For the majority of employees though, money isn’t the top reason they leave their job.

Rather than focusing only on pay, let’s take a broader look at what motivates employees to stay with an employer. Research from Great Place to Work, the consulting firm that compiles Fortune magazine’s annual list of 100 Best Companies to Work For, found that “when it comes to retaining talent, inspiring a sense of purpose and meaning at work are key issues employers should attend to.”

It’s about connection and culture. While the initial reaction might be “let’s tackle that after COVID-19,” now is the time.

Engage your employees as brand advocates

Your employees are the face of your brand. The interactions your staff have with patients, families and professional referrers shape their perception of your organization. With so much riding on your reputation, a continuous focus on employee engagement is a must. Engaged employees give more effort and are more likely to embody your brand’s values and culture.

Define your “why”

You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying “take care of the people who take care of your customers.” It’s a leadership concept that transcends industries. It gets to the heart of valuing your employees and inspiring them to do their best work. It’s the “why.” “Why” you do what you do.

Simon Sinek is an author who popularized the concept of “why” in his TED Talk in 2009. He said, “When we provide people with a reason to come to work that they care about, they will give us their blood, sweat and tears. They will give us their discretionary effort and their passion and their best work, not because they have to, but because they want to.” With a connection to your organization’s “why” – your mission and purpose – employees aren’t as likely to jump ship in search of greener grass.

With the added stress of COVID-19 care on a variety of healthcare positions, experienced candidates may be looking for a different opportunity where they feel valued in contributing to positive patient/family experiences.

Activate culture building

If your “why” is your mission and purpose, your culture is the “how” you do what you do. It’s how you create a community for seniors. It’s how you care for patients and families near the end of life. It’s also how you shape an employee experience. There are countless ways to demonstrate your culture to drive deeper connections between you and your employees. Here are a few examples:

  • Mentoring programs – partnering new employees with more senior employees or an aspiring clinical leader with a director not only creates bonds between them but also helps to guide employees and teach new skills.
  • Internal communications – connect your employees through messaging that aligns around your purpose (the “why” of “what” you do), goals, objectives and culture. Effective internal communication creates a sense of teamwork and a connection to a higher purpose.
  • Physical space – visibly showcase key elements of your organization in your building, such as illustrating your mission and values and highlighting family satisfaction and appreciation for your team.
  • Social media – shine a light on your team and the ways they care for your patients and families.

Focusing on your “why” (purpose) and “how” (culture) will create deeper connections with your employees and also establish your organization as the employer of choice in your community. It will be your grass that’s the greenest!

Are there innovative ways you’ve tackled turnover in your organization? If you need assistance, we can help you address staff retention by igniting your “why” within your organization. Give us a shout.



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