The Five Most Common Staffing Mistakes Leaders Make
Having looked inside dozens of senior care organizations – from private duty providers to CCRCs to hospice – and surveyed thousands of senior care workers, here are the five most common mistakes we at Transcend see leaders make that hurt their recruitment and retention efforts.
1. Looking for a silver bullet – This is the number one mistake for a reason, because just about everyone makes it. Contrary to popular belief, no one issue – reimbursements, travel nurse pay, signing bonuses, burnout, educational pipeline – got us into this mess and our research consistently shows no one solution will get us out. So, stop looking for signing bonuses, reimbursement increases and pay increases alone to change the outlook.
The path forward will require leaders to take hard looks in the mirror and work on culture, communications and processes. One of our clients did just that and now has turnover rates in the low double digits, roughly a third of the industry average.
2. Relying on Indeed.com for all recruitment needs – Indeed is a platform, not a strategy. Yes, it gets the most online traffic, but quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. Leaning on Indeed means you need the staff to filter through all those applications to find the good ones. And, Indeed doesn’t provide much range to stand out from other prospective employers and job postings. You’re simply paying more for more eyeballs.
A smarter move is to use those resources to network and build your brand as an employer. Current and former employees are your absolute best source of qualified, right-fit employees. A great communications plan will help you stay connected to these referral sources so you can become an employer of choice in their eyes. Key to this is having a strong social media presence and an easy-to-use website that’s audience focused. Together, these efforts keep your cost to acquire down while giving your referrer and consumer marketing efforts a lift, too.
3. Putting more effort into talent acquisition than talent management – As a leader, you’re driven to solve problems and right now that’s having enough staff to meet demand. We’ve seen many well-meaning leaders prioritize recruitment over retention and make decisions about recruitment that hurt retention. Signing bonuses are a great example of this. On their own, signing bonuses aren’t inherently bad, but they need to be done in concert with retention strategies to ensure you don’t give good (and tired) people a reason to leave.
To address your recruitment challenges, take care of your existing team first. Make sure you’ve got robust communications, policies and processes that support them in place. Like the oxygen mask on the airplane, taking care of the caretakers already onboard ensures there’s a company people will want to work for long into the future.
4. Using staff shortages as justification for keeping bad bosses – Bad relationships are the primary reason people start thinking about making a job change. You may think that brilliant jerk on your team is holding the whole thing together, and maybe they are doing a lot, but speaking from experience, you’ll be surprised how much more your team can accomplish without all the negative emotional energy.
The saying is cliché, but true: Hire slow, fire fast. We all make bad hires, but try to get the bad hires off your team in six months or less. Don’t start the clock on retention metrics until after the first six months. And, make sure you’ve got progressive counseling in place to address the brilliant jerks on your team. It’s not a visible action to your team, but it will create accountability for improvement or termination.
5. Using reimbursement model to justify a bad culture or out-of-date staffing approach – Your employees know the reimbursement model sucks. And, they’re willing to suffer the lower pay than they could make in a hospital or other setting IF you give them a good job, good boss, a good team, policies and procedures that make sense along with honest communication. Ask your employees for feedback on these areas. Listen to and act on this feedback. Tie leadership compensation and bonuses to progress on these fronts.
In his brilliant book, The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni writes that “the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are and everything to do with how healthy they are.”
One little change you can make right now toward building organizational health is showing your team genuine empathy. Our research shows that senior care workers wish their leadership would make more of an effort to understand how hard their jobs are right now.
So, get close to your people. Ask them questions. Look for problems you can solve. Don’t delegate this. Do it yourself. You’ll be glad you did.