Excerpts from an interview with Clint Maun, CSP -
"If you believe you can’t find good help anymore, you need to get out of the people business," says Clint Maun, president of Maun-Lemke, a human resource consulting firm in Omaha, NE. "There are plenty of people, they just don’t choose to work for you."
Maun helps long term care providers recruit and retain staff - an often overwhelming task but one that, when done properly, separates the facility that excels in serving the elderly from one that consistently settles for the minimum.
"If you are an employer of choice, you’ll be the provider of choice," Maun asserts. And this standing will also guarantee you great survey results. Maun adds that in a recent Consumer Reports, nursing facilities that scored the highest under regulatory compliance were also reported to have the most consistent staff.
Tips To Recruit and Retain
Maun tells facilities suffering from a staffing drain to become introspective. "First," he says, "work on retention, then selection, then recruitment. Don’t try to find more people if you can’t do what it takes to keep good people." He offers the following pointers on retention and recruitment:
- Analyze your turnover. "Know by memory which positions experience the most turnover," says Maun.
- Survey pays and benefits. Providers should conduct their own market research on wages every six months rather than rely on association studies or conversations with peers. Find out what your competitors offer, he says, by sending volunteers into their facilities to apply for jobs.
- Survey your employees. Ask employees every 18 months for an objective snapshot about what they like and dislike about work. Give employees credit for any improvements that spring from this feedback as well a report of the results.
- Survey your customers. "Passing a survey is not enough to show employees results," says Maun. Employees want and need concrete feedback about their performances from residents and families.
- Conduct exit interviews. If staff request to move to another unit or leave altogether, find out why. "People may say similar things," says Maun. "You’ll know who has been there a long time but is ineffective. This person is the bottom feeder in the system."
- Get employees involved. Employees today want choices and to make their own decisions, whether it be quality improvement projects or scheduling, says Maun.
- Coach - don’t counsel. Maun feels that staff should coach new employees and charge nurses should give the bulk of negative and positive feedback to staff. Effective feedback is sincere, simple and immediate, he says. And negative feedback should always be given in private.
When giving negative feedback, "get employees to own the problem," Maun points out. "Ask them what they are going to do to solve the problem with the understanding that, if they don’t, there will be consequences."
This approach is coaching, not counseling, he continues. The difference is that when supervisors counsel, they listen to excuses and get bogged down in staffs’ personal lives. Instead, a supervisor should keep focused on the problem at hand. Lest this appear harsh, Maun adds that supervisors should have the phone numbers of counseling organizations ready to give to an employee in need. It, however, shouldn’t be the supervisor’s role to stand in for these professionals.
- Orient passionately. Make it an honor for a staff member to be a mentor to a new hire and reward him or her. Have the mentor along when other staff welcome a new hire, and announce he or she is coming. Mentors should use a sequential checklist to orient new hires and teach then what they need to know as they need to know it.
- Change your job descriptions. State that a positive attitude and the ability to be a team player are prerequisites for the job.
- Interview professionally. "Make a real appointment to meet candidates with real coffee," he continues. "Plan the interview and check references ahead of the first interview."
- Conduct behavioral interviews. Gain insight into a candidate’s dependability by asking a question such as: Can you describe when you couldn’t show up for work and how did you handle it?
- Organize model employees. Maun recommends facility leaders organize a committee of employees with exceptional qualities to come up with a list of essential qualities for jobs, contribute to job descriptions and classified ads, and conduct second interviews.
He advises facility leaders to ask the team members: Why do you work here? Would you help me find people? Maun says developing a recruitment team represents a certain philosophy - to build a facility through its strengths and not its weaknesses. This means raising up the best employees in the facility and not spending too much time correcting or compensating for weaker employees.
And, he adds, it means steering the facility away from a dependence on staffing agencies, which enforces a mindset in a facility that people are replaceable and can skirt responsibilities. When Maun consults with facilities they set a date for the facility to be "agency-free".
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