by Larry Johnson
Regardless of the industry in which you work, I’m sure you will agree that attracting and keeping good employees is essential to your success. But imagine yourself running a nursing home where the industry average for staff turnover is an incredible 100% per year. And little wonder. Most of the work is done by poorly paid nursing assistants who are overworked emptying bedpans, feeding and bathing disoriented residents, and lifting the infirm in and out of bed.
Then imagine being Mary Love, the administrator of Hardee Manor Nursing Home in Wauchula, FL. When Mary was hired to run the place, the care provided residents was so poor that Hardee Manor had been placed on probation by the state health care licensure board and was in danger of losing its certification to receive Medicare funds. (These funds are the lifeblood of most nursing homes).
Mary knew she had to turn things around by drastically improving quality of service. At the time, the yearly turnover of nursing staff at Hardee Manor was a whopping 250%. Mary figured you can’t deliver great care to residents if the faces of the care givers keep changing every day, so her first objective was to reduce turnover.
Here’s what she and her management team did:
Aggressive recruitment: Understanding that good employees are a scarce commodity, Mary and her team launched a marketing campaign to attract the best. They created full page newspaper ads that featured pictures of smiling employees along with testimonials to the great working conditions there (a bit of a stretch at the time.)
Like Marine Corp commercials, these ads clearly communicated that Hardee Manor was a great place to work, but only for the very best health care professionals.
Higher standards for selection: When resources are scarce, it is tempting to lower your standards just to get warm bodies fill vacancies. Mary and her staff did just the opposite, raising the standards for every job category. The idea was to create a team to which highly quality people would want to belong. As Mary put it, “Eagles are attracted to other eagles, not to turkeys…so we hire only eagles or we do without.”
Mary first asked the employees if they would support this hiring approach. After all, they would have the burden of covering the vacant positions until the right eagles could be found. To her delight, the employees supported the approach 100%.
Employee involvement in the hiring process Mary decided that she could make better judgements about an applicant if the applicant’s future coworkers participated in the hiring process. After all, who knows the job better than they? Additionally, she figured the coworkers would have a greater commitment to a new-hire’s success if they had some say in hiring the person. She did this by having a committee of employees interview and vote on each applicant. No one was hired who was vetoed by the committee.
As time passed, the level of competence, caring, and job stability of the workforce began to rise. Employees began to feel that working at Hardee Manor was like belonging to an exclusive club where only the best belong. As their pride has risen, the turn-over rate has declined from 250% to less than 17%. Today, Hardee Manor operates solidly in the black, its Medicare certification is restored, and it has received a perfect rating from the state licensing office. Mary gives much of the credit for this turn-around to the fact that staff turnover is now so low.
Of course, it has taken more that aggressive hiring, raising standards, and involving employees in the hiring process for Hardee Manor to achieve such startling results. In next month’s edition of Tips For Today’s Managers, I’ll expand on what Mary did to reduce employee turnover and turn around a losing situation. If you’re dying to know and can’t wait, e-mail me at [email protected]