When Sub-Par Training Won’t Suffice

Is there a need for better, and more qualified employees in the specialized field of senior healthcare?  Here are some interesting ways to retain the best and brightest in the business!

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Most hospitals have a number of benefits and other programs aimed at retaining employees (i.e., town hall meetings, service awards and other recognitions, employee events and outings, internal communication initiatives), and we certainly have those at Mercy. However, for the last 10 years we have focused on revving up our efforts around somewhat untraditional activities that result in retention, and the results have been impressive. We’ve held our turnover rate below 10 percent for the last seven years, placing us in the top quartile among hospitals nationwide.

1. Provide a living wage.  Pay employees more than minimum wage for positions that could be compensated at that level — for example, housekeeping and dietary positions. The impact of turnover among these positions can sometimes be overlooked in favor of nurse or other clinician turnover, but continuity among these workers can be just as important. We have established a living wage specific to the four counties where our hospitals are located, and we make sure no employees are compensated below that level. Sleep-Apnea-and-Dementia

2. Survey employee engagement, not just satisfaction.  Many hospitals regularly perform surveys to gauge employee satisfaction, but employee engagement is more directly related to overall hospital performance. Satisfied employees focus on themselves, while engaged employees focus on themselves and the organization. They are physiologically committed to the organization’s success — the bigger picture. At Mercy, we’ve partnered with The Gallup Organization to measure employee engagement. Each department within our hospitals then works to develop an impact plan focused on improving certain areas of engagement. The plans are reviewed each month, and new objectives are set as needed.

3. Peer interview new hires. Enurse-blood-pressure-hypertension-elderly-black-man-600x360nsuring each new hire is a fit for the organization, both in terms of technical performance and behavioral fit, is a key element of reducing turnover. We’ve involved front-line employees in the recruitment process. Based on a recommendation from StuderGroup, a healthcare consulting firm, we began implementing peer interviewing techniques. Under the model, our human resources department screens candidates and then the department manager interviews and selects 2-3 candidates who he or she is willing to hire. These candidates participate in peer interviews with a panel of 2-3 high-performing department employees trained on interviewing techniques. The candidate has the chance to meet with their future coworkers and see who they will be working with and the employees can determine if there’s a cultural fit. The employees then have the final say in who is hired. Since implementing peer reviewing, the number of new hires leaving our organization within 90-180 days has dropped considerably.
images4. Hold high-performer conversations.  While most hospitals have annual employee reviews to assess performance and set development goals, Mercy goes beyond this by requiring all managers to hold annual “conversations” with all employees. Employees are rated as high, middle, or low performers. The focus is on high performers. These annual conversations are a more formal way for the manager to “rerecruit” the employee to the organization. Throughout the year, we expect our managers to informally recognize high performers and encourage their development. We recommend managers spend 80 percent of their time with high performers. In most organizations, managers end up devoting a majority of their time trying to improve low performers. Our managers set expectations for low-performers, hold them accountable and then move on to high performers as we believe time spent with them is more beneficial in terms of organizational impact.

Read more here for other ways to retain top talent!


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