In this labor market, where agencies face tight margins and increasing shortages, many agencies find they are being pushed into new territory. Many are forced to consider new benefits, new management strategies, and new staff programs that were never options before to maximize hiring & retention.
The following ideas came from a recent agency conference.
Implement Specific Policies to Increase Manager/Staff Interaction
An employee who feels respected and valued is more likely to stay with an agency. However, in the rush of day-to-day management, that can be difficult. It’s important for agencies to create policies that encourage meaningful daily interaction among all employees and their supervisors.
One agency discussed their policy of encouraging supervisors to “round on employees,” meaning that every day the supervisor needs to check in with every one of their direct reports, much like a physician rounding on their patients in a hospital. The formal term is MBWO (Management By Walking About).
Good communication within the agency is important for many reasons, but it mainly helps with retention.
Centralize and Optimize Recruiting Strategy
In a tight job market, agencies can’t afford to have an inefficient hiring process. If the process is dragged out, or the agency appears unresponsive, people will accept other positions and potentially great hires are missed.
Centralize the recruiting process (rather than leaving recruiting in the hands of individual departments or teams), and build a clear hiring process that utilizes applicant technology and on-boarding automation wherever possible. Having an affordable but effective applicant tracking system is key.
Formalize Training for Interviewers so The Right People Are Hired
Make sure you are hiring the right people by training interviewers on what questions to ask and what responses to look for during the hiring process.
Standardize the On-Boarding Process
Most DSP employees leave within three to six months of their start date. If you can get them over that initial stretch, they are more likely to stay. Create a formal on-boarding process that focuses on welcoming the employee to the agency as a whole; explaining your agency’s mission, values, goals, and how the employee fits into that picture. Build a relationship among the employee and their supervisor and coworkers, and use good training to prepare them to do their job well.
Eliminate Drug Screening Where Possible
This is a controversial option and not a real solution for direct care professionals, but there are many other positions where it may help with recruiting issues. Many agencies noted that with marijuana becoming legal in many states, it doesn’t hold the same stigma it once did – particularly among younger generations. This creates a major staffing problem.
One agency explained that this became such an issue that, while they still have drug testing for employees who provide consumer care, they eliminated drug testing among housekeeping, janitorial, grounds keeping, and dining services staff at their facility.
Create a Sense of Camaraderie Among Employees
You want your employees to have multiple ties into your agency at every level. To do that, create opportunities for socialization and build a sense of community. For example, create a Young Professionals Association and allow a small budget to support their activities outside of work, or offer days of service during work hours that allow employees to volunteer together in the community.
Build Connections Through a Peer Mentoring Program
Peer-to-peer mentoring can help employees build confidence in their role and feel a greater connection to the agency. Peers can assist with on-boarding, be a part of training, demonstrate quality work, be a resource for questions and concerns, and offer encouragement in tough situations. Prioritize the role of peer mentor with employees so they don’t feel overwhelmed and unable to meet their role as mentor and employee.
Give Employees a Concrete Personal Growth Plan
Map out the possibilities for advancement and new skill building with every staff member during reviews, and then check in periodically with their process. Offer scholarships for advanced education (that come with commitments to the agency) that allow employees to meet their personal goals. Investing in employees’ personal development helps them grow in their positions and see a long-term future within your agency.
Create a Culture of Visible Recognition and Appreciation
An email or a personal word of thanks is important, but you should also show that you value employees in more tangible and high-profile ways. Many studies show that recognition is a huge driver in employee performance and satisfaction. Highlight employees in your newsletter, recognize their work publicly at staff meetings, feature staff profiles on your website or social media, or invite a different high-performing employee to attend your board meetings monthly for a special introduction and thank you.
Allow for the Flexibility to Shift Small Policies That Can Make a Big Difference
Employee expectations about workplace culture are changing and creating some freedom in office policies that can have a big impact on day-to-day employee satisfaction. For example, several agencies saw employee satisfaction increase when dress code restrictions were relaxed. One agency improved morale by redesigning the break room for comfort and providing free drinks and snacks, and another noted that allowing employees to bring dogs to the office created a surprising amount of goodwill among employees.
Offer Debt Reduction as an Employee Benefit
Debt is a real concern for many employees, one that often outweighs the desire to save for retirement. For many agencies, offering debt reduction, particularly student loan repayment assistance, can be a major attraction to potential employees. This has gotten a lot of attention across all employment sectors. Last fall, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a private letter stating that companies could offer contributions to 401k retirement plans matching employee contributions to student loan debt.
Offer Child Care On-Site or a Credit Towards Day Care at Another Provider
Quality, affordable day care is a primary concern for many working parents, so offering subsidized day care can be a huge motivator for employees. Building your own day care center can be a challenge, but several agencies noted that they think of the day care as part of the employee benefit package, and offer anywhere from a 30% to 50% discount for employees. That discount is then charged back to the employee’s department, like their other benefits.
For more information on generating more job interviews, managing the hiring and on-boarding process, download the myApplicants fact sheet.
For more information on an affordable system for inter-agency HIPAA compliant communications, download the myCommunications fact sheet.
For more information on how to manage employee schedules more effectively and keep employees engaged, download the mySchedules fact sheet.