I don’t know how your hiring process works, but I was recently talking to a friend who runs a smallish regional assisted living company and he was telling me a horror story that involved a public physical fight between a couple of his employees.  We got to talking about his hiring process and it goes something like this:

  1. A caregiver, housekeeper or kitchen worker quits (or is fired).
  2. In the short-term, staff gets juggled and overtime is paid to cover that person’s shifts.
  3. There is a desperate and immediate need to hire someone.
  4. They either publish an ad in the local newspaper or on Craigslist and dig through the most recently received unsolicited applications sitting in a file drawer or they ask current employees if they know someone who wants a job.
  5. Because they are anxious to hire someone, the first warm body who is available, becomes the one they hire.
  6. Maybe 50% or 60% of the time it works ok and the rest of the time it doesn’t and the cycle begins again.

Probably you have a more formal system in your senior community, but statistics would suggest that most assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities end up with about the same results my friend. According to NCAL, turnover rates for assisted living communities range from 40% to 50% depending on which year you are looking at.  The results for skilled nursing are about the same or maybe a bit worse.

What is more fascinating and more helpful is an understanding that retention rates range from as low as 40% to as high as 75%. This means there are things you can do make it better:

  • First you have to create a good place to work.  While having a great building is nice, that’s not what really makes the difference.  It mostly has to doing with creating a happy work place.  This means you need to be a pleasant boss and have pleasant employees.  There also needs to be a real sense of community and commitment to the residents.
  • You have to pay a decent wage and provide adequate benefits.  It is true that studies are universal in demonstrating that pay is not the biggest motivator yet, if you provide substandard pay you will only get and keep substandard employees.
  • You need to create a hiring system that helps you early-on, identify applicants that have the highest likelihood of being compatible with your organization and on the flip side, realistically identify candidates who exhibit traits that might indicate they are not a good fit.
  • You need to have a structured interview process that will help you make the right decisions.

Last week I interviewed two HealthcareSource team members about how their assessment tools can help hiring managers do a better job of selecting the right team members.  Tomorrow, I will publish their thoughts on how to do this better.  Part Two Titled:  Changing the game: Hiring for the long term is now available.  

Are you a part of one of those low turnover organizations?  How do you accomplish this?  

Steve Moran