Staff turnover in healthcare is traditionally high – up to 80% annually. This week’s guests have been extremely successful in keeping their staff around, and the tips they offer are simple, but effective.
This week, I’m happy to welcome Albert Blackwelder and Deke Cateau, the CEO and COO of A.G. Rhodes Health and Rehab. When Cateau joined the company 8 years ago, he was impressed with the longevity of the staff. He said, “I had never seen nursing facilities where staff had been there for 40+ years, so I knew something was different there.” With three locations in the Atlanta area, A.G. Rhodes boasts a 15% turnover at one location, and percentages in the low 40s for the other two locations.
Here’s how they do what they do – and you can, too! (That’s all the Dr. Seuss I have for your today. It’s safe to keep reading.)
We’ve talked a lot about creating a strong culture and about creating an experience for your customers. Truly creating a community is a combination of both. In the world of long-term care it becomes even more critical to cater to your customers individual preferences and needs, and support a personal relationship between staff and clients. Says Blackwelder, “To do that really well involves getting to know residents, paying attention to very specific needs that they have, and trying to address and facilitate residents living life well.” For the team at A.G. Rhodes, creating this community is not only a plus for the residents, but it keeps the staff happy with their jobs as well.
Empower Your Staff to Make Decisions
These days especially it’s very important to empower your staff at all levels to make decisions. Millennials are a large percentage of today’s workforce. It’s incredibly important to them to feel like they are making a difference in their jobs, and that they are able to contribute to decisions.
A.G Rhodes focuses on allowing as much freedom as possible to their staff. Says Cateau, “We try to break down the bureaucracy of leadership, and empower staff at the lowest levels to make decisions. It’s just a simple philosophy. Us taking care of our staff enables them to take proper care of our elders, and it trickles down into every facet of our operation.”
Do Good Things
It’s increasingly important to today’s workforce to feel like they are making a difference. A.G. Rhodes is a mission driven organization, and they cultivate that sense of mission throughout their organization. About 75% to 80% of the residents are Medicaid beneficiaries, and the compensation provided by the Medicaid program does not cover the cost of care for those residents. A.G. Rhodes relies, in part, on the community to fill in the expense gap so they are able to provide personalized, high quality care for their Medicaid residents. Says Blackwelder, “Our mission is to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves, and that mission drives whatever we do.”
Even if you are a more traditional company, involving your employees in making a difference for others is an important part of keeping them happy. According to this article, “More than 50% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values, while 90% want to use their skills for good.”
Some more traditional companies start foundations, as did previous guest Shally Steckerl. His company, The Sourcing Institute, created a non-profit branch that offers job training and placement to people in displaced situations – such as military spouses and returning veterans.
Other organizations form partnerships with existing nonprofits (Why Good Values Are Good Business) or find other ways to inspire employees with their missions (9 Ways to Be a CEO Who is Changing the World).
Handle the Basics
This one is short, sweet, and obvious, but worth mentioning. Have good benefits for your employees. A.G. Rhodes was among the first long term care facilities to offer health insurance and pensions to their staff, beginning in the 1970s. A.G. Rhodes believed (and still believes) that by taking care of their employees, they create an environment in which their employees take good care of their residents. A 2014 Aflac WorkForces report says that 80% of employees believe that their benefits package influences their engagement with their job. Make sure this isn’t a detail you are overlooking.
Blackwelder and Cateau are also very selective in the employees they bring on. Says Cateau, “We do not want staff who come to us to be cogs, and just stick to the task at hand. We want staff to come to us and build caring relationships with our seniors, and caring relationships with our other staff.” They look for employees that will be willing to learn from the elders, and really create two-way relationships.
Blackwelder credits the relationships that A.G. Rhodes has developed with local schools as one of the ways they are able to hand-select their staff. As students finish their training programs and begin to seek employment, A.G. Rhodes has already built relationships and has first hand knowledge of the candidates. He says that they are “looking for people who have that sense of calling. This is what they want to do, and this is how they choose to live their life. Being with elders, and helping them, and learning from them.”
It’s important to be constantly looking for new ways to take care of our employees. Listen to what they have to say, and don’t be afraid to change as the workforce changes.
I’d love to hear from you. What ways have you found to keep your team happy, and keep them around long term? What’s worked? What’s crashed and burned? What have you been wanting to try?