February 6, 2019
By Linda Fisher, CDAL
Merrill Gardens at Auburn
Get two or more operations managers together and the topic of conversation will inevitably turn to staffing. Much has been written about recruiting, onboarding, and retention. Weary of the revolving door, recruiting, hiring, training again and again, I started to look at this problem from a different perspective.
Focusing on attracting rather than recruiting begins with creating a wonderful work environment for current employees. But what does that mean? What makes a team member wake up in the morning and say, “I can’t wait to get to work today?” They want the same things we want—clear expectations, fairness, transparency, appreciation, kindness, safety, open communication, and opportunity for growth. They want to succeed and we want to enable them to do that. When this environment exists, applicants feel it when they walk in the door, and your current employees will refer their friends. Before you know it, virtually all of your new hires will be referrals from your current employees!
The other side of the staffing coin is looking closely at the people we currently have. Instead of turning them over, how can we keep them engaged so they never want to go anywhere else? There is a tendency to look at the requirements of a position and to fit a person to that position. Human beings are more complex than that. The work has to be done, of course, and a good employee will meet the expectations. But we want great, not good, at every level and in every position. Sometimes an employee who is just okay or even failing in one position will excel in a completely different environment. Just because someone has the technical skills to be a housekeeper doesn’t mean they will succeed in an environment where they need to stay motivated and on track without supervision. That same person may thrive in an environment where they have a narrower task expectation and a supportive supervisor close by. Even dishwashing can be a chance for someone to thrive, especially if it gives them an opportunity to develop new skills as a prep cook or beyond. I have seen amazing transformations in attitude and performance by simply making a change like this, allowing us to retain engaged employees who might otherwise have moved on.
This approach requires community leaders to know all of their employees as individuals, and to interact with them on a regular basis. We need to be out of our offices and on the floor every day. I know it is sometimes difficult to find the time, but the results are well worth the investment.