Hospice & Staff Retention: Part 3 Connection & Engagement
“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek
Keeping your hospice team members long-term is a critical element to your agency’s success. The stability impacts the delivery of consistent care which affects patients, referrals, CHAPS reporting, business operations, and much more.
7 Elements of Staff Retention
- Alignment: Company’s purpose or mission, the company values & direction. Click here to read Part 1. Alignment
- Coaching: Company leadership care about employee concerns, provide assistance as needed, and encourage development. Click here to read Part 2. Coaching
- Connection: Employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful maximizing their potential and information is transparent.
- Engagement: Team members feel the work is challenging & productive and that they want to do their best.
- Leadership: Team members feel confidence in their company’s leadership & management.
- Performance: Well developed processes that are flexible, achieving goals, innovation, leadership that is involved in operations.
- The Basics: Pay, benefits, training, expectations. “People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.” – Dale Carnegie
Connection Drives Engagement
The terms connection and engagement are often used interchangeably. One way to think about the difference is that connection refers to how that employee feels about themselves within your agency – a sense of belonging. This belonging comes from working with fellow employees and alignment with the company mission and values. Connection provides a sense of meaningfulness.
Engagement picks up from where connection ends and hones in on how the employee feels about your agency and their investment back into the company. The level of connection and employee feels drives their engagement in terms of increased effort, productivity, quality, and is a key component of their desire to stay with the the company.
Build A Connection Strategy
“Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.” – Ken and Scott Blanchard, Do People Really Know What You Expect from Them? Fast Company
Connection flows directly from Alignment: Your Company’s purpose or mission, the company values & direction. Click here to read Part 1. Alignment. Alignment is the foundation on which the emotional and psychological feeling your team has of belonging is built. Team members need to feel like they are in a place they belong, that they have not just the right skills and certifications for their job but are also aligned with the company’s mission and values. A connection strategy will allow you to build on that foundation to ensure that sense of belonging develops into truly connected and engaged team members.
4 Tips to build A Connection Strategy
- Coaching: Company leadership care about employee concerns, provide assistance as needed, and encourage development. Click here to read Part 2. Coaching. Alongside coaching is the importance of informal conversations, ensuring that leadership engages in casual conversation with people throughout the company. Recent studies have shown that psychological safety is a key element of feeling connected. Informal interactions, simply as part of the day and importantly, at meetings, create a shared personal experience that allows team members to feel safe and connected.
- Celebrate Wins: Celebrating a company win helps create a culture of pride and achievement. Wins don’t have to be major championship title holding successes. And celebrating a win doesn’t have to cost much if any time or money. Picked up a new referral source? Fantastic! send out a company-wide email. Went from 50 to 60 on your census? Amazing! Send out a company-wide email. Developed a solution for a process that employees complained about? Super-awesome! Send out a company-wide email. Employee anniversary? Phenomenal! Send out a company-wide email. Take time at the beginning and ends of meetings to mention recent wins. Even once a quarter, gather the team for an extra 10 min before a meeting to have a slightly more formal company celebration of wins.
- Get Social: Social interactions are an easy and virtually endless opportunity to help your team members build connections. Create a space for people to eat lunch together rather than just alone at their desks. One agency with exceptionally connected and engaged team members carves out time to play games together – combining lunch with Pictionary. Another agency has a regular game of Kahoot. Another agency sets up rolling volunteer efforts in small team groups. Creating space to allow people to know each other personally, not just in the dictated performance of tasks, develops strong bonds of trust and connection.
- Compete, Recognize, and Reward:
- Friendly competition not only drives employees to step up and work harder but also creates awareness of the efforts of their fellow employees. Competition can be as simple as getting documentation done in a timely manner, or the most referrals, or any metric for every discipline in your agency.
- Recognition is an important element for developing a feeling of connection. Utilize the team nature of hospice for team members to recognize their co-workers. It can be as simple as online form where employees write one thing your co-worker did well or helped with or went above and beyond. Both writing and receiving this ‘peer review’ can also be couched under friendly competition – who received the most, who wrote the most reviews.
- While competition and recognition often take place in silos of teams or disciplines, reward can be both internal and external. Company-wide announcements are internal. Hand-written notes showing recognition are a well-received internal reward. Announcements of recognition can also be made on the company’s social media platforms for both wider internal and for external reward. Reward isn’t about money. Reward is about building a culture of appreciation and not taking people for granted. A culture of appreciation makes it clear that your agency’s leadership is actively interested, invested, and engaged in your team members’ as people and their success and growth within your agency.
By developing a connection strategy you will find that as employees become more connected, when they feel safe, and that they belong, their level of engagement increases.
The 4 Connection Questions
As you review your team members, and try to make sense as to whether people are connected and engaged, or not, ask yourself:
- Do your employees care about the success of their teammates? Do they go above and beyond to help their coworkers?
- Do your employees have a generally positive attitude at work?
- Are your employees dedicated to the company and to what’s best for the company?
- Are employees improving – themselves, the quality of their work, educationally/developmentally?
Engagement Meets Business Practices
It is possible to have connected employees that are not engaged. They may stick around for job security, pay, friendship, familiarity, whatever… but are not engaged with the company, do not have the company’s best interests in mind with a drive to go above and beyond.
A major stumbling block for many companies is aligning mission, coaching and connection – the ‘social sciences’ of a company, with the reality of business decisions and processes.
This tension often plays out in issues of business infrastructure such as scheduling, flex-time, rigid unrealistic task expectations, decisions that do not align with supposed mission & values, and tools required.
These elements, the tools team-members need to succeed in their roles, are some of the most overlooked issues when companies look at fostering engagement.
Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report references this point as “enabling infrastructure” and as the top driver of engagement. Roadblocks, inflexible processes and tools have a direct negative impact on employee engagement.
For example, if your software makes documentation a cumbersome task where it can only be completed on a computer and has no or poorly developed mobile application, your team members will get frustrated. If fixing a mistake in your documentation requires an admin sign-off, and they can’t move forward until they can get approval for a basic function, your team members will get frustrated. If information must be requested and isn’t transparent and accessible,… they and your agency will ultimately be better served by tools that empower team members to do their best rather than working with tools that require constant permission from above.
There is an instinct for hospice agency leadership to have tight controls over every aspect of the team members’ job performance. However, engaged employees need and want to be empowered to make decisions and work quickly without being hampered by micro-management, overly tight controls, and a workplace that is inefficient or bureaucratic.
Some hospice agencies, especially the larger corporate providers, are rigid and inflexible and need tools to match that cultural mindset. But if you’re a an independent agency that has an aligned mission and is the type of agency that wants flexibility and an empowering culture for your team, you need to find out more about the Hospice EMR built from the ground up for teams like yours!
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