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Staff retention is an issue across all businesses. In healthcare however, and especially in hospice, keeping your team members is not just difficult, but is crucial to the fundamental purposes of your company. The ability to keep your team members long term affects patient care, referrals, chaps reporting, and much more.

7 Elements of Staff Retention

  1. Alignment: Company’s purpose or mission, the company values & direction.
  2. Coaching: Company leadership care about employee concerns, provide assistance as needed, and encourage development.
  3. Connection: Employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful maximizing their potential and information is transparent.
  4. Engagement: Team members feel the work is challenging & productive and that they want and are wanted to be retained.
  5. Leadership: Team members feel confidence in their company’s leadership & management.
  6. Performance: Well developed processes that are flexible, achieving goals, innovation, leadership that is involved in operations.
  7. The Basics: Pay, benefits, training, expectations.

Issues of pay & benefits are at the bottom of the list. We’re not going to spend much time discussing ‘the basics’ because your agency is already offering competitive pay & benefits in the marketplace. When pay is competitive – The Basics, as numerous employee studies have shown, are not main drivers of staff retention. If your company is not providing competitive pay and benefits, the other points are pretty much irrelevant.

Alignment: Mission + Values = Direction

“Most people know what an organization does, but few know why they do it.” – Simon Sinek’s bestseller ‘Start with Why’

Your agency’s purpose or mission are strategic resources that guide your team in achieving goals.

To align team members with your strategic vision, we have to understand the difference between a company that is purpose or mission driven. When that vision is clear, it drives all the elements in your agency to pulling in the same direction.

Mission-driven: Why a company or organization exists. A mission-driven company focuses on delivering value and benefits to their clients, team members, investors, subscribers, and all those who fall under the company’s umbrella of operations.

Purpose-driven: Like a mission-driven company, a purpose also defines the ‘why’ for a company or organization. However, for purpose-driven companies that why is typically greater, more global than just those under the company’s umbrella.

These terms are easily confused and often used interchangeably. Understanding their differences and developing a clear vision statement -the WHY your company does what it does – will help guide your decisions and processes towards outcomes that match your goals.

Chipotle vs. Taco Bell

Chipotle and Taco Bell both offer similar fast-food products. On Chipotle’s website you can click on Our Values and you find that Chipotle is a company with a mission.

“We believe that food has the power to change the world.”

They continue with their values that support their purpose:

“We Do It By Being Real. Chipotle was born of the radical belief that there is a connection between how food is raised and prepared, and how it tastes. Real is better. Better for You, Better for People, Better for Our Planet. It may be the hard way to do things, but it’s the right way.”

This purpose and these values carry through to Chipotle’s brand marketing, charitable giving, food ingredients, packaging, and elements from top to bottom across the company.

On the Taco Bell site, there is no tab for Our Values. There is no mention of ingredients, sustainability, or greater global purpose with societal impact.

What you see when you land on Taco Bell’s website is a $1 Beefy Potato-Rito, party-like imagery, and variations of the word crave such as craveable & cravings. Taco Bell’s mission is to provide their customers yummy accessible food with a fun attitude. And like Chipotle’s strategic decisions and operations are guided by their purpose, Taco Bell’s operations are guided by their mission.

Despite the divergent paths these two companies take in providing similar offerings, both companies are highly successful with well known and well-regarded brands with legions of loyal fans/customers that align directly with their respective philosophies.

Hospice Agency Missions

Corporate hospice A: “The mission of Hospice A is to provide individualized and compassionate care, education, and support for the dying and those who have experienced loss.

The corporate hospice’s mission clearly defines the regulatory standard of hospice care. Their mission is virtually word for word out of the CMS guidelines for what is the [minimum] standard of hospice care. While the large national corporate hospice may have all the resources to provide for any possibility, there is little sense of the personal, of flexibility, or compassion and heart. This mission indicates a focus on top down driven guidelines that does not empower autonomy by team members and rather enforces a standard set of processes which teams must adhere to.

Independent hospice X:His mission was to bring premier hospice care to those in need, and to help patients and their loved ones make the final months, weeks and days comfortable and meaningful.

The mission statement of the independent agency is deeply personal, both from the local ownership and to the patient and the patient’s loved one. The focus in this statement is on the heart & soul of hospice care with a will to be the best. Delivering premier care offers a sense that this team proactively develops processes that inspire professionalism, compassion, and empowers team members to find solutions far beyond the minimum standard of regulatory required care.

For example, recently a large hospital system with their own hospice was trying to discharge a patient over the weekend and referred to hospice. The patient’ had the hospital’s HMO insurance but the hospital was ‘not taking on any more home care patients at this time.’

Which means this patient had no insurance coverage that would pay for hospice outside of the hospital’s system.

A large national investor-owned hospice, with all the resources one could hope for, scheduled a meeting for Mon. pending their foundations acceptance, scheduling, transport arrangements etc. etc., all of which meant that at best, the patient would get home Tuesday afternoon if the patient met their foundation criteria.

The frustrate social worker called a local independent agency that met the patient at the hospital on the weekend. DME and Meds were at the patient’s house shortly before the patient arrived home in the MedTransport arranged by the local agency’s hospice admin.

The patient was able to spend a few days at home with loved ones before passing.

All of this was done knowing ahead of time that there would be no insurance coverage, everything was totally out of pocket, and no foundation support.

Just a local agency following their mission to deliver premier end-of-life care.

When comparing the missions between a Corporate hospice agency and an independently owned hospice agency we can see how the different mission statements design the philosophy and therefore the operations, processes, and outcomes of these different types of agencies both of which provide, on the surface, similar offerings.

For more on the differences between local and corporate hospice agencies check out our article:

Hospice Tools: A Mission-driven Company

We believe that hospice is a unique calling best served by local independent hospice agencies. We believe that hospice professionals want to do their best and deliver premier end of life care. Our mission is to support independent agencies and help them to provide their premier care by delivering flexible, powerful, & affordable solutions that align with the hospice philosophy, hospice agency values, and how hospices actually deliver hospice care.

Our tag line is How Hospice Happens because our software and our services are built by hospice pros and customized per hospice agency client to operate according to their processes; how their hospice happens.

We do not mandate cumbersome workflows developed by a corporate software vendor with multiple other healthcare modules. We reject the rigid ‘locked-down’ systems that corporate hospices use, and need to use, in order to manage their sprawling executive-driven network of national agencies.

Our mission shows clearly in how we develop features such as the flexibility in allowing multiple team members to view charts and document for each patient. As hospice happens wherever the patient is, we have real mobile apps for charting, information, and uploading documents on the go. Our forms and reports are super-customizable so that each agency develops an EMR that matches their workflows, not what we think the workflow should be. We don’t define how we think hospice should happen; we follow how your agency makes hospice happen.

Our mission of building according to how hospice happens tracks deep into creating our values.

Service: We recognize that independent agencies are flexible and have a drive to say yes. Our value, like yours, is to deliver unparalleled service.

Accessibility: We know that hospice isn’t a standard 9 to 5 gig. That’s why we have mobile apps, super fast charting and aim to be available and responsive far beyond the typical ‘business hours.’

Simplicity: Hospice is hard work. All our leadership team comes from the world of hospice. Our goal in delivering solutions that support hospice means using our knowledge, and our client’s knowledge, to develop comprehensive and compliant documentation that is super-simple and fast to complete – allowing hospice professionals the freedom to do the actual work of hospice. Even our software developers work closely with hospice clinicians to learn and understand their needs because you cannot deliver a hospice solution if you don’t truly understand hospice.

Partnership: Local hospices develop deep care partnerships with their referral sources and go above and beyond to service their partners and patients. While larger corporate hospice agencies are often a part of health care systems, with home health or nursing facilities, hospitals and more, we focus on developing true partnerships with independent hospice agencies and providing adaptive solutions to those needs.

Mission Goals

Just like a plan of care details your patients’ problem and the goals you want to achieve, clearly defining your mission or purpose will intuitively develop your company values and lead to achievable goals. From that point on, your decision making, culture & philosophy, marketing, resource allocation and every corner of your operations will flow in the same direction. For tips on how to ensure team members are aligned with your agency’s mission or purpose, check out our article:

Not having a clearly defined mission leads to a lack of culture and confusing often contradictory decision making that can seem arbitrary and impulsive. When team members understand the why they do what they do, and not just the what, you’ll find that from recruiting to retention you will develop team members who mesh with your mission and values; people who want to work with your ‘why’ and will stick with you because they are aligned with your outlook.

This clarity and internal alignment will help keep your staff long term which directly impacts patient care and your CHAPS surveys. Patients and loved one want a regular stable team handling their care. Not only will alignment help recruit and retain staff but it will empower your teams to operate in a consistent and organized process that supports your brand philosophy and processes.

Find out more about the Hospice EMR built for teams like yours!

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Get to the Top with Hospice Tools!


Hospice Tools is the EMR built from the ground up for hospice & palliative agencies to deliver pro features such as:

  • Super-fast IDG 
  • Smart care plans
  • Customizable forms
  • Export charts and reports with a click!
  • Hospice billing with seamless Medicaid Room & Board tracking
  • Unparalleled service & support

and so very much more!

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