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Preventing Turnover: 5 Reasons Why Healthcare Employees Stay

Posted by Robert Accomando on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 @ 07:36 PM

Stressed nurse pic

Employee turnover in healthcare is a chronic problem affecting patient care and healthcare costs. 

According to American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) fifth annual HR Initiatives Survey, the loss of a single healthcare worker costs organizations the employee’s first year’s salary. So why do healthcare workers leave their employers?  More importantly, how can you get them to stay?

As a seasoned leadership recruiter I have literally chatted with thousands of healthcare professionals in my many quests to find the ideal candidate for my healthcare clients.  Most of the time it's about timing.  Catch a great professional at the right time -- a moment of growing frustration or career anxiety -- and most will listen carefully to the opportunity I am presenting. But sometimes there are candidates who just won't consider making a career move no matter what.  Even when the money would be a significant step-up. Why, you ask?

Here are 5 reasons why healthcare employees stay:

1. Work / Life Balance.  Life is not linear - not for anyone.  Child care, auto repairs, dance recitals, dentist appointments, baseball games, caring for ailing parents or a spouse; life happens. Good leaders in good organizations find a way to give their good employees the flexibility to help them manage some of their competing priorities.  Yes, I know that there is work to be done.  But some flexibility has to be baked into the cake.  It just does. Great leaders and great organizations find a way.

2. Great Leadership.  Great leaders have something more than intelligence and technical skills. There is humility to them. They are disarming. Approachable. They nurture and delight in the success of others. Their passion is evident in their uncompromising commitment to beauty of their vision. The loyalty, commitment and excellence they inspire in others are the earned results of their character.  True leaders serve.  Turns out that when you work for a great leader, it's really hard to leave. So always hire the best leaders you can, and when you have them move mountains to keep them happy. 

3. Respect.  Organizations that employ shared governance generally enjoy higher retention rates. For a healthcare professional, having a real ability to influence the decision making process lays the foundation for converting an employee to an engaged stakeholder.  When you couple having a seat at the table with true personal and professional respect for the ideas and insight offered by your team, you have the building blocks of loyalty.  

4. Succession Planning. The one question that seems to always put a chink in the employee loyalty armor is, "So tell me, what has your supervisor discussed with you as far as next steps in your career in your current organization?"  Most of the time, I get a long pause followed by, "uh, we really haven't discussed it."  Leaders need to dream openly about how they intend to help grow the careers of those that they lead.  As Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, once said, "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others."

5. Connection.  "I love everyone I work with.  I hope I am lucky enough to retire here."  Once I hear that, I know I need to get to my next call.  What the bean counters always miss as they calculate quarterly revenue goals is the human connection needed to sustain human hardship.  We are all hard-wired with a longing for connection, belonging and safety, and when we get what we need from our pack, our bodies reward us with powerful feelings of pride, loyalty and love (a/k/a, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin).  Treat employees like you love them, and they will love you back.  They will also love those you serve - your patients.  That's not hippie talk.  It's science. 

And for you bean counters out there, there's hope.  You just need to change your perspective. Consider these reasons people leave and you will find that in the long run, your healthcare organization will not only earn a lot more and spend a lot less, but improve patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes as well.  It's about smart and compassionate leadership.

Tags: Candidate, C-Suite Advice, HR Leader Advice, HR Thought Leadership; Transformational Leadership

5 Insights for Communicating Competency During a Job Interview

Posted by Robert Accomando on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 @ 02:03 PM

Since a lot of what you are going to learn about a job doesn’t happen until the interview stage, and in some cases, not until you’ve been in the role a few months, how does a conscientious candidate prepare to discuss why she is particularly well-suited for the role’s challenges before the first meeting?  The answer is preparation, preparation, preparation.  
1. Do your homework.  The more you know about the organization, the interviewers and the specific opportunity itself, the more likely you will be able to confidently address related issues that arise during the interview process on the fly. Preparation translates into confidence, which in turn translates into your relaxation.  Being relaxed allows you to think more clearly, listen more effectively and respond more appropriately. Set aside an hour or so to research the organization, if you haven’t already. A good place to start is the website, especially sections dealing with the relevant department or unit. Also Google© the organization for recent news articles or press releases. The more you know about the organization, its past successes and current challenges, the more prepared you are to intelligently address related topics that may come up during the interview. These details often provide a context for examples of how your skills and experience can help the organization in an area that is in development. Moreover, your preparedness sends several important implied messages to the interviewer: “I am a careful and thoughtful professional.” “I understand what is important to you and I can help in unique ways”. “I really want the job.”   
2.  Know Your Background. Take the time to carefully review your own resume and actively recall each of your various job functions, titles, related training, merits earned, items of distinction and skills honed throughout your career progression.  You will be asked to discuss these details during the interview in the context of how your skills and experience might be used to solve the facility’s current challenges.  The time spent remembering those details, and how those skills and experiences are “transferable” to the challenges inherent in the new opportunity, are going to help you confidently communicate to the interviewer that you have a proven track record that shows you can get the job done right.
3.  Review The Job Description. This is some of the best time you can spend in preparation for your interview.  Within the job description are most of the key aspects of the opportunity that you need to be able to comfortably discuss within the context of your own unique skills and experience.  You should be able to easily explain, using actual examples from your professional past, what skills you have mastered or achievements you have earned that show you are technically qualified for the job.  Carefully reviewing the job description should also allow you to formulate appropriate questions of the interviewer, which might provide deeper insight about the role and its challenges.  This information will, in turn, allow you an opportunity to address how your unique skills and experiences are “transferable” to these additional challenges.
4. Ask Your Recruiting Consultant. If you are lucky enough to be represented by a quality recruiting consultant, chances are you are not the first candidate interviewing with the panel.  Your recruiting consultant may have received feedback from other candidates who have interviewed with the very same individuals that you are scheduled to meet with and know the type of questions being asked and what these individuals generally deem “important.”  
5.  Ask the Interviewer. Let’s assume you’ve done your pre-interview preparation.  You’ve discovered what you can.  Much of the rest of what you should know about the opportunity will likely be available to you during the interview process.  You need only ask the right questions.  Here are some simple questions that yield deep insights into the role while also giving you a great opportunity to underscore your value as a candidate:   

  • What characteristics must I possess to be successful in this role?  The answer to this question provides an opportunity to showcase, through your use of concrete examples from your professional past, how those very characteristics were used to solve important problems, and that you have a “track record” of successfully employing those traits. 

  • What are the most critical responsibilities of this role?  Similarly, the answer to this question will further allow you to showcase your unique experience in a manner most relevant to the job itself.  While all job responsibilities are important, job descriptions can sometimes be four of five pages long and it is important to focus your time with the interviewer on what’s most important, addressing other points as time allows.  Invariably, there will only be a handful of truly critical responsibilities from your supervisor’s point of view.  Your job is to determine what they are and focus the discussion on those.  For example, you might ask, “I have reviewed the job description in detail, and understand the general responsibilities of the role – but what would you say are the most ‘critical’ responsibilities of this role?  What is most important to you?”

  • What will be my biggest short term and long term challenge in this role?  This question says to the interviewer that you are interested in understanding what it would take to be successful in the role and respects the employer’s need to get the “right person” for the job.  The interviewer’s answer to this question will, again, likely provide you an opportunity to show how your skills and experience have been employed in the past to address comparable challenges.

Careful and diligent interview preparation will not only foster valuable insight into the role, but will result in increased confidence and a relaxed and attentive demeanor.  Additionally, you will benefit from an enhanced ability to communicate a strong link between your professional experience (i.e., what you’ve done) and the role’s critical functions (i.e., what you will be doing if hired).  Fail to prepare and you will be leaving it to chance.  Bad move.

Tags: Candidate

6 Common Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Robert Accomando on Sun, Jun 10, 2012 @ 10:59 PM

Let’s be frank, the list of how to do something “wrong” is endless -- so let’s not go there.  Instead, let’s look at some common interview mistakes and focus there.  These six come up for a lot of candidates – don’t let them happen to you.

1. Lighten Up!   Being nervous before an interview is common.  However, successful candidates are often those who have learned how to channel that “nervous” energy into “excitement” and interview preparation. When the mind is relaxed (yet alert), it is better able to accurately assess and respond appropriately to circumstances and, in turn, take advantage of opportunities to “shine” that might otherwise be missed.   Our advice?  Do what many elite athletes and business people do:

  • prepare in advance
  • practice controlled breathing and
  • mentally visualize yourself successfully managing the task (i.e., effectively handling the interview with professional grace and personal style)

If it isn’t “too silly” an exercise for Olympic athletes and Fortune 500 executives, it isn’t “too silly” for you.

2. Avoid Off-Color Comments.  Regardless of how comfortable you are with your interviewer, never use profanity, off-color humor, insensitive remarks, or express any political, religious or potentially “controversial” view or preference at any time during an interview (even if the interviewer does!).  This is a fairly common error made by well-intentioned candidates who mistakenly let their guard down in an attempt to “bond” with the interviewer often as a result of the interviewer’s own informality during the meeting.  In the unlikely event a potentially controversial topic arises during the interview, carefully steer the conversation back to the subject of the interview (i.e., “That is certainly a topic that is getting attention these days.  Before I forget, I wanted to ask you some more questions about the training we were discussing earlier…”).

3. Avoid Personal Quirks.  If body language gaffs and "interview faux pas" weren't so common - even with the most-high level candidates - this section would almost seem too obvious to review and frankly, a bit comical.  But for those otherwise great candidates who got passed over and just couldn't understand why, it wasn't obvious enough probably because they weren't even consciously aware of their own actions.  Our advice?  From the moment you leave your car in the parking lot to the moment you get back into it at the end of the interview, NEVER do the following:  

  • roll your eyes at anyone (even the parking lot attendant)
  • exhale in a frustrated manner (i.e., "huff")
  • check your wrist watch
  • answer your cell phone (and be sure it's turned off!)
  • check your blackberry, Iphone, etc., or voice mail
  • twirl or otherwise "futz" with any part of your hair, clothing, accessories or jewelry
  • chew gum / eat candy
  • apply makeup, lip balm or open a makeup compact, or
  • repeatedly scratch, pick-at or rub any part of your face or body.

These gaffs, and many more just like them, are all the little things people do when they are nervous or are trying to act like they aren't nervous, or are trying to act like they are "important."  Don’t do it.

4. Don’t “Badmouth.”   Badmouthing past employers or coworkers, no matter what the facts are, make you appear unappreciative, self-absorbed and potentially subversive to the prospective employer’s efforts.  If you are not happy with your current employer (or a past employer), you can express that by saying that you feel you are at a professional “standstill” and are looking to make a new home with where you feel you can thrive professionally.  Be prepared to answer follow-ups, like, “what about that job made you feel you were at a standstill? or “what is it about a particular opportunity that would allow you to “thrive” professionally?  The bottom line is -- a good interviewer will be careful to ferret out a potential problem employee from a “star” candidate who is going to help them move forward.  Your objective to express appreciation for prior roles, while showing an inherent desire for professional improvement and growth.

5. Don’t be “All About The Money.”  Money and convenience are almost always factors in candidate’s decisions, but the moment an employer senses that you are primarily motivated by such factors, you will likely lose the opportunity.  The reasons are simple:  employers generally view such candidates as 1) more easily drawn away for more money and easier commutes, and 2) not truly professionally committed to the employer’s important challenges.  Don’t make the mistake.

6. Not Your Job?  Really?  Nobody wants to hire a candidate who thinks herself “above the team,” or more importantly, above the effort at-hand.  Employers want team players who have the humility to roll-up their sleeves when need be and get the job done, and they are going to judge whether you are likely to be that type of employee, in part, based on how you talk about your most menial of roles.

Tags: Candidate