Guest Columns

How to make employee communication meaningful

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Kelly Hawkins
Kelly Hawkins

Historically, September through to Thanksgiving is the most active time of year for recruitment activities. Are you ready to take advantage of this increase flow of candidate activity? This is two-fold for hiring managers. 

First the positive news. It should be easier to find active job seekers for your open positions. Second, you must be proactive and step up your retention efforts so it is not your current staff becoming active job seekers or being open to recruitment calls coming in for them.

As a leader and manager, your No.1 responsibility is to create and foster the best possible team of clinicians and support staff that you possibly can. Chances are you are juggling many responsibilities needing to keep multiple balls in the air. The danger of taking your eye off this particular ball is that when this one hits the floor so does the quality of your care. Your team IS your care. Start here and the rest will follow.  I know you are way too busy; and I have one word: Delegate!

Delegation is an amazing tool; it can provide you with several solutions in one. By identifying, inviting and then mentoring the right person for each function on your team you can add a new focus to staff satisfaction.

The seven key components to a robust talent pipeline and turn over rates that equal quality of care:

1.     Communication

2.     A satisfied and loyal current team (a satisfied staff is your best advertisement, so spend your recruitment dollars on them, not a newspaper ad)

3.     Networking and using the tools and information that is already in your building.  (this is easier than you think) 

4.     A warm and real first impression

5.     A consistent, legal and respectful interview process

6.     A quality orientation

7.     Career development for each individual

Let's tackle the first area of communication. Communicate with your team on a group and individual level. Keep them informed of goals and progress. When you include them they will feel valued (the first step in building loyalty) and they will be invested in the outcomes. Make your communications consistent and relevant to their world.

Select a Communications Officer. Choose a staff member who is currently part of morning meeting, this way they are already part of the first level of information. Invite them personally to take on the role; an honor coming from the administrator and a way to further develop that employee in their career.  See the duel benefits in this?

The Communications Officer should establish a “Hub for Sharing” information.  (A bulletin board in the lunch room is best) They would then invite others to help in maintaining the area such as someone with a flare for decorating to keep the board from fading into obscurity.  Divide the board so a quarter is for for employees to use.  They can share birth announcements, post items for sale, coupon exchange, etc. 

Items to include in your regular communications:

·       Goals being pursued; census, call bell stats, Advancing Excellence targets, fund-raising, 5-Star Status

·       Open Positions; referral bonus, advertisements running, new hire welcomes, retirements

·       Any announcements; sign up for soft ball, pizza party, special events

·       Employee of the Month, new grads, recognition

If someone does not have the information they need, they will make assumptions, which can be negative.  If the information they need is coming from you, this will ensure it is accurate and delivered in a positive way. 

This is the most important responsibility you have. You affect the quality of your care by creating the team that actually provides the care. Fall is right around the corner, ramp up now and by the holidays you will be well on your way to new behaviors and outcomes. 

Kelly Hawkins is the vice president of communications at Post Acute Consulting.
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Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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