How "embeddeded" are your workers?

Jan Wilson, M. Ed., SPHR
Jan Wilson, M. Ed., SPHR
We all wish we could keep turnover to an absolute minimum.  It costs LTC organizations millions of dollars a year in sourcing, training and on-boarding costs. Costs are higher by far than simply the salary of the outgoing staff member. It costs our clients angst when they come to rely on a nurse or caregiver.  Families are concerned when staff turn over as well.

We, as an industry, are really no different than most other industries in that we feel the need to focus on perceived high value, high salaried positions when we implement systems that target turnover for our companies. 

The average caregiver, while not acknowledged as such, has been seen in years past as a “throw away” worker.  The perception is that they will turn over no matter what you do, so focus on “professionals”.

Holtom, Mitchell and Lee's work Increasing Human and Social Capital By Applying Job Embeddedness Theory, was one of the first attempts to turn that thinking on its head. This work showed clearly that efforts to retain staff using a social capital model worked just as well with line staff as it did the higher priced professionals.

In a nut shell, job embeddedness is a concept that looks at job satisfaction and job alternatives. Job embeddedness can be likened to a web we build when we come into a new job setting. Each role, responsibility and relationship we build in this new setting adds to our web. The more “strings” we develop, the more likely we are to be satisfied and weather the “shocks” that come our way. “Shocks” can be defined as any event that leads to the decision to leave. These shocks can be found on-the job (a fight with a co-worker) or off the job (unsolicited job offer). 

So how we on-board new staff and how they are trained are critical to their opinions of whether they are an organizational “fit” for the job and the organization. New associates are like sponges that soak up our working environment – good or bad. 

Here are some ideas for improving organizational “fit” and increasing the “job embeddedness” of new staff:

  • Provide extensive information to recruits about career opportunities within the organization
  • Use realistic job previews
  • Select employees whose values fit with the organizational values
  • Provide socialization opportunities to newcomers that allow them to meet and get to know other employees, especially group or team members
  • Encourage employee input into decisions that directly affect them
  • Provide training and development opportunities that help employees meet their long-term career goals
  • Analyze how many “touches” your staff receive in the on-boarding process, and make sure your orientation programs include content on the culture and vision of your senior leadership team

Looking at your staff with a job embeddedness “lens” can help you analyze and improve your staffing.

Jan Wilson, M. Ed., SPHR is the vice president of learning design and outcomes for Redilearning, Inc.

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