Neil Hefta, Vice President of Govig Healthcare Group

As someone who has close to 20 years of long-term care recruitment experience and who has personally worked as a nursing home administrator, I understand how important culture is when making the right hire.

I had one long-term care organization describe its culture as “fast-paced, clinical quality-focused and results-oriented,” but they also said that outside of work they were more of a “beer and wings group.” They liked to work hard and play hard. I thought this was a vivid way to paint a picture of who they are as a company and how they approach each day.

Beer and wings isn’t going to be for everyone; maybe your group is more like “wine and cheese,” a different set of values in your workplace.

Successful culture is about having the right people, clear lines of communication, and an execution of your team’s plan with results.     

We all know that long-term care is a reactionary business with continuous changes in reimbursement models and regulatory requirements. I can certainly understand from speaking to industry leaders why it’s difficult to create a sustainable company culture.

I often ask the questions, “How would you describe your company culture?” and “Does the same culture exist within your buildings as your home office?” I often hear a long pause on the other end of the phone when I ask the culture questions.  

Is culture a petri dish where you are trying to get the right culture sample? Or maybe it’s more like the 1980s pop culture with Madonna and Billy Idol? Doubtful on either. In an industry that cares for the elderly, company culture has more to do with what you believe in and the values you have as an organization in providing the highest quality of care to its residents.

A better culture improves the experience of the employees and helps retain your best workers.  It also creates a more caring environment for the resident and their family members.

In advising candidates and employers on making a good career decision, I am always advocating for team chemistry, culture fit, and what their gut told them — did it feel right?

The first step in creating the right culture is matching the best candidates with your beliefs so you have the right people in place. Both the candidate and the employer will have the most success if all the members of the team are a good match for the company culture. This in turn will lead to the highest level of work satisfaction for all parties and will attract the best talent for the group.

Facility leaders need to create open lines of communication to get buy-in from everyone. Ideas like doing team huddles at the beginning and end of each shift ensure the communication is consistent and everyone is included in the decision-making process. Communication equates to better quality outcomes for residents because staff feel empowered and a part of the team.

The final piece of the culture puzzle is executing on what you say you will do. Words without actions can be more harmful than anything because employees don’t feel their needs are being taken seriously.

Bi-annual employee surveys are a great way to find out what your staff wants and can help maintain the culture you want, “beer and wings” or otherwise. The follow-up to these surveys regarding what actions you have done is critical. Make sure you announce the results of the surveys to all staff members and let them know what you have done and will be doing. This dialogue creates positive buy-in from the team and results in better quality for the residents.   

What is your company culture? Are you Beer and Wings or Wine and Cheese?

Neil Hefta, the vice president of Govig Healthcare Group, has been with Govig & Associates as an executive recruiter specializing in post-acute care since 1998. He focuses on listening to clients’ recruitment needs, presenting them with A-level talent nationwide, and overseeing a successful hiring process.