If you are in a small facility, or even part of a larger company, it may seem as if professional development and training are at the bottom of the priority list. For all the senior living vendors helping streamline recruitment and automating the onboarding process, it can be harder to put in place strategies to help your employees grow.

That’s why I think it’s worth checking out Google’s blog, “re: Work,” which shares tools and documents used by Google managers, all for free. Google being Google, many of the insights are based on years analyzing reviews and “and other observable data at the company to determine essential leadership traits,” writes Quartz Media.

To start, I was fascinated at how employees are asked 13 questions about their managers on a semi-annual basis. At many companies, healthcare or otherwise, managers conduct large-scale reviews once a year, which may or may not be a time in which employees bring up larger concerns. By asking these questions (and Google will let you customize them) anonymously, you can hear feedback as an administrator. Employees answer based on a 1-5 scale.

For example, let’s take one question: “The actions of my manager show that he/she values the perspective I bring to the team, even if it is different from his/her own.” We know disrespect is a huge issue among clinical staff in long-term care, whether it’s nurses feeling they are never heard by administrators, or aides being figuratively slapped down if they offer a different perspective. Given the challenges the industry faces, I’m not sure there’s ever been a more important time to be able to hear different sides or ideas, especially from a more diverse set of voices than those in the C-suite.  

Responses are aggregated — again, anonymously — so that managers can take to heart any poor ratings without fear of retaliation.

Now, let’s turn to burnout. As much pressure as everyone is under, especially with Phase 2 requirements looming, it’s critically important to not lose your best employees. One positive way Google has worked on this is its “One Simple Thing” worksheet. Employees come up with their own goals, which should not be work-related. They are encouraged to share these with their coworkers, friends and family. Most importantly, there needs to be a time-frame.

For example, “This quarter I will leave work at 5:30 p.m. three days a week so that I can take a Spanish class” or “I will take a four-day vacation next month in which I do not check email.”

I know this one can be hard. When you’re the boss it may seem as if you’re always burning the candle at both ends. But stop subtly encouraging people to check email 24/7, miss meals with their families and never use their vacation time.

Plus, it’s just as important for you to set these work-life balance goals. Every season will be different — obviously you might not plan a three-week long dream vacation before a scheduled surveyor visit. But by committing to these goals and supporting your employees, you are creating a positive place to work that will end up benefitting your residents and attracting talent.

Finally, when it comes to career goals, Google and others use the GROW model. This focuses on employees’ aspirations, beliefs, possibilities open to them and the actions they want to take. In other words, the Goal, the Reality, the Options and the Will.

It’s asking the questions of “What Do You Want?”, “What’s Happening Now?”, “What Could You Do?” and “What Will You Do?”

If this sounds too vague, break it down into working through a scenario with your therapists or nurses. By asking them to think about where they want to be in the next few years, identifying what’s challenging them or holding them back, exploring opportunities to stretch and then asking about a time frame to achieve that goal, you are setting both expectations and a long-term vision. Too often, nursing home employees (among others) are so focused on the thunderstorm of email or crisis they lose sight of where they want to go professionally.

Even if all of this seems like too much, remember that it’s all free. At the very least, bookmark re: Work and return when time allows. Your employees will thank you.

Follow Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman @TigerELN.