Greetings from Long Beach and The 2019 OPEN MINDS Management Best Practices Institute! In today’s session, Best Practices In Workforce Development: Recruiting & Retaining Staff, I heard first-hand from two senior executives, Kiara Kuenzler, Psy.D., LP, President & Chief Executive Officer, Jefferson Center for Mental Health and James Carlino, SPHR, CCP, SHRM-SCP, CHHR, Chief Human Resources Officer, Bancroft, about the challenges to workforce management and the strategies for success in improving staff retention.
The talent issue is a critical one for most health and human service organizations. By 2025, there will a shortage of an estimated 250,000 behavioral health professionals (see Workforce Shortages As A Strategy Issue).
So how to compete for and keep that talent? in the session, I learned about five specific strategies organizations can take to improve recruiting and retention including involving all staff in the strategic planning process, supervision and development discussions, leadership development programs, virtual town halls, and small recognition programs.
Involvement in the strategic planning process – During their last strategic planning process, Jefferson Center for Mental Health involved sll of their staff in the process, particularly during the strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis. Dr. Kuenzler explained that staff were able to shine lights on problems and strengths that executives sometimes don’t have the knowledge to identify. Staff at all levels were also invited to sit on and part of different strategic planning committees. This helps to engage staff and make them feel like they are part of the organization.
Supervision and development discussions – Mr. Carlino emphasized that their organization has moved away from annual performance reviews to supervision and development discussions. For exempt and per diem employees, these discussions happen every month. For hourly employees, they occur every other month. The discussions are designed to be developmental, not evaluative, and are in no way tied to compensation. The discussions are a chance to give and receive feedback, feedforward (future focused discussions), and professional development planning. The goal of these discussions is to recognize contributions, proactively address issues, strengthen relationships, and ultimately increase employee engagement.
Leadership development programs – Both organizations offer leadership development for their staff. The programs are designed to teach both hard skills (such as timesheet management) as well as soft skills (such as having a difficult conversation with coworkers). Mr. Carlino noted that when choosing a development program, it’s important to choose one that aligns with your organization’s values, but also addresses why people may be leaving the organization (data to determine why can be collected via survey). For middle managers especially there are a lot of challenges and these types of programs can help ease some of the daily pressure and help them lead more effectively.
Virtual town halls – Both organizations also offer virtual town halls. These sessions allow for communication of important organizational events and help to reiterate values. Its also an opportunity for employee questions to be answered and addressed. Ms. Kuenzler explained that they use real time polling to gauge how employees are feeling about certain issues. Polling is anonymous and allows for a pulse of the organization.
Small recognition programs – At Jefferson Mental Health Center, the organization offers a number of smaller programs that recognize employee achievements at work as well as outside of work. For example, the Thumbs Up Program instantaneously rewards staff with a $25 gift card to a place of their choosing for a job well done or going “above and beyond” their role. Staff can earn up to three of these rewards per year. Ms. Kuenzler also takes the time to sign a birthday card for every employee. She explained that this seemed silly and she wasn’t sure it made a difference, but has gotten a lot of positive feedback from staff. Additionally, the organization recognizes work anniversaries, the birth of a child, etc.
Mr. Carlino and Ms. Kuenzler noted that there are couple of things to consider when building your workforce development program. The first is that the programs you choose don’t have to cost a lot of money. Sometimes small benefits and flexibility in terms of time off can make a big difference without being expensive. Additionally, if you want to know what staff want, make sure you survey them and ask them what is most crucial for their retention. Armed with that data, you’ll be able to develop a much more effective program.
For more on talent management, check out these resource in the OPEN MINDS Circle Library:
- Are You A Change Agent Leader? Take The Test
- How To Create A Culture Of Customer Service
- Succeeding In A Value-Based Health & Human Service Landscape: Keys to Balancing Performance, Measurements, Talent & Capital
- Leadership—The Other Talent Shortage
- Recruit, Engage, Retain, Repeat—How To ‘Sell’ Your Organization In A Tight Labor Market
- What Should Your Approach Be To Retaining Great Team Members?
- Building A Better Workforce: Talent Management Strategies For Recruitment, Retention, Burnout & Technology
- Three Recruiting Best Practices For A Competitive Market — Advice From Executives Who Have Been There
- Technology As A Workforce Solution
- Recruiting? What Executive Competencies You Should Be Looking For
For even more join us at The 2019 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Retreat for the session Becoming An Employer Of Choice: How To Attract & Retain Talent featuring Art Williams, PMP, Senior Associate, OPEN MINDS and Stephen Christian-Michaels, MA, Chief Strategy Officer, Wesley Family Services.
And for more live coverage from Long Beach this week, tune in this week when we report on the The 2019 OPEN MINDS Management Best Practices Institute—be sure to check out our ongoing live and archived coverage of the event on Twitter @openmindscircle – #OMBestPractices.