Employee Retention: Crucial to Your Success
Truly talented people are rare — and likely to be in demand. They’re easy to engage, have high expectations of their work environment, and seek growth and development.
But they’re willing to look elsewhere — and they’re expensive to replace.
Employees that feel trusted, challenged, and rewarded tend to stick around. It’s that simple. But it doesn’t happen by chance, so make employee retention a key component of your business strategy.
Human Resources: Five Major Functions
To weave HR into your strategy, you need to consider its major functions. And you might be surprised just how much HR affects your business.
- Strategic planning is the natural time to think about HR matters like upcoming hiring needs or offsite training.
- Recruiting includes posting the job listing, interviewing, extending a job offer, and onboarding.
- Compensation and benefits include wages, raises, profit sharing, incentive plans, health insurance, retirement plans, and vacation time.
- Learning and development include the in-house plans or programs by which you train and develop your staff.
- Talent management includes reviews and appraisals, discipline for misconduct, and creating an engaging and rewarding workplace culture.
These five functions must be built on solid ground, though, and that’s where we’ll start.
Mission, Vision, and Core Values
These are the foundation of your practice. Engaged employees will have taken your mission, vision, and core values to heart.
This is your practice’s “why.” It communicates your purpose and direction to employees, patients, and the broader community. An example is, “Our mission is to help the community hear better. We keep people connected to loved ones through personalized care.”
This is your aspiration for your practice. It creates a mental image of the practice’s ideal achievement. It should inspire and challenge your employees. An example is, “Our vision is to be the most trusted hearing care resource in the area. We want the region to think of us when they think of better hearing.”
Core values remove bottlenecks by empowering your employees to apply the values to new challenges. It’s typical for an organization to have three to five, for example, “simplicity, compassion, teamwork, and respect.”
Define or streamline yours ASAP
If you can’t easily recite your practice’s mission, vision, and core values, you can’t expect your employees to, either — let alone align around them.
All three should be short, impactful, and memorable. Your mission and vision should be no more than two or three concise sentences. Similarly, core values should be familiar words — “respect” is much easier to remember and internalize than “consideration.”
Set SMART Goals
Now your goals are ready to be clearly defined — as it says in The Little Prince, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” A foolproof method for goal setting is to make them S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Your goal should be tangible and name the desired outcome. Example: “I want to hire an additional provider so I can take Fridays off for more long-weekend vacations with my family.”
Measurable goals allow you to track your progress and stay motivated. Example: “We will increase hearing aid sales by 4 (2 sets) a month, resulting in a revenue increase of 10%.”
Make the goal challenging but doable. Example: “Our current providers will get coaching from Professional Development Managers, resulting in a higher conversion rate and an increased effectiveness ratio from .98 to 1.2.”
The goal should be worthwhile, timely, and in alignment with other goals. Example: “By improving our effectiveness ratio to 1.2, we will see an increase in our hearing aids sales, which will allow our team to grow.”
This aspect keeps the goal top of mind and ensures it’s a practice priority. Example: “6-month time period to measure results.”
With S.M.A.R.T. goals defined, it’s time to turn to strategic planning. But you might be wondering just how much HR affects strategy.
If the practice is growing, you’ll need to consider whether — and when — to hire an additional employee. A big enough practice might need to draw up an organizational chart. And certain people or roles might benefit from offsite training or professional development.
Benefits of HR Strategic Planning
HR strategic planning gives you the framework to be proactive rather than reactive. With strong strategic planning, you:
- Have the tools you need when you need them.
- Avoid costly, disruptive surprises that impede goals.
- Address key issues in a timely manner to avoid crises.
- Keep employees focused on organizational goals.
- Provide a focus for training and development initiatives.
The HR strategic planning process
The strategic planning process is built around four critical questions.
- Where are we now?
- Where do we want to be?
- How do we get there?
- How will we know if we are on track toward our destination?
They might seem simple, but if you’re familiar with strategic planning, you know that the answers can sometimes be complex.
Compensation and Benefits
Wages aren’t a deal breaker
Estimates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, your market, working capital, and many other variables determine the wages you decide to offer.
But current and prospective employees aren’t going to view your practice negatively based solely on salary. An incentive plan can make a position look far more enticing, no matter the wage offered.
These plans can woo prospects, promote efficiency and productivity, and encourage employee engagement and retention. Some common types:
- Annual incentive plans are tied to a specific result identified at the beginning of the performance cycle.
- Discretionary bonus plans aren’t guaranteed and have no set formula. Management determines the size of the bonus pool and the allocations after a performance period.
- Profit-sharing plans allow employees to share in the organization’s profits. The plan normally includes a predetermined formula for allocating shares and distributing accumulated funds.
- Spot awards recognize special contributions as they occur for a project or task, generally accomplished in a short period.
- Retention bonuses are payments or rewards outside of regular salary offered as an incentive to keep a key person on the job during a particularly crucial business cycle.
The employee handbook
Before you write a new (or review an old) job description, review and update your employee handbook to include:
- Your mission statement, vision statement, and core values
- Practice policies
- What the company expects from its employees
- What employees can expect from the company
- Legal obligations as an employer and your employee rights
- Policies such as vacation time, sick days, and non-discrimination
The job posting
The job description should reflect anything a prospect might want to know. Address the company culture, benefits, and the usual:
- Job title
- Job purpose
- Job duties and responsibilities
- Required qualifications
- Preferred qualifications
- Working conditions
Place the open position in all the typical spots — college job boards, Indeed, etc. But don’t forget to post it on LinkedIn and Facebook as well. It’s a great opportunity to hype up the position and company in a more informal way.
Interviews are a two-way street. You, your team, and your interview process should be dialed in and professional. Know how many interviews are planned before a candidate will be chosen and whether finalists will shadow office personnel. You might even decide to have finalists go out to lunch with the team.
The offer letter
This is a chance to continue the conversation. Don’t simply email the offer — call them personally, then email it, so they have it in their hands and can discuss it with you.
The offer letter discussion is a chance to show you value their perspective. They get to ask questions and bring up misgivings, and you can explain why it’s a good fit. You can highlight the benefits so they see how the soft costs make it worthwhile.
Onboarding new hires
A poor onboarding experience reflects badly on your practice. Your new employee won’t feel like sticking around if the job duties and expectations aren’t clear. For a successful onboarding, ensure the following:
- A practice tour with introductions
- Clear expectations
- Step-by-step details
- Weekly follow-ups
- An assigned mentor
- Assessments along the way
- Incentive upon completion
The mentor isn’t a way to abdicate leadership responsibilities. Make sure you check in with new employees daily so they know you’re invested in their success.
Learning and Development
Developing your employees can take many forms, depending on the size of your practice and your proximity to industry events. Some take elbow grease and time, others money. But an employee who feels like you’re investing in their development will stick around.
This is a powerful way to develop and engage your employees. A captain oversees a practice priority, such as social media accounts, process improvement, or outreach. Through sharing successes and challenges, the captain develops a feeling of ownership and engagement.
Online training sessions and webinars
These are easy and affordable vehicles for learning and development for every role in your practice. To ensure opportunities don’t slip through your fingers, assign someone as a captain to seek out online trainings and bring them to your attention.
Peer coaching and cross-training
This is self-explanatory and builds team skills, rapport, and a broader sense of ownership.
Industry and community events
These are perfect vehicles for combining learning and team building, but costs can stack up if too many team members attend events. Be sure to include annual events in your strategic planning so the cost doesn’t take you by surprise midyear. If cost is a factor, consider sending select people who can, in turn, train your team.
Talent management is about communication — period. That’s why it’s crucial that you and your team develop an appreciation for your various communication styles with a communication assessment.
Assessment results usually include your communication style and an analysis of how you interact with the other styles. Commonly, you’re provided with insights such as how you respond to praise or pressure.
Armed with this information, you can hold trainings and team-buildings. Troubleshoot scenarios and role play with team members who have a different style. Everyone will develop the experience and tools to successfully interact in real-world situations — such as quickly assessing a patient’s communication style and adjusting accordingly.
The on-on-one meeting
The one-on-one meeting is key to managing your employees. It’s a simple, 30-minute, two-way chat every two weeks that serves several purposes.
- Find out about their current levels of morale and stress
- Track the status of their personal and professional goals
- Discuss specific issues — the employee’s, the supervisor’s, or both
- Provide value-added feedback and coaching
- Share formal and informal information about the practice
Do everything you can to avoid canceling or rescheduling one-on-ones — it shows your employees they have your ear and you have their back.
Document your one-on-ones by writing down the date of the next meeting, actions items for the next meeting, what’s needed to accomplish the action items, and how you can be of help.
These meetings do double duty. At the team level, they improve morale, build skill sets, and enhance job responsibilities. At the practice-wide level, they develop talent, improve productivity, foster innovation, and better facilitate process implementation.
Team meetings are a natural fit for reports from your captains. Discussing their wins gives them a sense of accomplishment, and the rest of the team gains an understanding of what’s happening throughout the practice.
Responding to conflict
When conflict arises, it’s easy to let ingrained habits take over. But if you and your team build a culture of remaining open, resourceful, and persistent in the face of conflict, tempers will rarely come to a boil.
- Openness is characterized by empathy, validation of others’ feelings, and disclosure of your own feelings
- Resourcefulness is characterized by gathering ideas and options, building on successes, and leveraging strengths
- Persistence is characterized by setting boundaries and commitments, reinforcing non-negotiables, and accepting responsibility
Eventually, an employee’s behavior will prompt a difficult conversation. If they become defensive, deflect, or feign ignorance, you need to be clear and firm — which brings us to discipline.
Document disciplinary conversation so you have a record. Without documentation, you can’t prove you clearly set expectations.
- Verbal warning
This first conversation is considered a verbal warning. You don’t have to use that wording — “Julie, you’re getting a verbal warning right now” — but jot a note down in your file that you discussed the issue. Email the employee with a recap of your conversation to make sure you’re on the same page moving forward.
- Written warning
If the problem persists, document the behavior, what needs to change, and what the consequences will be if improvement isn’t made. Meet with the employee and review the document. If the employee refuses to sign it, tell them you’re going to notate the refusal, but your expectations will not change.
- A potential final written warning
At some point, you might have to issue a final warning. Be very clear that further behavior of this sort will result in termination. This is handled just like the written warning, but the consequence indicated for further problems is termination.
Today’s job market makes health care professionals a hot commodity — are you putting in the effort to ensure yours is the go-to practice for team members and prospects? See how our HR experts can help you, your practice, and your team today!