It’s hard to overstate the value of a solid hiring process.
Industry watchers say the high turnover rate in senior living tracks directly back to the hiring process, especially those early days in which a new worker gets familiar with the senior living environment.
Those who fail to click with the culture tend to jump ship. Leading global recruitment firm Robert Half reports 75 percent of executives say they have lost a staff member because of “cultural fit.” People quit when the job isn’t what they thought it would be.
This holds especially true in senior living. This isn’t like any other job you will ever have. It straddles the line between hospitality and health care but doesn’t fit squarely in either: It’s not Starbucks and it’s not Hilton. So, it can be challenging to onboard workers who have no senior living experience—to immerse them in the unique challenges and joys of this work.
Do it right, though, and the rewards can be substantial.
- Interview for Culture:
Craft interview questions that hone in on the organization’s vision, mission, and value statements. If you value enthusiasm, or creativity, or compassion, draw up interview questions that explore these traits.
- listen for Cues:
Open ended questions sometime will give insight into a candidate’s likely fit. “Where’s the worst place you have ever worked?” If the answer sounds a lot like your community, you may be headed for a cultural disconnect.
- Let Them go First:
Don’t tell them about your company culture right away. Have a clear sense of your organization’s culture and values. then listen for those things in the interview process.
- Rule of Three:
Have at least three people involved in the hiring process. Different people will see and hear different things. Multiple perspectives give clearer insight.
For almost any new hire, the conversation about what we are begins with a primer on what we are not. People come to the front door with preconceptions. Certainly there are medical concerns in any senior living community, but new hires need to understand that this is just a small part of the job. Executives in the field say they strive to strike an honest balance, to talk about some of those physical constraints while also highlighting the bigger goals and intentions of senior living.
“It’s about how we relate to residents. Maybe they don’t understand that as a server, you need to be patient, you want to be slower, you want to help them come to the realization of what they want to eat that day. If you don’t know that person’s preferences you need to take the time to work through that. That’s not something a typical server would need to know,” said Natalie Suits, director of organizational development at Hearth Management.
Cultural indoctrination starts before you ever advertise a job opening. Want people to understand and appreciate your unique work environment? Use social media to paint a picture.
“That’s where people go to look for jobs. When people go there, they need to hear you telling your story,” said Woodka. “A lot of people think of this industry as being all about sick old people. So, you want to put other kinds of images on social media: People dancing, playing cards. That’s how you shape people’s understanding of the industry.”
This article contains an excerpt from Argentum