Your office staff can make or break your company. Here’s how to make sure you’re hiring the right people.
Let’s face it: there’s not much that makes or breaks your business like having the right people on your staff. There are no shortcuts to getting the right people, and we’re not promising any shortcuts; it’s about putting in the work to get hiring right the first time so you’re not dealing with any of the fallout from a bad hire.
What Happens When You Hire the Wrong Person?
Hiring the wrong person—which may even include hiring someone who’s good at their job, but doesn’t work well with the rest of your team—can impact every part of your business. Some of the ways that a poor hire can impact your agency include:
Loss of client loyalty—and loss of clients. Sometimes, it only takes one bad experience with a staff member to change a client’s perception of your agency. When it comes to keeping clients happy, it’s important to ensure a consistent, quality experience.
Higher caregiver turnover. Your admin team will shape a large part of your caregivers’ experience. If they don’t feel support from your staff, if it’s hard to get a hold of your office, or if they feel like they’re treated unfairly by management, they’re far more likely to leave your agency. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of good office staff in keeping caregiver turnover at a manageable rate.
Loss of profits. When it comes down to it, mistakes made in a business affect profits, whether indirectly or directly. There are dozens of ways a poor hire could lower your profits—from requiring extra time from other team members to being able to charge less because services aren’t perceived to be as high-quality. Whatever the case, it’s best to get it right the first time.
What Happens When You Hire the Right Person?
As with hiring the wrong person, hiring the right person brings a plethora of benefits both direct and indirect. Beyond excelling in their day-to-day role and delivering the opposite of the problems above, the right person can bring:
New ideas and solutions to problems that you hadn’t considered. Someone who’s invested in your company is likely to come up with unique ways to address problems that haven’t been considered before. No matter how intelligent or experienced the rest of the team is, it always helps to introduce another brain to the mix if that person is competent and committed to the company.
A feeling of stability to the company. It’s hard to put a price tag on the good things that happen when your employees approve of the way things are being done in the company and feel that their needs are being met by management. Having the right staff members is (potentially) the most important factor to achieving this.
Peace of mind to the owner and other management. Whatever role the new hire is in, somebody who performs their duties with competence, integrity, and care will enable you to sleep a little better at night knowing that part of the business is in good hands.
So, what you do to ensure that you hire the right person to fill each seat on your team? Here are a few critical ideas to get you started.
Narrow Down Your Qualifications to the Most Important Ones
There’s a simple reason: the more concise your list of qualifications, the easier it is to tell who fits them. Additionally, this will keep you from looking for unnecessary qualifications that would screen out good candidates.
One way to do this is to narrow down your qualifications to the things that couldn’t be taught within the first few weeks on the job. For instance, while it might be a bonus to find someone who’s already proficient in your scheduling software, many applicants could be trained in its use relatively quickly—and requiring it in the job description could turn off a lot of great applicants from applying.
In the end, your vision of the person you want to hire might look something like this:
X amount of technical experience (will depend on the capacity of your other team members to train them as well as potential legal requirements depending on their role)
Strong people skills, with the ability to remain positive and cheerful under stress
Strong organizational skills—an organized approach to work and life
Good time management skills—able to stay on task and perform under pressure
Someone who lives your company’s core values
Retain and train more caregivers with a caregiver mentor program.
Don’t settle for a poor hire because you’re in a hurry
If the bullet points above sound like no-brainers, it’s because they are; however, it’s still surprising how often home care agency owners—and other business owners—settle for a poor hire for the sake of time.
While it’s true that a vacant role can leave you in a tough spot, it’s always better to do what it takes to hire the right person, rather than rush to fill the seat with someone who could cause you headaches for months.
When it comes to hiring someone you don’t have confidence in because you’re in a hurry, take some advice from Nike (with a little bit of a spin): Just don’t do it.
Have an incentive-based compensation plan for them—and advertise it!
We’ve discussed in past articles how your office staff should all be incentivized based on quantifiable performance metrics. Even if it’s something small (like buying free lunch for your staff after a certain amount of days with no caregiver no-shows), it’s a good idea to mention that you have this type of incentive in your posting.
There’s a simple reason why this is effective: advertising extra benefits for those who perform well attracts go-getters to your job posting. The greater your reward for those who go above and beyond, the more you’ll draw them to your company.
Have your other staff members help interview new team members
At Home Care Pulse, anytime we hire someone on to our admin team, we always invite them to a team interview with multiple members of the team they’ll be working on. While this is a fairly common practice in larger companies, very few small businesses have adopted it.
All too often, someone is a great technical fit (meaning they’re capable of doing the job well), but a poor culture fit (meaning they don’t work well with the rest of your team).
While it’s natural for people to butt heads occasionally, at the end of the day you need someone who fits in with your team so that they can all work more effectively. This becomes exponentially more important if they’re in a management position.
Inviting other members of your team to join in the interview will not only help you get more perspectives of the person; it’ll give you insight into how well they’ll work together. You may even consider having them meet your team in a more casual setting, like a lunch.
Pay more—and have confidence that the money will come back to you in other ways
We’ve talked about this a lot lately. Pay your staff more than most competing businesses, and you’ll attract some of the best people.
Is this easier said than done? Of course. Margins are thin and money doesn’t grow on trees. However, it’s important to recognize that a little more money spent on attracting and keeping the right staff will come back to you as your business grows more quickly, clients and caregivers stay with your agency longer, and work gets done more efficiently.
For a look at what other agencies in the industry are paying their staff, check out this article.
How to Recruit and Retain Caregivers When You’ve Already Tried Everything
Recognize the Difference Between the Perfect Candidate and the Right Candidate
At the end of the day, you’re probably not going to find a candidate with world-class people skills and a PhD in home care management who also has the organizational skills of a walking Excel spreadsheet. (Let’s face it; there are a couple things wrong with this.)
It is, however, important to find someone who will be a high performer, who will be committed to your company, who cares about people, and will put the effort in to learning what they need to succeed on the job.
To get in terms of the right candidate versus the perfect candidate, understand where there’s room for growth in the role you’re hiring for and learn to evaluate candidates based on their growth potential. Think of questions like:
How well do they work with your team?
How committed are they to learning things they don’t know yet?
Do they want to do the job well?
Are they willing to take criticism well?
At the end of the day, a staff made of the right people will move your business forward in a way that almost nothing else will.
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