Your office staff are the core of your organization and play a powerful role in determining its culture and success.
In home care, we can never lose sight of the people—clients, caregivers, and staff—at the heart of our work. With the challenges facing the home care industry, we need to double down on finding and keeping the right people in our organizations.
This month, I’m participating in a webinar hosted by myCNAjobs to help agencies improve their recruiting. This will be a roundtable-style webinar focused on recruiting in which Brandi Kurtyka of myCNAjobs, Leigh Davis of Davis+Delany Coaching, and myself will be discussing best practices and new strategies to stay competitive in hiring. You can register here to save your seat.
The webinar will be focused primarily on recruiting caregivers, and it will be worth your while. Today, however, I want to talk about what it takes to find and hire the best possible office staff.
Within the home care industry, it can be easy to underestimate the impact that your office staff have on your clients and caregivers.
For instance, according to the 2018 Home Care Benchmarking Study, the area in which agencies across the country score lowest is in communicating directly with their clients. Clients crave consistent communication from your office staff. This helps them feel in the loop and looked after in a way that supplements the care that your caregivers provide them.
More than this, your office staff are the core your home care agency and play a powerful role in determining its culture and success. It’s essential to find the right people who can connect with your clients, work efficiently as a team, and believe in the mission of your agency so that they can carry it to new heights.
Know Your Needs
The first step in hiring the right home care office staff is creating the right organizational structure. This helps ensure both that you have the right number of people and that you have the right roles and responsibilities organized to best address the needs of your agency.
Among filling any other needs your individual agency may have, your organizational chart should do the following:
Creating a structure will inform you of your agency’s needs and help you clearly understand what skills and experience to look for to round out your team. Too often, employers hire an employee who seems experienced and capable, only to realize later that they have the wrong skill set or personality for the team’s needs.
Even if you have an established and effective organization structure in place, you should still create a formal, written-out organizational chart and revisit it from time to time to make sure that you are intentional rather than reactive in filling spots on your admin team.
How to decide on the right people is always the golden question. When you break it down, there are really four categories of information you need to know who you should hire:
Personality and values.
How well will they get along with your team and represent the company? While skills can be learned and experience can be gained, there’s no substitute for someone who feels passionate about the mission of your company. At Home Care Pulse, we hire and fire based on our core values—service-minded, passionate, driven, problem solving, and continuous learning. Ensure that you have your core values and mission clearly defined and find individuals who buy in with them.
Do they know how to do the job? You can learn this from the experience on their resume, by talking to their references, and by giving them homework during the hiring process.
While qualifications address the question of what they know, performance is what they can really do. There are lots of individuals who may have the experience for a position, but you want someone who excels at it and pushes themselves to find better ways of doing it.
To evaluate this, you can dig into the “white space” of their resume. Ask them for details of the results they accomplished in the course of their work and how they achieved those results. This kind of detail is difficult to fake. If they have given outstanding performance at past jobs, it will show. When you contact their references, ask similar questions.
Finally, you should make sure you’re on the same page. What do they want out of this job and what do they plan to give?
Ensure that they understand not only the basics like pay and hours expected, but also where the company is headed moving forward and how do they fit into that. Is there room for advancement or taking on additional responsibilities? Is there a potential for having to work longer hours at some point due to growth or change of structure? Addressing these questions will help you feel more assured that you’ve hired someone who is in line with the needs of your company.
Seats on the Bus
When everything else is said and done, it’s important that you not only get the right people, but you get them in the right seats. This is an analogy originally used in Good to Great, a well-known book on business leadership by Jim Collins. He compares a company to a bus and talks about how the first step in success is getting the right people on the bus with you and into the right seats.
I’ve had firsthand experience with this principle. Early during my time as a home care agency owner, I realized that my office administrator and my caregiver supervisor might be in the wrong seats.
Both were extremely capable individuals, but over time I realized their talents were poorly matched with their assignments. My office administrator was an outgoing, warm person who loved interacting with the caregivers. However, her duties mostly kept her doing administrative tasks in the back office. Meanwhile, my caregiver supervisor possessed excellent organizational skills, but could sometimes be impatient or abrupt with caregivers.
Rather than hiring or firing anyone, we simply switched their roles. The impact was felt almost immediately, both within the office and in feedback we received from our caregivers. We’d had the right people all along, but we needed them in the right seats.
Having the right people, and in the right seats, will make or break your organization. To build the organization you want, you first need to build the right team. Do you have the right people on the bus with you?
It’s a great time to be in home care. Let’s improve lives together.
Founder & CEO
Home Care Pulse