Strategies to Decrease New Hire Turnover in Long-Term Care

In a recent discussion, an Administrator asked about hiring and the rapid turnover often seen in long-term care.  Some suggested it was normal, just part of the business and nothing could be done.  I say not so!

Selecting staff is a process that requires careful attention and a consistent plan.

If you are simply filling staffing holes with “warm bodies,” please understand this will cost you far more down the road. Existing, dedicated staff are tired of working with and mentoring new employees who don’t care—and who loyal staff know will not last. In addition, the financial cost is very high.

Successful staff selection is an intentional, and systematic process.  Many mechanisms exist to eliminate the rapid turnover all too often seen in assisted living and long-term care.  We created a process that decreased new employee turnover.

While there are many components to this system, here are just a few elements briefly described but proven to work when used as part of a process.

  • Encourage applicants to fill out the application in an area that can be observed by someone on your staff, perhaps the receptionist. Train the observer to note the candidate’s actions, behaviors, personality, interactions.
  • Carefully screen and review the application. If the potential employee has been employed by many facilities in the past year or two, it is unlikely they will be staying with you very long.
  • A department director, human resources, or administrator should take the time to at least greet the applicant, introduce themselves and express appreciation for applying.  First impressions are not exclusive to the applicant; the facility should also be warm and welcoming.
  • Whether you interview a prospective employee immediately or schedule an interview at a later date, the interview process is integral to successful staff selection.  The facility interview should follow a consistent and well thought-out system.
  • A consistent list of questions and topics for discussion will ensure all candidates are treated equally. Interview questions will vary for each facility and for each position.
  • We suggest having more than one person interview the candidates.
  • Escort the potential employee on a tour through the entire facility, allowing them to see and experience the various work areas. Potential employee actions during the tour speak volumes about them as a person and their future performance.
  • Continuously evaluate your hiring process, using data to implement and evaluate changes in the process.

In an ideal world, selecting new employees should be a multiple step process.  Ask the applicant to consider the vision, job expectations, and environment. Placing the responsibility on the applicant is another method to validate that the applicant is serious, and that both the applicant and facility are making the right decision.

While turnover does not have a specific line item in most P & L’s, the average turnover in a community housing 100-200 residents can cost in the neighborhood of a million dollars per year!

Of course, you have to want to change and it takes commitment on the part of the organization and leadership team.  Want to change the hiring process and turnover outcomes in your community?  We will gladly show you how and you can share the savings with us!


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