At Straightaway, we strive to stay true to our mission – to prevent staff shortages in high demand healthcare support jobs.
To do this, we need to collaborate closely with innovative SNF providers, so on Thursday, April 13, we gathered the members of our National Advisory Board for the first time. The city: Chicago – home of deep dish pizza and outstanding improv. The kick-off location: The Ritz Carlton – an international symbol of excellence in customer service. We sought inspiration by getting out of the conference room and visiting unconventional places. Here are some key insights our group took away from those visits:
You need your sneezers!
We kicked off Day One by heading down Michigan Avenue on the Magnificent Mile, a shopper’s paradise. Jim Niecamp, our inspirational host pointed out Nordstrom – he said if we could approach running a healthcare facility like Nordstrom ran its first store in Chicago, we would be one step closer to success.
Our group was puzzled. How could a department store teach us a lesson on CNA training and combatting turnover? The answer: Sneezers. Sneezers are people who will actively promote your business to others. Nordstrom came late to the Chicago market and knew they were behind the curve compared to more iconic Chicago department stores. How did they catch up? They enlisted the Windy City’s cab drivers as their sneezers via a series of private open house events just for cab drivers. The impact? Nordstrom turned the city cabbies into enthusiastic supporters – if you hailed a cab shopping downtown, you could expect your driver to say, “You went shopping on the Magnificent Mile? But where is your Nordstrom bag?”
So who better to promote a healthcare facility than the people closest to your residents: CNAs!
If our CNAs feel like they are valued and important, they become powerful ambassadors of our residents, their families, and other prospective employees. We need to turn our CNAs into sneezers.
Give the lady what she wants!
Second stop: Marshall Field’s iconic department store. By this point, nobody doubted that there was a lesson to be learned from each stop on the itinerary. Marshall Field’s was the first to allow full refunds for its products, no questions asked, as well as many other previously unheard of policies to accommodate their customers. Field’s mantra to his team was always, “give the lady what she wants!”
If we give our CNAs what they want — to feel well-trained, valued, supported, and set up for success — they will feel great about our facility. They will tell their friends it’s a great place to work and families that it’s a great place to stay.
Customer intimacy: The Chicken Pot Pie
But Fields didn’t stop there. One day, having bought into the philosophy, a Fields’ hat department clerk shared her lunch with a hungry customer: her homemade chicken pot pie. Delighted by this delicious lunch, the customer shared the story with her friend, the mayor’s wife. Soon the clerk was serving homemade chicken pot pies to numerous customers. Did Marshall Fields scold her for going outside the rules? Hardly – the clerk was simply doing her job by giving the ladies what they wanted. As a result, Marshall Fields gave the clerk her own restaurant inside the department store – the first of its kind!
CNAs are healthcare’s hat department clerks — they are closest to the residents and they know what they and their families want.
Differentiate or die
At our next stop, the world-renowned Fields Museum, we found ourselves watching a video about the Bird-of-paradise mating dance. The male bird has to be very creative in order to stand out from the crowd and win over a mating partner. Consequently, he forms a large disc with his feathers and begins to dance. He tries to outplay his competition by being different.
In long-term care, like in nature, outstanding creativity wins. We need to be creative in order to obtain the best talent and provide an environment that they may thrive in.
Next Up: A spectacular dolphin show at the renowned Shedd Aquarium. What do dolphins and humans have in common? We all share an affection for appreciation. At the Shedd Aquarium all animals are trained using positive reinforcement only. This leads to a phenomenal outcome: the animals outperform. A simple lesson is to be learned here: if one is taught to perform a task solely to avoid punishment, they will perform that task, but likely not more. If one is taught to perform a task and to anticipate a reward, they try to outperform to the best of their abilities. And although people are quite clearly a step or two above dolphins, the same psychological principle can be applied to our CNAs.
In our facilities, we need to show appreciation for our employees’ work. If we recognize the little things our employees do right, not just when they fall short, we can unlock their full potential.
Treat your suite-people well
Our last destination was Soldier Field. After a brief tour, our group entered the most exclusive section of the stadium – the suites. While suites account for less than 10% of the 60,000+ seats in the stadium, they account for over 50% of revenue. This means that if management at Soldier Field can win the loyalty of the 6,000 “suite people,” it can generate more than 50% of their total ticket sales. And the processes that work to make the “suite people” happy will “trickle down” and benefit everyone else, too.
If we design great processes around our CNAs, everyone in our healthcare facility will benefit.
Back to business
How do we tackle CNA turnover? How do we ensure that the pipeline of CNA applicants is constantly filled? How do we make sure that the right people apply? How can we best support organizations to get CNAs past the critical 90-day-in-employment mark?
These were some of the questions that the passionate group of Straightaway employees and the National Advisory Board tackled together on day two. In lively brainstorming sessions, we combined our efforts with one common goal: to solve the CNA turnover problem and in the process make Straightaway’s CNA Edge even better.
Our ideas around training and performance kept coming back to a key idea – The Power of Story. Want to learn more? Stay tuned!