How to Build a Positive Organizational Culture

How to Build a Positive Organizational Culture

How to Build a Positive Organizational Culture

Lindsay Medlin
January 23, 2019
Establishing a robust and rewarding culture for employees is a huge challenge that many companies in long-term care face. We at Straightaway want you and your employees to thrive.

The culture of any organization has a huge impact on its workplace – no matter where that may be. For many companies, their cultures drive employee satisfaction and motivation. Thus it’s crucial for company’s to put some resources into your their work culture. Let’s focus in on what aspects to prioritize:

It starts at the top

Straightaway’s leaders set a great example for how our entire company operates. Mike Mutka, our CEO, has always stressed the importance of establishing a fun, collaborative, and trusting work environment – and the way we work today is a reflection of that!

Back in December, Mike and his colleague, Relias CEO, Jim Triandiflou, hosted a webinar where they spoke at length about corporate culture and how they worked to establish a high-functioning and supportive work environment for their employees at Relias.

In the webinar, Mike and Jim talk about how the creation of Relias was actually the merging of many companies and how important it was to get everyone on the same page when building the organization in this way. “Getting everybody [in the organization] rowing in the same direction was imperative because we knew that with all these different cultures and perspectives coming together, if we didn’t do [that], not only would we not succeed but we wouldn’t survive,” he said.

This approach clearly worked for Relias, which now boasts hundreds of employees worldwide!

Check it out the full webinar here.

Align the culture to the brand

It’s important for a company culture to be present in its brand – even if entirely indirectly. A great way to initiate the relationship between culture and brand is to evaluate the organization’s core values.

Core values, sometimes known as, foundation principles, or service values, are the fundamental principles by which an organization operates. Good ones should serve as a bridge between a company’s culture and its brand. Core values should establish a commitment to the company mission but also to its people. No matter what you call them, your core values should reflect the heart of your company’s goals, the people who work for you, and the people you serve. Zappos, an online retailer known for its fantastic customer service and loyal employee base, has exemplary core values:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More with Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

These core values are exemplary because they establish a clear understanding of what a Zappos employee looks like and they emphasize the utmost importance of Zappos relationships — employee to customer but also employee to employee.

Loop in your people

At the end of the day, your company culture and the environment your employees work in should be influenced by them! Ask your employees to be active members of their work environment by initiating some of these conversations with them:

  • Ask how they want to be rewarded
    • While any gesture of goodwill is appreciated, it’s usually nicer to receive something you actually want and can use. Give your folks a chance to tell you what that might be for them. This lets you catch a glimpse into their needs as an employee – and they get to truly feel appreciated!
  • Ask your employees how you could help make their jobs easier
    • We don’t necessarily mean ask your employees what you could take off their plate – instead ask what you could be doing to streamline their workflow.
  • Ask for feedback on key decisions that may affect the company
    • Where you find it appropriate, loop your employees into the conversation. There’s a good chance your employees are sitting on some excellent ideas that would contribute positively to an issue at hand. For example, our Marketing Team recently held a brainstorming session with the entire company to come up with a wacky and fun idea for our next mailing campaign. This was a fun exercise on a Friday afternoon that started a great conversation and got people energized!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

We know it’s hard! Establishing a robust and rewarding culture for employees is a huge challenge that many companies in long-term care face. We at Straightaway want you and your employees to thrive. Our comprehensive workforce management software includes tools to help you glean feedback from your employees in real time, assess the needs of your front-line staff and how your managers can make a positive impact.  Click here to learn more about our solution.

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They Aren’t Your Mother’s CNAs Any Longer, Pt. III

They Aren’t Your Mother’s CNAs Any Longer, Pt. III

They Aren’t Your Mother’s CNAs Any Longer, Pt. III
Straightaway Team
December 11, 2018
We will examine what millennials want when it comes to their personal development. What do they need to stay put? With unemployment at historic lows and tightening demographics around retiring boomers, this generation of employees has more choices than ever in where they choose to spend their working lives.

This is our final blog in a series of three that addresses what CNAs value at work. The first blog in this series addressed what CNAs look for in an organization: strong values, a clear career path, and skills investments. Our last blog covered what they are looking for in a supervisor: constructive peer management and overall flexibility.

In this segment, we will examine what millennials want when it comes to their personal development. What do they need to stay put? With unemployment at historic lows and tightening demographics around retiring boomers, (there aren’t as many millennials coming up as there are boomers retiring — yikes!), this generation of employees has more choices than ever in where they choose to spend their working lives.

EdAssist, an industry leader in talent management, reports that a whopping 59% of job seekers now report professional development as a determinant in their decision of where to work. That means that all things being equal, new hires will choose the company that provides them with the most development opportunities.

So what do CNAs want in the way of personal development? Let’s look at the five major things we can do to provide a workplace of choice for our CNAs:

  1. They want technical skills in their area of expertise. If you were with us for the last blog, you’ll remember that clear career path was a key driver for what CNAs want from an organization. Drill that down a bit, and we can see that millennials want to master the technical aspects of their job. They will want education programs that mirror the real world and will complain loudly if what they are taught does not match the job itself, so make sure you have alignment there. Sometimes it takes an outsider to look at your environment with a fresh set of eyes in order to see areas of improvement.
  2. They want self-management and personal productivity lessons. It’s crucial to remember they are young and new to the workforce. They acknowledge the need for guidance with professional skills and attributes. Many organizations offer these types of courses as electives for their millennial workforce to develop themselves.
  3. They want leadership. Millennials expect strong, transparent leaders that they can respect and learn from. Always make sure your proclaimed culture matches your culture-in-action. Remember, new employees have their radar up to validate whether or not they have made the correct decision to come into your organization. They can spot a mismatch on this from a mile away. It will impact them negatively, so make sure your line managers, nursing supervisors and peers all exhibit the culture you seek.
  4. They want industry and functional knowledge. We here at Straightaway call this the “Big Why.” Are you teaching with experiential context just the steps involved in the process of getting something accomplished? Context, or the Big Why, makes it easier for new hires to use their brain power to solve problems. If you never teach the why, your work staff won’t be able to make proper decisions.
  5. Lastly, they are looking to be a part of creative, innovative strategies. In our first blog, we wrote about how millennials want an organization that will help develop their skills for the future. Not only do millennials want a career progression, but they are all about innovation. If you want to change a process or include innovation in your delivery of services, put some millennials on the committee! Just think about it, they were actively involved in the adoption of Apple products, Instagram, Uber and all the other social media platforms and disruptive innovations we now take for granted. If you want to lose a CNA over time, don’t let them weigh in on any new products or services.

If your organization is looking for innovative ways to combat CNA turnover, let us help you examine the issue. There are a lot of areas you can examine that we’ve covered in this series. It isn’t that millennials are all that different from any other generation. It’s just that their world is much different from the world we grew up in. Their options are greater and their expectations are higher. A comprehensive look at culture, supervision, and development can go a long way to keep CNAs in their seats.

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They Aren’t Your Mother’s CNAs Any Longer, Pt. II

They Aren’t Your Mother’s CNAs Any Longer, Pt. II

They Aren’t Your Mother’s CNAs Any Longer, Pt. II
Straightaway Team
December 11, 2018
Welcome back! This is the second in our series on addressing what your CNAs value at work. Last time we covered what your CNAs look for in your organization and this time we will drill deeper and examine their thoughts on supervisors.

Welcome back! This is the second in our series on addressing what your CNAs value at work. Last time we covered what your CNAs look for in your organization and this time we will drill deeper and examine their thoughts on supervisors.

Major research shows that CNAs typically have poor relationships with their supervisors or have supervisors who show little interest in them. Culture makes a huge impact on your employees. It’s sometimes easy to forget this and to think that pay is the only driver. Surprisingly, hourly pay does not seem to influence turnover (Rosen et al., 2011) in the same way that their relationships with their bosses and peers does.

So, if these things are drivers of turnover — not pay — how can you keep your CNAs around? It’s time to you look deeper than the CNA role itself. Coming into these roles is a whole other animal, namely the millennial generation. most new CNAs are younger, digitally savvy and have expectations on us, their managers.

What do CNAs want from their managers? Let’s dive into five major things that you can do to be an asset to your workforce:

  1. They want a supervisor that will help them navigate their career path. If you were with us for the last blog, you’ll remember that a clear career path was a driver for what CNAs want from an organization. Drill that down a bit, and we see that their supervisor needs to be involved in this important aspect of their work lie. Once your organization can provide them a path, you must help your supervisors understand their important role in the process of developing your front-line staff. Supervisors should always be surveying their staff so that when folks are ready for the next step, they can be guided there. This requires understanding of what the “next step” means and what deliverables that supervisors and the organizations have to help employees reach their goals. Once supervisors are educated in how important career paths are and how to facilitate upward motion, they must be held accountable for CNA success. This may look like CNA and supervisor check-ins, metric analysis, and goal evaluations.
  2. They want supervisors that can give them straight feedback — good or bad. Feedback can be fraught with issues, given its multifaceted nature. In order for feedback to be effective and nurturing, it must be balanced and timely. New employees in particular need to know if and when they’ve missed the mark — but they should also be notified of what they’ve done correctly too! This is so important in your employees’ learning process. When folks here “you’re doing it wrong” they lose their motivation to keep learning and to perform well. They deserve to know what WHY what they did is wrong and WHAT they can do going forward to fix it. Balanced feedback is key — address mistakes, outline solutions, lead by example, and provide positive encouragement when applicable.
  3. They want to be mentored and coached. This goes along with feedback, but mentorship programs have proven very useful in helping CNAs feel supported at work. This doesn’t have to all fall on your supervisors either. Establish a peer mentor program where your newer CNAs can shadow star team members.
  4. They want supervisors who will sponsor them for formal development programs. We mentioned in the past blog how young CNAs expect organizations to guide their professional development. As a matter of fact, this is the number one driver when millennials choose their employer. All things considered, most millennials will choose organizations that provide better development resources. Supervisors are the keys to the kingdom in this regard. For millennials to be sponsored or recognized by their boss for a formal program can be better than a raise. Their self-esteem and development improves when you are a hands-on facilitator of their progress. Don’t limit it to formal programs, either! A kind word, handwritten note, or a bit of public recognition can go a long way.
  5. They are looking for supervisors that allow them to balance work life and home life. Life happens! Employers don’t always have the luxury of being flexible, but giving a little when possible makes a world of a difference in your employees’ lives.

These are some of the reasons many organizations come to us at Straightaway — they seek programs that help their nursing supervisors with these soft-skills of management. They are vitally important in keeping your workforce — particularly your younger folks — engaged. Let us help! Click here to learn more about CNA Edge.

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They Aren’t Your Mother’s CNAs Any Longer

They Aren’t Your Mother’s CNAs Any Longer

They Aren’t Your Mother’s CNAs Any Longer
Straightaway Team
December 11, 2018
We are often confronted with the idea that CNAs are just in it for themselves. They leave at the drop of the hat. They aren't ready to do the work. The general tone we keep hearing is that the CNAs are somehow at fault and not worthy of attention or care.

We at Straightaway are often confronted with the idea that CNAs are just in it for themselves. They leave at the drop of the hat. They aren’t ready to do the work. The general tone we keep hearing is that the CNAs are somehow at fault and not worthy of attention or care.

When we examine the data around why CNAs leave their jobs, from their own responses, we see a different picture. The CNAs themselves report that they leave because of:

  1. Poor relationships with supervisors
  2. Lack of respect, and
  3. Lack of career advancement (Decker, Harris, Kojetin, & Bercovitz, 2009)

Other reasons they cite are:

  1. Too few fellow staff members
  2. Lack of trained staff, and
  3. Supervisors who showed little interest and gave little value to CNAs (Decker et al., 2009)

Surprisingly, hourly pay does not seem to have an influence on turnover (Rosen et al., 2011).

So, if these things are at odds with one another, how do we change that? We need to look deeper than the CNA role itself. Coming into these roles is a whole other animal, namely for the millennial generation. Most new CNAs are younger, digitally savvy and have high expectations on their managers.

Wait a minute, Straightaway, what do you mean by expectations? They are here to do a job, aren’t they?

Well, yes. But if you are truly seeking change in turnover and to ingrain person-centric care in your facilities, you have to help them grow into roles that allow for longevity in their careers and position fulfillment at your organizations. This will require you to evaluate the way you teach, train, and interact with your CNA workforce. Your CNAs want to make a difference, so help them help you.

This is the first in a three-part series dedicated to addressing what millennials want out of careers as CNAs. We will concentrate here on what organizations can do for their millennial CNAs.

Let’s get started!

What do CNAs want from their organizations?

  1. They want to work for a company that has strong values. This generation, more than most, wants to feel like they are making a difference with their labor. The boomer generation raised them to want to contribute to a greater good, and in addition, the landscape of employment has changed while they were growing up. Factory jobs, staying at one place your entire career, typing pools — nothing is as it was when the boomer generation was making their way. Millennials are simply reacting to what they were taught and what they see in the world.        The good news is, your organizations have values in spades. Healthcare appeals to many millennials who want to help their fellow man. But long-term care’s Achilles’ heel is that it has historically built its culture around its patients, residents and clients. And that isn’t a bad thing. But what millennial workers need is for that culture to prioritize them too. They want to be valued too. And they should be. What they do is the point-of-care support your customers need. They are the eyes and ears of what is going on with residents, a crucial position.
  2. They want an organization that can provide them a clear career path. Again, long-term care does this well. Many nurses and other healthcare workers get their start in a CNA role. But rather than leaving it up to them to grow into those higher level roles, you should analyze what you can offer to these workers so that they can progress within your organization. It’s so important to design career paths for the future, even if it is just tuition reimbursement for higher-level skills building. Robust organizations offer defined paths that employees can take to reach a variety of goals. Who better to take management and higher level roles than those who already know your organization inside and out.
  3. They want customizable options in benefits and rewards programs.  Not everyone wants or needs the same things in life. Benefits and rewards programs are no different. And by options, we can’t promise the moon, but we can work to develop programs that have some level of customization. This is getting better with the inclusion of technology systems into HR options. Rewards and recognition programs are popular where employees can recognize others via points or tokens, for example. Examine what your benefits and rewards programs are doing today. If they are static, do the research, ask your employees what they need, and pick a realistic goal. Once you set goals, you can begin to incorporate choices in your benefits package.
  4. They want to work for an organization that will develop their skills for the future. Millennials not only want a career progression, but they are also all about innovation. If you want to change a process or include innovation in your delivery of services, put some millennials on the committee! In concert with your career planning for them, make sure they have a skills progression inside their current role. It keeps things fresh and gives workers something to look forward to and to master. Too many times we think we have to teach everything at once. This can lead to poor skill mastery which can, in turn, overwhelm your people. Give some thought to the levels of training you subject your employees to and whether or not it makes sense for what both you and your people need.
  5. Lastly, they are looking for positions that allow them to blend their work with the rest of their life. This one usually gets an eye roll or two, especially for older managers. But the fact is, work life balance matters — and millennials are passionate about it. Helping your employees can come in many shapes and sizes. Implementing programs that tend to your employees’ specific needs can make a huge impact. We once toured a senior care organization that recruited workers from a low income, high crime area. One of the perks this organization offered their employees was onsite daycare. They were able to bring their children to work — the residents loved it and the workers cherished it. One worker remarked, “The time we spend here is the safest time of our day.” When you walk a mile in their shoes, you can begin to see what matters to your CNAs and ways you can meet their needs to help them be their best.

If you are having trouble supporting and keeping your CNAs, there are a lot of areas you can examine just in the organizational realm alone. Join us for the next series blog where we will look at what millennials are specifically searching for in a supervisor.

 

 

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Retain Your CNAs With a Peer Mentoring Program

Retain Your CNAs With a Peer Mentoring Program

Retain Your CNAs With a Peer Mentoring Program
Straightaway Team
December 11, 2018
The mindset is changing from “let's find more people” to “let’s try harder to retain the ones we have.”

Healthcare today is complicated. Changing requirements, varying patient needs, an evolving work force, and new reimbursement rules. Sometimes it feels as though all we do is manage change. On top of this maelstrom, it is often a struggle to keep qualified staff who can deliver the patient experience organizations require.

CNA Turnover is a Major Problem for Healthcare

Nowhere is this more evident than in the CNA population. Turnover rates in CNA positions can be over 100%, with a conservative cost per employee of over $8000 in 2018 dollars.  CNAs are also more likely to leave if they haven’t worked in a facility for at least a year. The most at-risk population of CNAs are the new ones – new to your facility or new to the industry, or both. Yikes!

Another finding from research is that your employees’ peers are as critical to the quality of the job as their managers. In a recent study, coworkers lead the pack in why CNAs disliked their job.  Does that surprise you?

Here are the three top causes of CNA dissatisfaction with their job:

  1. Coworkers (30%)
  2. Workload (26%)
  3. Supervisors (23%)

Peer Mentoring to Reduce Turnover

Forward thinking organizations are adopting a different mindset to begin to stem this tide. The mindset is changing from “let’s find more people” to “let’s try harder to retain the ones we have.” At the same time, we see operators begin to realize that culture isn’t just what we do for patients and families – it’s how we treat each other.

Peer mentoring is a great way to build culture and involve seasoned CNAs in the growth of new CNAs. Carol Hegeman’s “Growing Strong Roots” model is one such example. Carol’s work sought to develop a peer mentoring model that could:

  1. Improve CNA retention rates
  2. Improve orientation processes so that they reflect the values of the facility
  3. Reinforce critical skills and behaviors
  4. Teach the value of caring
  5. Use exemplary aides to role-model exemplary care
  6. Support new staff as they make the transition team; and
  7. Provide recognition and a career ladder for experienced nurse aides

Her approach provides five hours of focused orientation for the person who is assigned to coordinate the project. A strong project lead is highly recommended as new mentor/mentee pairs may be unaccustomed to their roles. The project lead would also be responsible for program outcomes, tweaks to the program, a communication plan for the program and/or other directional responsibilities.

The program involves one full day of training for the mentors, followed by two 3-hour booster sessions at later dates. The training explains the roles of a mentor as a tutor, resource, role model, and source of support. The program teaches the skills needed to mentor peers successfully, including how to provide effective feedback.

Compensation for the mentors took the form of extra time off, a cash bonus, or a gift certificate.

A few highlights of this model are:

  1. Mentoring takes place after the CNA certification is complete. This mentoring is intended to supplement – not replace – the usual training of new CNAs
  2. The mentee and mentor have an active relationship for at least eight weeks. The intensity of the relationships will be highest at the beginning and will reduce incrementally as the new CNA grows into their role
  3. The mentor will focus on four areas of success with the mentee: acting as a role model for care, supporting their CNA socially, tutoring their CNA in areas of struggle, and acting as a peer resource when things get rough
  4. In the first week, the mentee and mentor will work together on the same shifts, with the mentee initially just observing care. The mentee will gradually take on more and more single-handed responsibility as they grow familiar with the facility and their role as a CNA. By week eight, the CNA should be mostly self-sufficient
  5. Mentor training makes clear that the mentor does not teach or reteach clinical skills. Formal education remains the responsibility of the in-service educator; the mentor is encouraged to notify training staff when retraining seems necessary
  6. Mentors model correct clinical skills and attitudes, time management, and direct care to residents. Additionally mentors reinforce formal policies and procedures as well as explain the more informal practices like breaks, lunches and telephone usage. The mentors should encourage new CNAs to use the facility resources to make their job easier and more understandable. Mentors are to be a friend and advocate.

Results reported at a recent joint conference of the American Society on Aging and the National Council on Aging stated that the facilities with a mentoring program improved retention rates over three months from an average of 59% at baseline to 84% after the implementation of the mentoring program.

Straightaway Can Help

Straightaway Health Careers can assist in how your new hires experience their new positions. We specialize in innovative training approaches that combine a real-world view of what the job entails plus mentoring and communication tools that help your new hires feel they made the correct decision in choosing you. If you’ve never considered a peer mentoring program, we encourage you to do so. Below you will find a few good articles where you can find more information on peer mentoring.

 

Resources

Carol R. Hegeman, Peer Mentoring of Nursing Home CNAs: A Way to Create a Culture of Caring, Leading Age, New York, 2008.

Elizabeth Villanueva, Evidence-Based Mentorship Program: Overview, Review of Evidence, and Approach, Walden University, 2015.

Heidi Splete, “Peer Mentoring Promotes CNA Retention”, Caring for the Ages, 2008.

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