Articles by: Dylan Kane

Workforce Management Technology: A Key to Success in 2017

Every January 1st starts a new year with new opportunity. Millions of people embrace these new beginnings with a ‘carpe diem’ mentality by setting New Year’s resolutions. Setting goals for the new year is a great way to strive for better health, career advancement, and overall self-improvement. Unfortunately, research by the University of Scranton suggests that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. These findings beg the question: why do so many of us fall short and lose the ambition that was so strong in January? Where did our strict diets go astray or why can’t we stick to saving more money each month?

It’s not a lack of will or determination that keep many of us from sticking to our resolutions, but rather, the lack of real, measurable, process change. The same is true for executives striving to reach organizational goals and missions. Organizations in the Health and Human Services Industry constantly strive to improve their business internally, particularly through their workforce management, in order to provide their clients with the best possible quality of care.

Top Executive Resolutions for 2017

In DATIS’ recent Workforce Management Trends Survey, industry leaders ranked 10 Workforce Trends in order of priority for their organizations in 2017. Ranked in the top three were Recruiting & Retention, Employee Engagement & Satisfaction, and Talent Management.

It is no surprise that these three trends are common goals for industry leaders, as they reflect on these three important workforce goals:

  • Finding and keeping top talent
  • Strengthening company culture
  • Improving performance measurements

These goals together yield an output of exceptional care and service to clients—The ultimate mission for many organizations in the industry.

The Necessary Change for Success

With the necessary changes to your processes, these goals may be achievable. For many organizations, investment in effective workforce management technology is the catalyst for this change.

So, what real changes will an investment in technology offer to help achieve these top three workforce goals?

Where Technology Comes into Play
  1. Invest in high quality recruiting resources. Career landing pages must have videos and content showcasing the company culture and work atmosphere. Having links to social media sites is also important, especially when recruiting millennials.
  2. Shorten recruiting and onboarding processes. The right technology can filter unqualified or underqualified applicants and eliminate the re-entry of data, thus streamlining the onboarding process. This would better allow organizations to focus recruiting efforts on what’s important—Finding top talent.
  3. Invest in SEO – Don’t get stuck on ‘Search Results Page 3’. Search Engine Optimization is more important than ever. Many of us can admit that we rarely venture past the first page of search results. Typically, applicants will not reach your job posting if the link is not on the first page of Google search results.
  4. Reduce administrative tasks & increase employee satisfaction. Organizations often find their HR Departments spending an entire week processing payroll, or long hours completing open enrollment. Inefficiencies bog down departments and strain employees. Automate those tasks, and allow your payroll manager to work on strategic efforts focused on top priorities like recruiting top talent.
  5. Keep your employees current and engaged—‘Happy Birthdays’ go a long way. Employee engagement is important for boosting company culture and morale. Invest in technology that tracks employee birthdays and work anniversaries, as well as displays ‘Company News,’ or allows you to showcase your employee of the month.
  6. Monitor the performance of your workforce. Stop putting off or ditching performance appraisals—Invest in an efficient and effective way of conducting them and holding employees accountable. Always know where your team stands in terms of performance, learning and training, and compliance. These insights will allow you to maintain a top-quality workforce.

Investing in technology to reach these three goals will pay dividends for your workforce and the overall organization. A stronger, happier, and more skilled workforce yields better quality care for your clients—Make the right changes in process to conquer your mission in 2017.

This DATIS Blog was written by Dylan Kane, DATIS, on February 2nd, 2017 and may not be re-posted without permission.

The True Cost of Turnover for Human Service Organizations

Across all industries, attracting and retaining top talent are top priorities among executives. This is particularly true of nonprofit Human Services organizations, who are constantly looking to grow their workforces to meet the increasing demand of their clients and patients. Unfortunately, this industry is notorious for high turnover rates, with organizations often reaching turnover as high as 40%.

While all industries experience turnover and its internal impact on culture and employee morale, there are several factors that make high turnover particularly threatening to the success of the Human Service organizations. For these organizations, not only do executives have to worry about the internal consequences of high turnover, but they must also be mindful and proactive of the external impact that their turnover has on their clients and patients. This makes the cost of turnover much higher for these organizations, and is currently putting pressure on executives to solve their turnover mystery.

How it Impacts the Quality of Care
For many Human Services organizations, providing high quality of care to patients is their top priority. Unfortunately, high turnover rates make this task increasingly difficult, and often weaken the relationships that organizations have with their patients. Behavioral and Mental Health treatment programs require that a great deal of trust, understanding, and comfort is established between the patient and the professional. The importance of trust in healthcare settings is affirmed in a 2008 study by BMC Health Services Research, who researched the importance of patient-caregiver relationships and their impact on impactful treatment. The study found that when patients were asked to describe their experiences while admitted, they did so largely in the context of the caregivers they encountered, rather than the kind of treatment they received.

For people with behavioral health disorders, mental health disorders, or intellectual/developmental disabilities, familiarity and trust are essential in treatment programs. When caregivers leave because of high turnover, it can be hard for patients to build trustful relationships while admitted, and can force them to go through the frustrating process of starting a relationship from scratch all over again. With that said, high turnover can have a detrimental impact on the quality of care provided by organizations, and negatively effects their external cost of turnover. In some cases, high turnover puts the reputation of some Human Services at risks if patients are vocal about their negative experiences due to poor caregiver turnover.

How it Hurts the Bottom Line
Across all industries, employees are aptly referred to as “human capital,” as they are an asset to their respective organizations. Given that for most Human Services organizations employees represent their organization’s largest expense, it’s fair to say that employees are the organization’s most important asset. In many ways, employees can also be seen as investments, especially when considering the significant costs and resources required during the recruiting, onboarding, and training processes of new employees.

Consequently, high turnover results in a significant financial loss. Josh Bersin, Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, claims that replacing an employee can cost 1.5 to 2 times the employee’s salary. When an employee is terminated or otherwise leaves an organization, the money and resources invested in that employee are ultimately lost. The financial impact is significantly higher when turnover is occurring in highly-skilled positions, like Psychiatrists or Registered Nurses. Last year, SHRM posted an article listing the hardest jobs to fill in 2017. In their ‘Top 10 List,’ which included positions in all industries, 4 of the top 10 were positions found in Human Services organizations. The harder it becomes to fill these positons, the more critical it is to increase retention and protect the investments made in our employees, limiting their internal cost of turnover.

Combating High Turnover
More than ever, organizations are investing significant resources into recruiting qualified applicants, training and monitoring performance, acclimating new hires, and engaging employees. Here are a few ways that modern HR and Recruiting technology is allowing organizations to attract and retain top talent:

  • Attract the best talent with better career sites and a streamlined applicant experience
  • Allow for faster, better communication and collaboration among recruiters and hiring managers
  • Implement better, more thorough background and reference check processes
  • Increase employee engagement with online company news and announcements
  • Capture real-time metrics on turnover rates that breakdown of turnover by program, location, etc., allowing executives to uncover underlying retention risks
  • Utilize online, automated performance reviews help monitor and track performance standards and employee satisfaction

As we jump into the new year, executives need to investigate ways to increase retention in order to protect their most valuable investment, their employees. Increasing retention is critical for the growth and success of an organization, and more importantly, the success of treatment programs for their patients. If executives can limit and decrease their overall cost of turnover, they can provide their patients with higher quality care, and strengthen their organization’s bottom line.

This DATIS Blog was written by Dylan Kane, DATIS, on January 18th, 2018 and may not be re-posted without permission.

How To Increase Retention Without Raising Salaries

DATIS’ annual State of Workforce Management Report surveyed over 400 Health and Human Services executives regarding current priorities, challenges, and goals. Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge overall was recruiting and retaining top talent. 42% of respondents answered that their respective organizations experience turnover rates of 20% or higher. Employee turnover at these rates not only costs organizations substantial money and resources, it also impacts the quality of care provided to their clients.

So why is recruiting and retaining talent so difficult for organizations in this industry? Again, not surprisingly, the biggest challenge is the organizations’ inability to offer competitive salaries and benefit packages. According to survey results, 53% of respondents believe that their inability to offer competitive salaries and benefits is their biggest restraint in recruiting talent.

Unfortunately, many organizations, particularly those that are nonprofits, do not have the financial capital to match the salaries and benefit packages offered by some of their competitors. This doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t still attract and retain top talent.

In order to overcome this challenge, Health and Human Services executives need to:

Foster a stronger employee-employer relationship.
There are several ways to create stronger ties between employees and their respective organizations. One way, especially for organizations that are located near colleges or universities, is to maintain a strong internship/mentor programs and invest in marketing strategies to begin to attract talent before potential employees enter the workforce.

College (or even high school) students who are looking to get first-time experience or mentorship are not typically ‘shopping around’ for organizations that offer the most competitive salaries or comprehensive medical coverage. Rather, they are looking to work for organizations with a strong reputation (this is where marketing and branding strategies come into play), and programs that will give them the best on-the-job experience. From there, successful interns/mentees can make strong hires, because they already have experience with the agency and will feel that they have already made a substantial investment in the organization and that the organization has invested in them.

In an article by Behavioral Healthcare Executive, Dawne Carlson, Vice President of Human Resources for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, describes how her organization “offers a graduate school program that helps create a direct link from education to active clinical work at its facilities. Talent can be replenished close to home, and new openings can be filled by the graduating students who are already familiar with the organization.” Programs like these can be effective ways to recruit top talent and increase retention.

Revisit current employee incentives and policies.
Referencing back to the DATIS’ State of Workforce Management Report, respondents revealed that about 83% of their employees are millennials. Forbes reports that 75% of the entire workforce will be millennials by 2025. It is commonly stated that millennials have the mentality of “work to live” while those belonging to older generations “live to work.” It’s fair to say that Millennials place much more importance on having a healthy work-life balance.

Applicants and employees are more heavily weighing PTO and vacation policies when searching for jobs and deciding where to work. Executives may need to revisit their PTO/vacation policies and accrual methodologies in order to provide more competitive and appealing time-off offerings. As an example, some organizations still do not allow employees to ‘roll over’ accrued PTO hours into a new calendar year.

Not only are rules like this unattractive to applicants and frustrating for employees, but they can result in situations where too many employees want to ‘use up’ accrued PTO (so as to not lose it), particularly at the end of the year. This causes an influx in PTO requests, which results in either staffing shortages, or unhappy employees with denied requests and lost PTO hours. Policies like these should be reviewed and adjusted to stay competitive and promote employee satisfaction.

Get creative in what they can afford to offer to applicants and employees.
There are many creative ways to target potential needs or priorities of applicants and employees—It just requires understanding what is important to your employees and potential employees. For example, if your organization is mostly comprised of millennial workers, the chances are high that a lot of those workers (or potential applicants) are paying off student loans or are aspiring to earn additional degrees. With this in mind, offering student loan forgiveness or academic scholarship could be attractive alternatives to offering higher salaries.

In January 2018, Behavioral Healthcare Executive surveyed treatment center professionals on industry-specific workforce issues. Of more than 600 respondents, nearly 17% believe that student loan forgiveness or academic scholarships would be the best solution to help attract more workers to the behavioral health field—second only to strategies that would increase workers’ pay. This strategy, although it does cost the organization money, can be more cost-effective, and can also help to increase retention. If an employee is receiving loan forgiveness or decides to pursue a degree paid for (even in part) by your organization, it is likely that of the employee will stay with the organization for longer.

Health and Human Services organizations often lack the funding and resources to offer the highest salaries and most comprehensive benefits packages. However, one thing employees have in this industry is a passion for the work they do and the help they provide to their clients. Organizations can overcome the challenges of this competitive job market—and better recruit and retain talent—by fostering strong employee-employer relationships and listening to the wants and needs of their workforce to provide creative incentives and employment benefits.

This DATIS Blog was written by Dylan Kane, DATIS, on March 8th, 2018 and may not be re-posted without permission.