Do You Prefer Employees Or Non-Employees To Answer Your Questions Staff Retention Means Saving Money and Better Services at Non-Profits

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Staff Retention Means Saving Money and Better Services at Non-Profits

Of course there are many different non-profits. Some are big, some are very small. Some have turnover problems, while others definitely don’t. The title of this article actually refers to social service providers who provide 24-hour care to vulnerable populations. I’m talking about residential facilities that serve people with disabilities; disturbed children and youth; skilled nursing facilities for the elderly and more. No matter what your organization does, I want you to consider the following: you don’t have to be a victim of turnover; You will see many reductions but it means doing things differently.

Bad Hiring Decisions. Does your organization regularly hire and train new people; too many do not even last 90 days; if so, you are on the turnover treadmill. Some behaviors that are often associated with turnover are: complaining; poor decision making; blurred boundaries; personal conflict with staff. You can avoid premature termination and other performance problems by getting the right applicants in the first place. You can have a hiring process that revolves around the kind words applicants say and reflects who they are at their core. You eliminate the untrustworthy, the untrustworthy, the ones with anger issues, the ones who can’t read or write. In short, you can hire people because they really “match” your organization, not because you’re desperate to fill an afternoon shift vacancy. In future articles we will explore some of the things you can do to increase your chances of hiring someone who will contribute to your organization in the next five years.

Ineffective Management. Some studies suggest that at least 1/3 of all front line, direct care workers leave their jobs within 90 days of being hired. These are the personnel who will have the greatest impact on whether or not you achieve your mission. When you hire them you think they have the potential to contribute; you are wrong because they leave before they get to know your clients. Now you have to start over to fill the void. Staff turnover is expensive and it is impossible to achieve good program results. But staff turnover has reasons in addition to bad hiring decisions. Ineffective management is another major issue. Some supervisors never supervise; they feel inadequate and they don’t really understand what their responsibilities entail. Or, there are supervisors who act as “metro maids”; spending their time walking around with a ticket book, just waiting for someone to break a rule so they can write a ticket and declare a violation. I’ve never had anyone tell me that their supervisor praised them or taught them a lot. On the other hand, many employees tell me that the only time they hear from their supervisor is when they make a mistake. Supervisors must ensure that employees who report to them, continue to be an asset to the organization by ensuring that their personal and professional needs are met; that their employees are growing and learning.

You Are Not Alone. If these problems sound familiar, don’t worry most social service organizations are the same as yours. They make hiring decisions based on first impressions, applicant background checks and how badly they need a vacancy to be filled.

On the first day of work they put the new employee directly into the group home or nursing unit and in effect are told to “sink or swim”. So you are not alone; most of your peers act the same way you do; they really know what they are doing is wrong. But in today’s environment, with the public expecting your organization to do more with fewer resources, the challenge can be getting through the day without too much trouble; let’s worry about tomorrow then.

Finding a New Way. Although many social service leaders often operate in crisis mode, there is another way. This includes moving to a new set of methods designed to address the many causes of everyday crises. Agencies that do not have time to develop new methods find that they can work with outside consultants to help them design and implement new work methods that are designed around what is known. It’s our best way. The challenge is to find new methods that call for a level of effort and investment comparable to yesterday’s crisis mode of operation. But it is a challenge that if successfully met will be of great benefit to the organization and above all, to those it serves.

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