Research from many sources reports that, of all the factors in the work environment, leadership has the most significant impact on employee productivity, engagement, performance and motivation.
Within the home care industry, there are typically three types of leadership across agencies:
- Talent-oblivious, where little to no resources are allocated to talent attraction, motivation, development or retention. As such, hiring, development and retention are often ineffective and absent of any planning. This is usually because leadership is focused on processes much more than on the people who work within those processes. Caregivers and other staff are seen as incidental and viewed as replaceable commodities.
- Talent-aware, where some resources are assigned to talent attraction, motivation, development, and retention, but often unintentionally and without consistency. It is typically considered as ‘nice to have’ but not essential. As a result, hiring, development and retention are inconsistent, and any talent management planning does not align with the agency’s overall strategic plan.
- Talent-focused agencies are the gold standard in home care. Their allocation of resources for talent attraction, motivation, development and retention is intentional and considered essential to the agency’s success. Recruitment, development, and retention are prioritized, and talent management is integrated within the agency’s overall strategic plan. Home care agencies with talent-focused leadership put their people first. They believe in the potential of their caregivers and other staff, invest in them, and actively encourage personal development and self-management.
If you want engaged, highly productive, motivated, talented employees who help you, your team, and your home care agency excel, it is worth reviewing your leadership style.
The positive outcomes of talent-focused leadership have been extensively researched. It has been shown to result in more trust, connectedness, involvement, and employee well-being.
In addition to helping you meet your business goals, generate revenue and achieve mission impact through talent, talent-focused leadership can benefit your agency in multiple ways, including:
- Better caregiver performance and outcomes
- Sustained productivity flow
- Effective communication channels
- Higher employee retention
- Reduced company costs (i.e. advertising, recruiting, etc., due to higher retention rates)
- Greater employer brand value
- Increased caregiver satisfaction
- Increased patient/client satisfaction.
Understanding the benefits of adopting a more talent-focused leadership style is just the beginning of actually achieving it for your agency. To achieve the benefits listed, your agency needs to aim for:
- Strategy: Having a talent management strategy in place and ensuring it aligns with your overall business strategy, goals and outcomes.
- Intentionality: Recognizing that your mission will be as impactful as the extent to which you prioritize talent and that talent is an asset to be managed, nurtured and invested in.
- Integration: Bringing your business strategy together with your talent management strategy to become talent-focused, requires high-level integration. (If this seems a daunting challenge, you can consider employing an HR professional at a leadership level to ensure better collaboration between management and talent prioritization or use an HR partner firm that understands your agency’s unique needs.)
Finding the right balance between a ‘hard’ business approach (focused on efficiency, profitability and results) and a ‘soft, people-oriented’ approach (focused on facilitating, developing and stimulating talent), requires a new kind of leadership.
Home care agencies of any size can benefit from a more talent-focused leadership style and put budget-appropriate talent initiatives in place that support all staff in feeling appreciated and valued.
Here are our top five suggestions to help you get started in developing and benefiting from a more talent-focused leadership style:
1. Allocate resources to attract new talent to your agency
Talent-focused leadership needs to start at the very beginning, with attracting talented employees – or those with great potential – that will help move your agency towards accomplishing its goals.
While there are no magical solutions for attracting the best caregivers to your agency, there are ways you can increase the number of talented caregivers that notice and apply to your agency.
One crucial method is to invest in better job postings to make sure your agency stands out from the crowd and attracts more high-quality caregivers than ever. If adapting your usual hiring process into a remote hiring process is proving challenging, we’ve put together ten tips to help you attract talented caregivers online during the COVID-19 crisis.
It is also helpful to track where your best applicants come from, so you can allocate more resources to the best sources.
Using home care software, like SMARTcare’s Hiring Hub, helps you track and manage the complete hiring process online. It enables you to respond quickly to candidates that apply and better assess potential hires, helping to secure top, talented caregivers. Using KPI dashboards and hiring insight analytics, you can also easily track where your most successful applicants are coming from and allocate more of your resources there.
2. Make great hiring decisions
Visionary talent-focused leaders select great people who fit well with their agency’s culture, mission, and values. They also ensure that the applicants they choose possess the skills, potential and personal traits needed to succeed in the position.
Selecting the ‘right’ people for the job, who fit well with your agency and the positions on offer, increases the likelihood they will do a great job and be committed in the long-term.
Talent-focused leadership does not select staff purely for the sake of quantity. It identifies solid potential employees through skills assessments and measurements of strengths and weaknesses. This ensures your agency can place/match caregivers with the right clients in a mutually agreeable environment – improving both caregiver and client satisfaction.
Regardless of the job market, talented employees will always have the option to be selective about where they work. As a talent-focused leader, creating a positive candidate experience and automating the applicant process need to be top priorities if you are going to attract the most talented caregivers, and scoop them up before the competition.
While this might seem like a lot of extra work, an applicant tracker system, like the one in SMARTcare’s software, will make the whole hiring process easier for you. It not only ensures you are always up-to-date with each candidate’s progress in the application process but also guarantees a fast, effective and seamless experience for your applicants.
Over time, as you build a reputation as an agency that prioritizes talent management, you will naturally attract other people seeking to join a talent-focused organization. Top performers will soon be striving to join your team.
3. Nurture and develop your caregivers’ talent
After all the time, energy and cost spent on recruiting processes, it is crucial to keep your talented caregivers on board.
Talent-focused leaders invest their own time to know and nurture talent and intentionally build teams that include a wide range of complementary skills, creating teams that are stronger on a combined basis. They continually help their team feel supported, providing varied opportunities for training and coaching and maintaining consistent communication. They have a budget allocated purely for the development of their team, for attending conferences, taking classes, buying books, and so on.
They also provide access to other feedback providers, mentors, coaches, and colleagues, who can help employees further develop their skills and talents, identify career options and opportunities, and find ways to enrich and enliven their work.
If your team believes that you are invested in them as people, they will be more engaged, committed and interested in contributing to the shared vision. Caregivers and other staff will stay with your agency because they feel valued and appreciated. Talented employees want to work for an agency where they feel they have a future and a chance for advancement.
Offering continuing professional development communicates to your staff that you are invested in them. It benefits your agency on many levels because they will:
- be more effective in their work
- feel more satisfied
- be more likely to recommend your agency to family and friends
- have increased professional value
- be more committed.
Employees who feel committed to an agency work harder and strive for excellence more than those who don’t.
4. Recognize, appreciate and reward talent and potential
Talent-focused leaders know the importance of making sure their employees feel recognized and appreciated for their work.
They find creative ways to recognize and reward caregivers when financial incentives aren’t possible, providing recognition to both individuals and teams. They also identify multiple options for recognizing and rewarding contributions to success because they know one size doesn’t fit all.
While it is obviously far more challenging during a pandemic, with fewer opportunities for staff get-togethers and in-person relationship building, it is still possible to establish a recognition program. Consistently recognizing and acknowledging your caregivers will do wonders for your agency’s company culture, team spirit, employer branding strategy and client/patient satisfaction (as they receive consistent, reliable care). It is also proven to dramatically reduce staff turnover rates with immediate effect.
Rewards are powerful tools, crucial for retaining top talent and keeping your caregivers and staff feeling happy and appreciated. Rewarding your caregivers and staff will have excellent, long-lasting effects and is a great way to set your home care agency apart from the rest.
5. Create and sustain a positive company culture in which talent can flourish
Talent-focused leaders put in the time and effort to create a positive company culture that promotes and inspires trust, respect, and communication – a culture that values a broad range of unique contributions and leverages each team member’s skills.
They work to create a culture of inclusion that values differences not just of race and gender but also of experience, attitude, thought and perspective. These leaders understand that everyone can make a valuable contribution to the team’s success and, ultimately, the agency’s success.
Ways you can utilize talent-focused leadership to create a positive work culture include:
- collaborate and negotiate with caregivers to adjust the distribution of work best to fit their individual values, interests, and talents.
- focus on talent and understand that ‘knowledge is power’. Share information freely and regularly, so your agency’s goals, purpose, expectations and responsibilities are aligned with the individuals working there.
- get to really know your team and what makes them tick. Encourage sharing personal information, family activities and events, problems, and issues (to the extent that people feel comfortable to do so).
- promote work-life balance, including flexible work options, support/counselling services, paid time off and self-care gift rewards.
- try new work arrangements, such as flexible and remote working and video conferencing, knowing that the agency’s goals must be met, but the methods by which they are met are negotiable.
It is an ever-evolving process to create and sustain a positive company culture and a strong, successful team. However, the time and effort you put in will reap considerable rewards in the long term. It is these factors that can help your agency significantly outperform the rest in 2021.
Every home care agency is only as successful as its team – they all rely on the quality of care that their caregivers provide. As a leader, your job is to manage and guide your team to be engaged, motivated, productive and empowered in their roles.
Additionally, the rapidly changing world requires leaders who have a great deal of self-knowledge, are positive, solution-oriented and can motivate people to optimize potential. Some leaders make full use of their talents and encourage others to flourish. In contrast, others do not pay any (or only insufficient) attention to their own and others’ talents, leaving substantial potential unused.
Successful leaders value and optimize the potential of every member of their team. They understand that talented employees are the most valuable asset in helping their agency reach its strategic goals. Attracting, recruiting, integrating, developing, motivating and retaining talented individuals is where wise leaders are focusing increasing amounts of their attention. With the right insights and mindset, you can grow in your leadership role to be more talent-focused. You can ensure all your employees are getting the attention, connection, meaning, recognition and development of their talents that they need – in turn guaranteeing your home care agency reaches its strategic objectives and operational goals for a highly successful 2021.