Safeguard Your Senior Care Franchise’s Most Important Assets

David Peasall_0.jpgSenior Care franchisees have their hands full with regulatory constraints, client needs, family expectations, competitive pressures and profitability concerns. Clearly, some of these are easier to manage than others.       

Another important area, that of human resource management, can be either a source of positive results or a cause of friction. The good news is that you can control this part of your franchise’s destiny – if you have the proper systems, processes and values in place.

Often senior care franchisees find themselves locked in operational mode, with too little attention paid to HR management. Here are a few ways to change that and create a more productive, quality oriented senior care franchise that focuses on client care as well as employee satisfaction. 

Get and keep good people

  • Make the right hires:Rather than trying to retrofit skills and values, why not look for the person who is the best fit to start with?  Senior care can be a challenging occupation, both physically and emotionally. Often turnover is high and it’s difficult to find the right people.  Look beyond the resume to learn why candidates are interested in the position and how they approach senior care. Although frontline care workers may move from position to position for relatively small raises, many choose senior care because they are compassionate, caring people, and may have even been a caregiver for a family member in the past. 
  • Explain your core values: Discuss not only what the franchise does but why you do it, so candidates can judge whether it’s a good fit for them.  
  • Train for skills, but also client care:New hires should have detailed position descriptions, training that includes hands-on competency training in key physical care areas and soft skills training to help them succeed with sometimes-difficult clients.
  • Offer competitive pay and benefits packages:Senior care franchises that experience higher rates of employee satisfaction and retention offer fair wages along with healthcare benefits and paid time off.  Adding flexible scheduling, weekend shifts or job sharing may also be attractive to people who are looking for part-time positions. 
  • Get managers on board:Your managers play a key role in employee retention so it’s important to provide them with the training they need to coach, train and lead their staff.
  • Engage employees:Treating employees with dignity and respect is one of the best ways to improve employee satisfaction and increase candidate referrals from existing staff. Here are a few ideas that work well in the senior care setting.  
  • Meaningful employee recognition programs improve morale, productivity and quality of client care. Identify the types of performance, as well as the behaviors you expect, and then offer rewards that motivate employees.
  • Survey your employees to gain information for future decisions and reinforce how important their opinions are to you. Let them know the results and actions that you plan to take.

Fix it if it’s broken

Not all employment relationships are positive, so here are ways to mitigate the negative impact of problem employees.

  • Train supervisors in corrective action processes: “Corrective action” is a more positive approach than “progressive discipline.” The goal should be solving problems and maintaining the relationship to help the employee become successful; rather than simply justifying a termination. 
  • Understand the issues:Corrective actions typically revolve around performance, attendance or conduct.  One area in which many supervisors err is including an “improvement by” deadline.  Performance improvement actions should create immediate, consistent and significant changes, not change in 30 or 60 days.  If issues are more egregious, you need to retain the right to fire the employee immediately, rather than waiting for the 30 days you had promised. 
  • Document, document, document:One of the most important things to do is documenting the file.  Your unemployment insurance rates may increase if you can’t back up the termination.  Even more importantly, you’ll need supporting information if the disgruntled employee sues.  Even if the case is without merit, you should have documentation as a critical resource to defend it. 
  • The process:Depending on the severity of the problem, corrective actions may start with a sit-down conversation, followed by coaching and, if the situation continues, a written warning.  If separation is the next step, you should have a written record of all these steps, but should also ensure that the employee understands why he/she is being terminated.  All such communication should be reasonable, dispassionate and brief.  There is no reason for it to be a harsh or lengthy conversation.

Your employees are a major “make or break” factor in your franchise’s success.  Taking the time to get the proper advice to establish best practices on both the positive and negative aspects of human resource management can put you on the path toward becoming an employer and franchise of choice, and most likely a more profitable one.

David Peasall, SPHR, is vice president, benefits and human resources at FrankCrum, a national professional employer organization that provides outsourced human resource services to franchises and other small to mid-sized businesses. He can be reached at davidp@frankcrum.com.