Getting it Right: Hiring for Culture and Employee Engagement in a Post COVID World

While today’s unemployment rate, due to the ongoing pandemic, is significantly higher than it was three months ago, it is sure to fall as the economy comes back and small businesses work to restore payroll and headcount in order to conform to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness parameters. Rest assured there will, once again, be more job openings than available candidates. And the cost of hiring will continue to rise as the candidate talent pool shrinks.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it now costs over $4,000 to hire and onboard a single employee. When you consider the additional cost of employee churn (fees, onboarding, downtime, training, morale, etc.) it becomes easy to see that to have, and maintain, a successful business, you need to be competitive in your quest for hiring top talent (if you don’t hire the best, your competition surely will). COVID-19 has moved the goalposts, but the rules of the game remain the same.

If you received a PPP loan then you may need to hire staff quickly in order to restore payroll and headcount by December 31, 2020. Resist the temptation bring in additional staff to, merely, fill empty seats. If your PPP loan is not entirely forgiven then you are left with, at worst, a low interest loan that you have plenty of time to pay back. Careless hiring decisions in the service of getting 100 percent loan forgiveness should be avoided. As hard as it may be in these uncertain times, you should do your best to adhere to sound business strategies. Especially when it comes to hiring.

A good place to start when building a plan for hiring is with your culture. It’s “who you are.” It’s how your community, your customers, your employees, and your competitors perceive you. And it does not happen by accident. It’s best reflected by the team that you’ve assembled; for better or for worse. Think about your culture and whether it’s the one that you want? Now, think about what you have and think about controlling it.

The first step in creating the right culture is hiring the right people.

Many of us first consider an applicant’s skills when hiring. That makes perfect sense…or does it? There are biases at play when we make decisions. Confirmation bias and the “Halo Effect” can impact how we value skills and traits. And when we overvalue strong skills and undervalue troublesome traits, we could be setting ourselves up for failure (a bad hire).

A recent study on “Hiring for Attitude” suggests that most new hires fail NOT because of technical competence (skills), but because of other factors related to emotional intelligence, work ethic, coachability, self-motivation, and temperament. Remember that skills are relatively easy to develop while traits, attitudes, and attributes are not. And traits, attitudes, and attributes are what contribute to your culture—for better or worse.

When vetting a candidate for hire, make sure you’re looking at the following traits which are predictors for high levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ):

During interviews, ask candidates a question relating to conflict resolution (for example: Can you tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you resolved it?) and then consider the following:

  • Did they know what they did wrong (self-awareness)?
  • Did they control their emotions/anger (self-regulation)?
  • Did they really understand the other side (empathy)?
  • Why did they seek to resolve the conflict? Did they engage for the right reasons?
  • Did they exhibit a certain social grace in solving the issue? Were they mindful of the outcome or social cost?

This exercise will give you a strong indication of the candidate’s EQ, covering many of the most important traits that contribute to a great culture. As you build your team around these traits, you’ll be rewarded with the culture that you deserve. The result: you become an “employer of choice” and have “brand champions” who will help curate your culture because:

  • They enjoy their job and don’t merely do it for the money
  • They look for opportunities to mentor
  • They demonstrate the behaviors of leaders
Creating a culture of growth and development is a great way to demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow and can speak to the policies and procedures that you have in place to encourage growth, can offer examples, or, better yet, identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you’ll be in a great position to attract like-minded employees.

A key thing to keep in mind as you evaluate or create your ideal culture is that the ideal work environment is one built on respectfulness, transparency, and fairness. And always remember: while people may ultimately come to work for you because of money, they will stay—or leave—because of your culture.

Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help you attract, vet, and develop a team that will define the company culture you’ve always strived for. Talk to your Account Manager today or contact our Recruiting Department at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

Rethinking Business Done Well

I recently sat down over a two-day period with the Owners and Directors of Operations of 15 large hearing care practices. This group collectively represents some of the more efficient organizations in our industry, each one easily within the top five percent in terms of direct impact delivered and overall revenue.

Over the course of the meetings, we discussed industry dynamics, marketing tactics, and P&L (Profit & Lost) performance: all subjects that influence almost every business in our profession, big and small.

However, none of the above topics drove the most curiosity and ire from these highly proficient business leaders or was the topic we spent the most time discussing.

leadership-narrowDo you want to know what topic we discussed the most?

Answer: team development and recruiting!

Even with all the success these business leaders have had, they still struggle to earn buy-in from their teams in order to drive performance and cement a commitment to excellence. And, like so many other employers, they also still struggle to find and retain the most skilled individuals to help service their patients.

Some were caught in a constant state of hiring, training, and replacing team members so frequently that in one case, sadly, they admitted not knowing the full name of every employee on their payroll.

“We’ve seen the enemy,” one owner said. “And it’s us.”

Overstated perhaps, but even those most confident in their circumstances admitted a desire to see greater drive in their employees and greater results from their teams.

The truth is, the single greatest strength for a company is its people and the single most volatile variable for business success is leadership. In fact, unless you’re a true one-person practice, your best hope for growth and sustainability is to scale your expertise and patient focus beyond your direct influence through your staff.

Even the highest performing practices are beginning to rethink the way that they do business in order to drive real results.

Maybe you should, too.

The best advice we can offer is to…

  1. Fall in love with your patients again—not your products and services—and teach your team to do the same.
  2. Thread your WHY through every narrative, from marketing to attracting, hiring, and developing your dream team.
  3. Understand that it’s a buyers’ market for employees and take the time to understand what motivates each (current or prospective) team member then learn how to tie it to performance.
  4. Let Consult YHN help you find experienced candidates who will positively influence and integrate into your practice then continuously develop their skills.

In other words, take advantage of the national, industry-leading support system that Consult YHN provides. This includes our full lifecycle Recruiting Services and the Consult Employee Development Program (EDP) which offers regional classes throughout the year for every member of your staff to ensure they’re working together harmoniously, efficiently, and with an “opportunity mindset.”

About the Author

Cliff Carey is an Account Manager in our East Region. With nearly 20 years of business and management experience, Cliff joined Consult YHN in early 2019 to lead our associates in New York and northern New Jersey. Cliff’s diverse background in business strategy, systems analysis, human resource and team development, and marketing and consumer engagement have helped him to drive for operational success and revenue growth both in and outside of hearing healthcare.

Drive the Highest Levels of Growth Through Employee Engagement

Your brand is who you are. It’s how your community, patients, current and prospective employees, and competitors perceive you. It’s reflected by the team that you’ve assembled, for better or worse. And, it is intentional (i.e. it does not occur by accident)—you create it, you develop it, you maintain it, you own it.

Now think about your own brand—is it the brand that you want? If not, the best way to change it is through hiring and employee development. The takeaway is to hire the right people, pay attention to attitude, attributes, and traits, and create paths of development for your team. If you do these things, then you will drive employee engagement.

And only with a highly engaged team can you drive the growth that your organization needs.

But how do you deal with the team you have today? How can you make sure that you have the right people in the right seats? And if you do, then how do you keep them engaged?

In this post, we’ll review the three levels of employee engagement, how to identify where each employee resides, and how to manage them successfully to drive the highest levels of growth.

The first step is to identify and understand the levels of employee engagement:

Level 1: Engaged
Engaged employees distinguish themselves with a “whatever it takes” mindset. They most likely can and will do anything within the scope of the work environment. They are with your organization more out of love than money—love for you, the position, co-workers, customers and, most of all, for the organization’s vision and purpose. They are not difficult to identify as they will seek opportunities to mentor, look for challenging tasks and additional responsibilities, and exhibit the traits that you usually see in leaders. You need to hold onto these people. They will attract like-minded employees to your organization, become evangelists for your mission, and sometimes even help to motivate unengaged employees. You want a culture that shows them appreciation, challenges them, and provides opportunities for them to mentor. In other words, you want to create a path to organizational leadership for truly engaged employees.
Level 2: Unengaged

Unengaged employees are with you for the money. They may not be invested in the job or the organization but usually can and will do the work. Their skills and abilities are not called into question, but their motivation and commitment may be. You will get just enough out of unengaged employees and they will stay with you unless/until someone offers them more money. The best course of action with these employees is to engage with them more and try to figure out what motivates them. Look for a connection point or hot button and capitalize on it. They can be moved in the right direction and become engaged (and you can never have too many engaged employees!), but it takes a lot of effort.

Level 3: Actively Disengaged
Actively disengaged employees either can do the job but won’t or can’t do the job and don’t care enough to learn how. These are employees who will pollute your culture. They will help bring an unengaged employee down to their level and give reason for an engaged employee to leave. They can be identified by an air of entitlement, contributions to office gossip, and an unwillingness to learn. They thrive on drama and may say things like, “It’s not my job.” The best thing to do with employees like this is to manage them out by applying progressive discipline, including regular one-on-one discussions about their behavior and job performance. Set clear expectations and make sure that they understand changes need to be made and that they will be held accountable for making them.
In conclusion, the best people will come to work for you—and stay with you—because of an engaged culture. When hiring, look for these key traits: Emotional Intelligence (EQ), empathy, positivity, work ethic, coachability, passion, humility, and vulnerability. When managing, take the time to interact with and really get to know the people you’re leading. Also, practice sound performance management (set expectations, model behavior, observe and evaluate, provide feedback, and coach). Be consistent but recognize that performance management is not always a “one size fits all” process.

And remember: YOU control your culture and brand.

Our experienced recruiters can help you assemble a highly-engaged and high-performing team. Talk to your Account Manager today about taking advantage of our industry-leading, full lifecycle recruiting services or email the Recruiting Department at recruitingservices@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

Four Ways to Inspire & Motivate Your Staff

Is your team happy, productive, and motivated? Do they care about what they do and what the company stands for? Unengaged employees are a common problem for any type of business in any industry.

In fact, according to Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” Report, over half of the U.S. workforce is not engaged. In other words, over 50 percent of current employees are unhappy with their current job and are actively looking for a new one.

If this doesn’t seem like a big deal, then consider these statistics: organizations with higher than average employee engagement realize 27 percent higher profits, 50 percent higher sales, and 50 percent higher customer loyalty levels.

So, as a manager, what can you do?

When it comes down to it, you can’t make people care. You can, however, inspire them to think differently about your business and the work that they do.

Here are four ways you can effectively inspire and motivate your team:

1. Evangelize company goals and values.

Make sure your employees understand what your vision is and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you communicate to them why you do what you do, they are more likely to treat the company as if it is their own. Show them their purpose and how it affects the business. Also, include your employees in your decision-making. Asking for a person’s input or opinion can give him/her a greater sense of belonging and help foster a culture of collaboration.

2. Incentivize and encourage them.

Show appreciation for employees that work hard and reward them for a job well done. Employees want to know that their work is acknowledged and valued. Offer constructive criticism to staff members when needed along with support to make changes so that you continue to boost their confidence. Consider putting a reward plan in place so that your employees have clear goals and something to work towards. Statistics show that this could increase employee performance by as much as 44 percent! Organizations that offer some sort of recognition program also have a lower turnover rate.

3. Invest in their professional growth.

Discover what’s important to your employees. This sends a clear message that you care about their future, not only with the company but in their professional career. More importantly, offer your staff periodic training opportunities that will strengthen the skills needed to thrive in their current roles or to advance within the company, such as Consult YHN’s weekly teletrainings and Employee Development Program (EDP) classes. Some of our practices will also offer tuition reimbursement to employees who want to continue their education. All of this helps to create “promotable” employees and, in turn, helps you save money in the long run.

4. Trust them.

Micromanaging is counterproductive. Have faith in your team’s abilities (that’s why you hired them in the first place!). It sounds so simple, but your trust has the potential to boost engagement, increase productivity, improve communication, build team spirit, and encourage employee advocacy. Cross-train your staff so that they have the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities in the future. Allow for mistakes, correct them, then step back and see how your employees manage without direct supervision.

Finally, don’t forget that Consult YHN offers industry-leading employee development and recruiting services that can help you build an engaged and high-performing team.

Ask your Account Manager for more information or contact our Recruiting Department today at RecruitingServices@ConsultYHN.com.

About the Author

Jason DiOttavio joined Consult YHN as a Corporate Recruiter in 2011. Previously, he worked as an agency recruiter for a staffing firm specializing in IT/Administrative roles including such large companies as Dietz & Watson. When not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and young daughter. He’s also obsessed with cooking shows and finding new ice cream and donut shops.

The Most Important Interview Question Isn’t What You Think

Every savvy interviewer will ask an iteration of: “Why should I hire you?”

It’s a good question that can elicit great insights into a candidate’s self-worth, awareness, and understanding of the position. So, keep asking it!

However, very few interviewers would be able to come up with a compelling answer if a candidate asked, “Why should I come to work here?”

That’s also a good question. And even if it’s not asked specifically by a candidate, you can be sure that he or she is thinking about it. Hopefully, you’re providing implied answers throughout the interview. Now more than ever, employers need to be able to address this question head-on.

While the employment pool was once filled with candidates who were eager to please and grateful for opportunities to compete for “good jobs,” times have changed. Unemployment is at a historic low. There are more job openings than there are job seekers. The most skilled candidates will be very selective about where they choose to work. Small businesses face even greater hiring challenges because they’re competing with large corporations that offer high salaries, robust benefits, and attractive perks.

A great approach to your business (and your life, for that matter) is to simply do your best to control everything that you can. Here are three things that you can control when it comes to staffing and team building, along with three possible answers to that all-important question: “Why should I come to work here.”

 

“We offer a competitive salary as well as excellent benefits and perks.”

Let’s face facts: job seekers are going to go wherever they can get the most money (I know, I know, “Thanks, Captain Obvious!”). It’s crucial to establish salary guidelines that are in line with the prevailing industry and geographic standards. This is one area where you shouldn’t be looking to cut costs. Benefits and perks should also be part of your compensation equation (they certainly show up as line item costs on a P&L statement).

Now that we’ve addressed the obvious, you’ll be happy to know that there are other ways to be competitive in attracting talent.

“We’ll help you build skills that will last a lifetime.”

Many employers look to find people that can “hit the ground running.” In doing so, they sometimes confuse skills and experience with attributes and traits. They look for candidates who have acquired job skills through experience and professional development opportunities provided by previous employers. Your competitor assumed all the costs and did all the heavy lifting to develop this employee—what’s not to love?

Well, you may end up paying top dollar for talent like this and you may end up with an employee who isn’t challenged by the position.

So what if, instead of focusing on their skills, you also factored in the attributes that you want in an employee? Wouldn’t you be willing to teach, mentor, coach, and develop someone who had an impeccable work ethic?

You could end up with an employee who is challenged every day to learn; The kind of employee who is grateful for the opportunity and is engaged in his or her job and with the business; An employee who could contribute character and positivity to the kind of culture you want to build and maintain; Someone who would be an evangelist for your organization and help you attract future like-minded employees.

Bonus: they’ll cost you less than the employee who has the skills and experience to “hit the ground running.”

“We have a really great team of people here and we pride ourselves on having a culture of growth.”

You might be thinking, “But what if I spend all this time and money to develop this employee then they leave.” Well, know that while people may ultimately come to work for you because of the money, they will stay, or leave, because of your culture. 

Creating a culture of growth and development is a great way to demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow and can speak to the policies and procedures that you have in place to encourage growth, you’ll be in a great position to attract top talent. As you evaluate or create your ideal culture, keep in mind that you want a work environment that is defined by respectfulness, transparency, and fairness.

In this competitive job market, the costs of making wrong hiring decisions, or hesitation in the face of potential growth is staggering. Identifying, vetting, attracting (and being attractive to) the best candidates has never been more important or more difficult.

Fortunately, Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters are here to help. Not only can we keep your practice running at capacity, but we can also help you build the ultimate dream team. Talk to your Account Manager or contact the Recruiting Department at RecruitingServices@ConsultYHN.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

The 5 Keys to Successful Hiring

Every business owner is excited about growth. You’ve cultivated and nurtured your practice well, have done all the right things and are ready to take it to the next level. This usually involves expanding your staff and that means investing in additional human capital – hiring.

Small business owners don’t hire new employees every day and the thought of screening, interviewing, and selecting employees can be daunting. But if you pay attention to these five keys, you will maximize your chances of attracting and developing the best new talent for your practice.

 

1. Know what you are looking for

Preparation is always a strong precursor to success. Invest the time to understand the role you’re looking to fill as it relates to the skills necessary to do the job (think of skills as the things we all learn—both through work experience and formal education) and think about how to test and vet those skills. In addition to skills, you should also consider a candidate’s attributes or traits. These are the qualities that are “hard-wired” into a person’s DNA. While most skills can be taught or developed it can be very difficult to develop a person’s attributes. Finally, think about the culture you have and how a candidate will fit into that culture.

 

2. Always be on the lookout for talent

Once you know what you need, you may find yourself assessing everyone you meet. That’s a good thing. Leverage relationships, chance encounters, and business meetings. You never know where you may find your next star employee.

 

3. Listen

You should not be doing most of the talking in an interview. Sometimes we concentrate too much on the information we want to provide and not enough on getting the information we need. Asking good questions becomes meaningless if we are not listening to the answers and asking good follow-up questions.

 

4. Think about WHY someone would want to come to work for you

Unemployment is as low as its been in a long time. Talented candidates will have multiple options. Be ready to promote your practice as an employer of choice. You should always have a great answer when a candidate asks, “Why should I come to work for you?”

 

5. Take the time to onboard

Even if you execute the above items flawlessly it won’t matter if you don’t take the time to onboard new employees. Remember to set expectations, model great behavior, provide a lot of feedback, and coach your employees.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll maximize your chances hiring and retaining the best talent out there!

Of course, if you need a partner in guiding you through the process, trust the experts in hearing healthcare recruiting—Consult YHN’s recruiters!

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.