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.

How You React to the Current Circumstances Could Define the Future of Your Business

What do you get when you mix a global pandemic + unprecedented unemployment + peaceful protests for social justice mixed with destructive riots? The answer: a world in crisis mode. How does that make you feel? Defeated? Like there’s nothing that you can personally do to change the course of events? Of course, we all feel that way to a certain extent. It’s the easiest, most natural reaction to everything that’s happening. So, then I ask myself, “what can we tell Associates to keep their staff motivated?” When their business has been significantly impacted and they’re considering how to keep the business afloat, what should they access? What steps should they take and what changes should they make immediately? What can they do to bounce back? And, how does a setback impact overall goals for the year?

The conclusion that I have come to is comprised of two things:

  1. Stay positive and motivated
  2. Focus on what you can control

Staying Positive and Motivated

Staying positive (and motivated) amid a crisis is difficult, but it can be done. When is the last time that you paused to think about why you do what you do?  How often do you share that with your staff? Do you have a mission statement? Does it effectively communicate your passion for helping people to sustain a higher quality of life? During this crisis, healthcare and connections with loved ones are more important than ever. While hearing may not be a life or death matter, it is directly linked to mental health and cognition. Has there ever been a time in recent history when it is more important for anyone, especially patients in our target demographic, to do all they can to preserve a sound mind (no pun intended)? So, start by reminding yourself of why you do what you do, and communicate that to your co-workers. After you do, you might find that their reactions will inspire and motivate you in return.

Focus on What You Can Control

Next, we need to remember that there are factors we can control and factors that are out of our control. Let go of the items that are out of your control and focus on the three items that you can control:

  1. The thoughts you think
  2. The images you visualize, and
  3. The actions you take.

Every person in the practice can control certain aspects of their day, including how they interact with patients. There will come a time (or several times) that we all need to take a good look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we did everything that we could to help our patients move forward with hearing treatment. Keeping in mind those items that we can control, I’ve compiled a checklist for some of the key players in the practice:

Checklist for Front Office Professionals:

  • Proper phone etiquette
  • Triage to determine the proper action (remote care, curbside service, or an appointment)
  • Identify out of warranty patients requesting service and schedule the appointment appropriately
  • Convert opportunity calls into appointments
  • Ask for a Third Party (companion) for every opportunity appointment (in-person or virtually)
  • Follow confirmation protocols to minimize no-shows and last-minute cancellations
  • Identify areas where you could sharpen your skills and ask for help

Checklist for Providers:

  • Follow a sales process to ensure consistent inpatient experience
  • Conduct the evaluation using the Third Party (companion), whether in-person or virtually
  • Make a solid recommendation for the solution if hearing loss is identified
  • Provide “Care After No” by conducting tested-not-treated follow-up phone calls
  • Provide “Care After Yes” by conducting follow-up calls to patients who chose to accept treatment
  • Ask for testimonials and referrals
  • Identify areas where you could you sharpen your skills to motivate patients into a treatment plan and ask for help

Checklist for Owners/Directors of Operations:

  • Define the business’ strategy for utilizing remote care, curbside services, and in-person appointments
  • Routinely review your financial situation: monthly P&L review and weekly or bi-weekly update of the cash-flow analysis/projections
  • Implement tracking procedures for opportunity creation and other key performance indicators
  • Amend your marketing budget and plan considering the altered circumstances
  • Implement a block schedule that reserves time for enough opportunities to reach the business’ financial goals
  • Monitor the block schedule for compliance and achievement
  • Communicate responsibilities and practice goals with the staff
  • Utilize the daily huddle to create a culture of accountability and teamwork
  • Encourage staff development by offering opportunities for skill development
  • Celebrate wins/achievements
  • Identify areas where you could sharpen your skills as a leader/manager and ask for help

In the chaos of our world today, we know that the hearing industry will continue to change and fluctuate, but we also know that more and more patients continue to struggle from hearing loss.  The changes in society and our industry are out of our control. The number of patients seeking help for hearing loss in these crazy times is also out of our control. However, our actions in response to the people who are seeking help are 100 percent within our control. By tackling this checklist, you can be confident that you are doing everything you can to effectively provide a solution for your patients’ hearing challenges. If and when you ask for help, rest assured that Consult YHN has the knowledge, skills, resources, and experience to guide you through any and all of the items on this checklist. We, too, are focusing on what we can control so that we can help you to do the same. Taking these steps together should give us all peace-of-mind that our businesses will continue helping more people hear well – both now and in the future.

About the Author

Dr. Kari Londo joined Consult YHN in 2019 with more than 12 years of experience as a clinical Audiologist. She received her doctoral degree in Audiology from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Kari has a deep understanding of the hearing industry, having previously worked directly with patients in private practice and ENT, as an Account Manager for a hearing aid manufacture, and now on the business side as a Consult YHN Account Manager. She is passionate about improving the lives of individuals with hearing loss and helping hearing practices grow by helping these individuals. When she’s not working, Kari can be found playing volleyball, socializing with friends, or enjoying the outdoors.

Telehearing Care: Party Like it’s 2020

In the March/April 2020 issue of Audiology Today, the magazine published by the American Academy of Audiology, an article titled, “Party Like it’s 1999,” featured a comparison of 1999 predictions on the future of the audiology profession from top leaders in audiology with today’s 2020 professional status. Revealing their hindsight perspective on those predictions, the authors humbly and humorously fessed-up to whether they were on or off the mark of where audiology would be 20 years into this new millennium. The reflection views on the then versus now are enlightening.

Lisa Hunter, Ph.D., professor at the University of Cincinnati, cautiously remarked that 20 years ago she predicted that the doctoral status of audiologists would grow slowly into the title through the integration of evolved procedures that define best practices in audiology. Unfortunately, commenting on her current students’ externship experiences, she indicated that to her things had not progressed in hearing care at all stating, “By and large, these students are witnessing audiology practices similar to what I saw 30 or more years ago.” The tone in the statement reflects caution in the lack of progression in the profession. In a similar light, David Fabry, Ph.D., Editor in Chief of Audiology Today, commented that, “Telemedicine is easier than ever and yet clinicians have not adopted it widely as a means to combat commoditization of their role in hearing health care.”

Dr. Fabry’s sentence springboards the discussion of, “Can I still party like it’s 1999 in 2020?” Well, “not really” is the answer. However, you can party like it’s 2020 in 2020.

The hearing healthcare environment is rapidly changing, and hearing care providers must change with it. The best way to adapt is to implement modern methods of providing services. Utilizing technology in the form of Your Telehearing Care is the most logical and easiest method to pursue. There are so many reasons why this modern method of hearing healthcare can benefit a practice and the patients they serve.
First and foremost, preparing for the now. When limiting the exposure of human contact is required, such as with COVID-19, the use of smartphones for remote basic programming and counseling is a huge benefit for patients. However, the ability to examine patients to determine needs or to apply sophisticated programming adjustments requires patient access to in-clinic services. With Your Telehearing Care, minimal human exposure is achieved. Essentially, a practice owner or provider, centralized at home or at a main office, can perform 360º of audiology services to new and current patients located at another practice site with the help of only one other person in the office where the patient is located. By combining minimal physical contact with proactive infection control procedures, a clinic can adhere to best practices in a safe environment. Approaching business operations the same way as in 1999 isn’t viable in today’s hearing healthcare payor landscape.  Seniors continuously move from private pay to third party payor/administrator (TPA) entities, as made evident by expanding Medicare Advantage enrollment over the past decade. At the same time, networks that manage the hearing aid benefits from the TPAs entice enrollment by offering significantly reduced and inclusive hearing aid pricing to their members with the members purchasing the hearing aids directly from them. The in-network provider simply receives a dispensing fee to deliver and service the hearing aids. In order ensure a successful business today and in the future, clinicians must modernize operations by maximizing schedule efficiency and utilizing human resources effectively while maintaining quality patient care. Your Telehearing Care is the solution to navigate this modern landscape. Another 1999 tradition still prevalent today is that practice owners service patients who travel up to 90 minutes one-way to receive care or the owner/employee travels a similar amount of time to a satellite office to provide services in that area. The question is “Why?” Isn’t that what we did 30 years ago? Windshield time is a significant obstacle to a productive day, and can have negative side effects for both the provider and the patient.
Driving a long distance in order to make it on time to an appointment typically includes time-robbing obstacles – bad weather, heavy traffic, needing to stop to refuel, etc. And, senior patients face additional personal challenges including eyestrain fatigue from poor eyesight, frequent stops due to incontinence issues, and securing transportation for the trip if they don’t drive themselves. The inconvenience of extensive travel for anyone promotes negative emotional side effects of increased anxiety, stress, fatigue, and frustration.
Implementing Your Telehearing Care within hearing care clinics stops bugs on windshields…and more. Patients welcome innovations in healthcare, especially amidst COVID-19, that are designed to secure their safety while maintaining comfort, convenience, and quality of care. Complete 360º audiology and hearing care, delivered interactively from provider to patient, enables providers to continue to be the experts in hearing healthcare now and in the future. Survey responses from patients who have experienced Your Telehearing Care are overwhelmingly positive regardless of age of patient. Let’s get the party started.  

About the Author

Suzanne Younker, Au.D. is a 30-year audiologist with extensive experience in Quality Assurance, Customer Service, and Operations in the corporate environment. In the past 7-years, Dr. Younker has devoted her career to cultivating full-service TeleHealth/TeleAudiology methods in the hearing healthcare industry including research, education, protocol development, implantation, provider and facilitator training, and patient engagement techniques. Currently, Dr. Younker is the Director of TeleHealth for Your Hearing Network, leading a team with a turnkey solution for a modern method of healthcare towards a successful outcome for your practice.

How to Lead Productive Company Meetings Online

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) forces more employees to work from home, businesses are adapting to new remote work business models as quickly and effectively as possible. Many of you are already adjusting to a workforce that performs some duties at home. Although technology makes this process easier, organizations are looking for ways to replicate their in-office culture, including moving face-to-face meetings to audio and video conference calls.
Technology-based meetings are not always the easiest to conduct, especially if you’re not accustomed to them. It can be more difficult to make sure everyone has a chance to speak up, to read body language, and/or to make sure that each attendee is paying full attention. We all know how easy it is to check email or browse online when no one can see you. So, if you conduct virtual meetings the same exact way you do in-person meetings, the result will likely be less engagement and therefore an inefficient use of your team’s time. By following these two simple steps, you can run productive video meetings where employees remain attentive, contribute, and finish the call ready to get things done.

1. Set clear expectations.

It’s important for the leader to set basic ground rules, such as asking attendees to join the call on time, closing out email and internet browsers, keeping their video on, and muting their microphones when they are not speaking. You might consider instructing employees to raise their hands when they want to contribute or ask questions. Setting clear expectations sets the tone for your team to be engaged, and shows that you respect their time and perspective.

2. Focus on dialogue and interactions.

During your virtual meeting, you’ll be sharing information just like you would in a face-to-face meeting. The information flow should be two-way — it is essential to encourage questions and discussion from all attendees. When planning the meeting, structure the agenda to discourage any one person from dominating the conversation. Predetermine which team members might be subject matter experts with information valuable to the group.
Now that we’ve discussed what you can do to ensure that your virtual meetings are as productive as your in-person meetings, let’s focus on one of the most important meetings: the Company Meeting. It’s likely that you’ve already led at least one Company Meeting to discuss the COVID-19 situation. Your staff members are living through uncertain times and are starving for information. Over the next several months, you’ll need to meet regularly with your entire team to discuss what’s happening currently (in your practice as well as the industry, your city/state, and the rest of the world), and what needs to happen moving forward. If your practice is currently closed, then your first Company Meeting upon reopening will be crucial in setting the stage for how your practice will emerge from this crisis and be successful in the future.
There are several key topics that Owners should cover during their upcoming Company Meetings:
  • The Current State: Where is our practice now and how are we preparing to come out of the pandemic?
  • The Future State: Where is the industry headed and what’s our company vision for how we will thrive?
  • The “New” Customer: How do we prepare for customers who may think differently about their needs and expectations? How will they define value?
  • The Comeback Plan: What are our steps to get back on track, and what are the expectations for each team member’s contributions moving forward?
  • Goals for 2020: What are the revised annual targets, and how do we plan to ramp up and recover lost business?
  • KPI Tracking: What are the key indicators that identify how we’re tracking progress toward our desired goals?
  • Mindset: How do we need to change the way we think about how we do our jobs?
  • Individual Productivity: How do we increase and track productivity while maintaining high levels of patient care?
  • Training: How do we ensure each staff member continues to develop his/her skills to be as efficient as possible while prioritizing patient care?

Consistency of communication is critical, so you should hold these meetings on a routine basis. Partner with your Consult YHN Account Manager to develop a schedule that works best for you and your team.

In future Company Meetings, revisit the same themes:

  • Discuss industry updates and the impact on the business
  • Reinforce the importance of what you do for patients
  • Reinforce the emergence of the “new” patient and his/her changing expectations
  • Emphasize what the goals are and how the practice is performing against those goals
  • Review your comeback plan and adjust as necessary
  • Emphasize everyone’s role in achieving the plan
  • Motivate your staff to reach the practice’s goals together as a team

As Owners and leaders, communication with your team is the most important element in helping your staff work through this crisis. Their lives have changed and they’re looking to you to lead them through the uncertainty. Their ability to handle anxiety and fear about the future is affected by what you say and how you act in navigating through an uncertain future. Right now, your words must lead to action. Now more than ever, your staff needs to know the “why” behind what they do to give purpose to their work and exemplary service to your patients.

If you have any questions about how to effectively conduct your Company Meetings, reach out to your Account Manager for guidance!

About the Author

Kenneth Gregory joined Consult YHN in 2014 and currently serves as a Training Manager in the West Region. He is a retail veteran, having previously worked for such giants as Target, Starbucks, and CVS in multiple leadership roles. Ken rarely puts pen to paper but is always thinking about how to make businesses thrive by leveraging the best asset within their four walls: their people. He works with field staff but is equally comfortable in front of audiology practice employees at all levels. Ken also loves an audience and enjoys being a classroom facilitator. While taking topics like this seriously, Ken likes to laugh at himself on occasion. However, his greatest gift might be his ability to get his three-month-old grandson to laugh.

Block Scheduling: Questions to Ask Yourself Now to Prepare for the Future

When building our new home, the first thing they put down was the foundation. Homes in Texas aren’t built with basements, so pouring a concrete slab seemed like it should’ve been a quick and easy process. But it took two whole weeks while I watched the contractors level, spread tension cables, pour the concrete, and conduct four inspections. I didn’t realize that Texas had such sandy and shifting soil. The proper slab, while not the most glamorous part of my home, was both the most complicated and essential piece. Without it, our beautiful new home wouldn’t be able to stand the test of time.

A hearing clinic is no different. Your business needs a sturdy foundation to withstand the shifting sands of an ever-changing industry. And few things have changed both the industry and business, in general, more than the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The foundation of a practice’s success is its schedule. It provides the template for growth and helps to drive revenue and profit. The Consult YHN Block Schedule has been the bedrock of practices for over 25 years, and the need now is greater than ever. Although times have certainly changed, our Block Schedule process is both structured and flexible enough to remain a business-standard.

As part of a comprehensive comeback plan, Owners need to:

  1. Determine the “catch up” goals necessary to recover lost business and hit their revised 2020 financial targets.
  2. Calculate the number of revenue-generating appointments (or opportunities) required to recover the lost revenue and achieve the full year targets.
  3. Create the scheduling capacity to best serve customers and reach those goals.

The Block Schedule serves as the visual representation of the structure necessary to make your comeback plan work. Without it, practices risk making an uncertain financial situation even worse.

The Block Scheduling process is time-tested with proven results. The post-COVID-19 customer might have understandable concerns about being in close proximity to others in a waiting room. Practices must be sensitive to these concerns, and work with their Consult YHN Account Manager to determine how to address them.

When it comes to scheduling, below are items you should consider…

As you revise the Block Schedule template…

  • Do I need to think differently about the space in my waiting room? How should I schedule appointments to limit social contact?
  • Do I need to create different types of appointments to meet the needs of different patients where some are comfortable in my waiting room and some are not? How many onsite appointments do I need? How many virtual ones?
  • Do I eliminate walk-in hours to prevent multiple people from showing up at the same time and crowding my waiting room? Or do I leverage technology to conduct virtual walk-in hours and minimize customer overlap?
  • Is Telehealth a necessity for my business and my patients right now?
  • How long should each appointment be?

When implementing the Block Schedule…

  • What does my patient prioritization process need to look like? Where do I place new patients, existing patients, Out of Warranty patients, and repairs? Does everyone on my staff know the importance of each opportunity type?
  • Have I set expectations with my staff about having a sense of urgency to fill the opportunities on my schedule?
  • Are we using a waiting list to pull appointments forward to fill opportunities and to better serve our patients?
  • Should I think differently about having a companion for appointments? Should I require onsite Third Party companions, or should I also consider using video technology such as FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Hangouts?
  • How do we minimize no-shows and cancellations? Is my current process for confirming appointments effective?
  • Is my front office staff attending Consult YHN teletrainings to sharpen their skills on the Block Scheduling process?
  • How can learning and following the Professional Sales Presentation (PSP) allow my providers to effectively use appointment time and maximize the schedule’s potential?

When monitoring the effectiveness of your revised scheduling procedures…

  • Am I using the Daily Huddle to monitor staff behaviors and track scheduling outcomes?

At Consult YHN, we’re helping our Associates prepare their schedules to thrive in this new business environment. For many Owners, implementing a Block Schedule may have been uncomfortable or considered unnecessary in the past. But due to COVID-19, many “nice to do” processes are now “must do.”

The most successful practices will be the ones who commit now to making the changes needed for success in the future. Defining and implementing a Block Schedule will help you recover lost business and position your practice for long term success.

Contact your Account Manager to create your Block Schedule today!

About the Author

Kenneth Gregory joined Consult YHN in 2014 and currently serves as a Training Manager in the West Region. He is a retail veteran, having previously worked for such giants as Target, Starbucks, and CVS in multiple leadership roles. Ken rarely puts pen to paper but is always thinking about how to make businesses thrive by leveraging the best asset within their four walls: their people. He works with field staff but is equally comfortable in front of audiology practice employees at all levels. Ken also loves an audience and enjoys being a classroom facilitator. While taking topics like this seriously, Ken likes to laugh at himself on occasion. However, his greatest gift might be his ability to get his three-month-old grandson to laugh.