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How should I select employees for my facility?

July 21, 2009
by Susan D. Gilster and Jennifer L. Dalessandro
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If you are simply filling staffing holes with “warm bodies,” please understand this will cost you far more down the road. Existing, dedicated staff are tired of working with and mentoring new employees who don’t care—and who loyal staff know will not last. In addition, the financial cost is very high. While it does not hit the bottom-line in a specific financial line item, the average turnover in a community housing 200 residents can cost in the neighborhood of a million dollars per year! Please allow us to help—we will gladly show you how to cut that in half in a year and you can share with us the savings! Of course you have to want to change and it takes commitment on the part of the leadership team.





Selecting staff is a process that requires careful attention and a consistent plan. Many mechanisms exist to eliminate the rapid turnover all too often seen in assisted living and long-term care. The first step is the application process.





Applicants should fill out the application in an area that can be observed by someone on your staff, perhaps the receptionist. Train the observer to note the candidate’s actions and behaviors. How does the potential employee conduct himself/herself? Do they fall asleep while filling out the paperwork or waiting for an interview—it happens! Are they out the door every other minute to have a cigarette? Are they constantly on their cell phone? Do they address residents and other staff in the environment when they pass by? This is a time when prospective employees should “shine.” If they don’t act appropriately at this time, you will likely not be able to change those behaviors once they are hired.





Carefully screen and review the application. If the potential employee has been employed by many facilities in the past year or two, it is unlikely they will be staying with you very long. Such an applicant is not worth the time to interview. Simply put them aside and let another facility take a chance





Once you have selected appropriate applicants, call and request an interview. Remember, selecting new employees should be a multiple step process—not just an immediate interview with one department director who then hires a new employee at the same time. By requiring a separate and official interview at a later date you are evaluating, among other things: 1) the applicant’s true interest in working at your specific facility; 2) the applicant’s ability to schedule a formal interview and their ability to follow-through and attend the interview on time; and 3) the ability to allow at least 2 department directors the opportunity to interview the applicant.





Our next column will focus on the interview process.

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