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2002 Salary Survey: Motivating staff, reducing stress: Important for managers
Communication, recognition, and support key to success with staff
With all of the changes and new job pressures experienced by home health employees in just the past few years, how do managers stay energized and motivated? Just as important, how do they inspire their staff members to do the same?
Almost 73% of the respondents to the 2002 Hospital Home Health Salary Survey have worked in health care for more than 21 years and more than 36% of respondents have been in home health for more than 21 years.
While these employees have seen the most dramatic changes of all home health employees and may experience more stress as a result of the changes, experts interviewed by HHH say that the more experienced employees are not hard to motivate.
"It is my experience that people who stay in home health really love this area of practice," says Theresa E. Uhl, RN, BSN, nurse manager of Southern Home Care in Jeffersonville, IN.
Salary levels, benefits, recognition programs, and a good relationship among employees are important for retention of employees, but the bottom line is that people have to like home health to stay in it, she explains. (See, "How Long Have You Worked in Home Health?")
Recognize your veterans’ contributions
One way to motivate your "veteran" employees is to make sure they are recognized for their experience, says Greg Solecki, vice president of Henry Ford Home Health Care in Detroit. "We call upon our experienced employees to act as mentors because they have valuable information and tips to share," he says. "Mentoring also reminds them of their special qualities for which they are appreciated," he adds.
Another way to motivate staff members and identify areas in which there may be problems that are creating stress or lowering morale, is to make sure your lines of communications are open, Uhl says.
"A number of obstacles we face as managers are caused by communications problems. You can remove some of those obstacles by increasing the levels of communications," she suggests.
"At Southern Home Care, we have a morning report at which we meet as a team to plan our day. Managers, clinical staff, and intake staff meet to listen to on-call report, plan for admissions, problem solve on special issues, and share a joke of the day,’" Uhl says.
At this meeting, special recognitions are given to team members who go above and beyond the call of duty and the goals of the agency are reviewed to make sure everyone stays focused, she adds.
"There is also a Friday team meeting for the weekend team," Uhl explains.
"The group that is working the weekend prepares for the task ahead so that everyone has input on assignments, on-call duties, and patient problems," she says.
Working more hours
Recognizing employees for a job well done is essential for motivation. With home health employees and managers working increasing numbers of hours, it is important to reward them for their extra efforts.
Only 18% of the salary survey respondents report working 40 hours or less during a week, while almost 41% report working between 46 and 50 hours per week. Nine percent of survey respondents report working more than 51 hours each week. (See, "How Many Hours A Week Do You Work?")
Reducing the burden of paperwork
With an increasing amount of time required for paperwork, Henry Ford Home Health Care has promised, in writing, to staff members that managers and administration will be proactive in trying to reduce regulatory burdens and pursue technological advancements that will improve processes, Solecki says.
"We expect our employees to be happy doing the right thing in their job and have fun while they work," he says.
"We have also promised to acknowledge the goodness of our employees and celebrate their accomplishments," Solecki adds.
An employee recognition committee at Henry Ford, comprised of employees from all levels and areas of the agency, is charged with making sure that employees are recognized for their efforts, Solecki explains.
"Quarterly potluck dinners with games and prizes, quarterly employee awards for continuing education and quality improvement efforts, and an annual employee appreciation luncheon are a few of the activities the recognition committee oversees," he says.
"A group of Southern Home Care employees, known as the Southern Comfort Group, plan social events such as an annual chili cook-off, a Christmas ornament exchange, and a death by chocolate’ party, that help us relax and not take life too seriously," Uhl says. (See, "How Long Have You Worked in Health Care?")
Salaries aren’t motivators
Salaries for survey respondents mostly increased, with the exception of 4.5% of respondents who reported a decrease, but the majority (almost 82%) of increases were between 1% and 6%. More than 13% of respondents reported increases between 7% and 15%.
While competitive salaries are important for attracting new employees and for on-call pay, it is more important to employees to have a good relationship with senior staff, Uhl says.
"Competitive salary and benefits are necessary, but are not the prime motivators or contributors to retention success," Solecki adds.
"We have found that the important areas on which to focus for motivation are cultural in nature. Our staff wants Henry Ford Home Health to be an agency for which they are proud to work because we exhibit integrity and a respect for doing the right thing," he explains. (See, "In the Past Year, How Has Your Salary Changed?")
Retention is not a problem at Henry Ford. The average employee’s length of service is 5.5 years, he says.
Not all respondents to the 2002 salary survey work in a hospital-affiliated agency. Almost 73% of respondents do work for an agency affiliated with a hospital, but other respondents report working for freestanding agencies or city and county health departments.
No matter which type of agency is your employer, it is important to know that administration supports the home health agency, Uhl says.
"Our hospital administration considers our agency to be an important part of its mission and their support has been invaluable for increasing staff morale," she adds. (See, "What Best Categorizes Your Work Environment?")
Learn how to find balance in your life
Once you’ve taken care of addressing the issues that create stress for your employees and you find ways to motivate them, take a few moments to alleviate your own stress and get excited about what you do, Solecki says.
"Management stress is a serious issue, but there are a few things that can help energize us," he explains. "First, remember to count your blessings. Things can always be worse, and we need to keep things in perspective," Solecki says.
"Second, surround yourself with good people by hiring staff members who fit the agency’s culture and will make it easy to succeed and have fun," he adds.
"The third task is to find a balance between family, friends, fun, and work. Our industry can eat you up, but you need to remember that sometimes you have to leave it at work," Solecki says.
Get out in the field
Solecki’s final suggestion for administrators, directors, and managers is to make a home visit.
"Home visits remind us of our mission and give us an opportunity to better understand staff issues and patient concerns. All leaders need to embrace this chance to see why we do what we do. I always return from home visits with a sense of renewed commitment and pride in what we do," he explains.
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