In 2014, Northeast Residence created a Staff Retention and Recruitment Committee with the goal of retaining and recruiting quality employees. In an effort to learn about what is important to our employees, recently Northeast Residence asked employees to complete an employee survey. I know from research and personal experience that providing input and having a voice is very important for all of us. We received about a 60% return on these surveys, which is actually an excellent return for this type of survey. I thank each and every one of you that filled these out. As of today I have read every single one of these that have been returned. If you as an employee still have a copy, please feel free to fill it out and drop it off or send it back in the mail. If you need a new one, please contact HR at 651-765-0217.
The return rate is a positive sign, and the content of these completed surveys is even more important. If you are interested to know what the questions we asked and the answers we received, continue reading on as I will summarize this below. Please understand that I cannot print every response as that would be a really long article, but I will summarize what I believe to be the major themes and highlight some of the constructive feedback here as well.
Question – What brought you to work for Northeast Residence? Most people responded that they were referred by someone who worked here, or they saw an ad and others were looking for a position that would supplement their income and/or wanted to do something meaningful for work.
Question – Do you have the tools that enable you to do your job effectively? If not, what tools do you feel would be helpful, for example, supplies, resources, equipment? The overwhelming majority of the people answered that they have what they need, or if they ask their manager they get what they need. A few people gave concrete examples of things they need – a toilet brush, a GPS unit for the vans would be nice, an ID badge would be helpful, and more games for the people we serve. Others responded that training and support is very helpful, sometimes supplies are needed and the Supervisor is good about getting them, a weekend supervisor would be helpful, and my boss is responsive to my requests. Some mentioned pay. More on pay is below.
Question – What is most important to you in your work at Northeast Residence? Here as we would expect, the number one answer over and over is the people we serve. Many people highlighted their Supervisor and co-workers as well.
Question – Do you feel valued for the work you do at Northeast Residence? The majority of the people that responded said yes, they feel very valued by the actions and appreciation they receive by working with the people they serve. Some said, no, they do not feel valued and/or a raise would be nice. While it is hard to read the response from someone that does not feel valued, it is important to hear. I ask that you communicate with your Supervisor and have a discussion about what we could do differently. I know for some it is as simple as more money and for some it is more than that. We are doing what we can to communicate to legislators about the need for an increase. My door is always open to have a more in depth discussion as well.
Question – Why do you choose to stay at Northeast Residence? The people we serve is the number one reason people stay working here.
As I mentioned, what is printed here is the summary of the responses received. Now, what will we do with these results? As I said, I have read every one. It is important to listen to the voices of the people who work here and are committed to the people they serve. We will share these results in aggregate – meaning a summary of the results at the next management meeting. This was an anonymous survey so I feel that sharing the results in aggregate is important to protect the integrity of the anonymity that we promised. Where there are specific concerns or suggestions we will follow up with those (i.e. games for people we serve, looking into GPS units for vans). For all employees, I want you to know that we are working on asking the legislature for a 5% increase. We will be bringing a group to the Capitol on April 5 to meet one on one with legislators that represent our homes. We will provide details of the experiences of the people that work here and the people we serve. We will explain who we are, who we serve and tell them how the impact of short staffing and turnover has on our employees and the people we serve. We ask that you also write your legislators and tell them how you feel.
For those that suggested specific supplies for their sites, I ask that you also share these needs with your Supervisor. I have asked and will continue to ask site Supervisors to ask this question of the staff that work in the homes. Some of these requests can be fulfilled right away – such as a toilet brush or other supplies that are needed. Some of these items such as GPS units and ID cards –I will be doing research about the cost and viability of this request and given that these devices are somewhat costly, it is likely that these will need to be added to the list for fundraising.
We hope that you enjoyed reading about the results of our survey. The leadership at NER – the Board and staff Leadership – believes very strongly in supporting our employees. We strive for NER to be the company that people want to work for. In this economy where job seekers have a lot of choices, we do have a staff shortage – we are not the only provider in this situation. Pick up a newspaper and read the headlines, there are many about the workforce shortage in the caregiving profession. As I have said before, this does not just cause us to sit back and take it or accept that is the answer. We are working toward ensuring our employees feel valued for the work that they do and to make this the company that people who work in caregiving want to work for.
Thank you to all who took the time to complete our survey – we value the input. We will do this again late in the fall or early in the year. If at any time you have feedback as a staff or family member, loved one, or friend of Northeast Residence, please know we are open to your feedback as well. If anyone would like more information about additional training, the Northeast Residence Scholarship program, employment, advancement opportunities, please speak to the site Supervisor and they can get you additional information.
I do want to finish by highlighting a number of Initiatives in addition to getting feedback from our employees intended to recruit and retain employees: manager in training program; monthly train the trainer class; adding two Assistant Program Director positions to support the sites with needs that arise and support for staff; creating the position of “lead” at some sites; examining our teams and ensuring they are working together effectively; looking at our on-boarding process, we changed the way we allocate our referral bonus (so the money is split up and delivered sooner to the employee who referred them); we have signs and flyers around town that indicate we are hiring, and many other ideas in consideration to stream line the work that is required of our regulations and recruiting employees and retaining employees. We are open to suggestions in this area.
For staff appreciation week, we were able to secure some one-time funds to celebrate Employee Appreciation Week at NER which is April 1 – April 10 (note it is longer than 7 days to try to capture as many employees as possible). Among the activities for the week, we have asked our management staff to recognize their staff individually to show their appreciation. In addition, we will have giveaways and the names will be drawn on April 7. All direct care staff employed on this day will be entered into the drawing. We will have a number of things we are giving away such as Twins Tickets; a Kindle Fire; movie tickets, gas cards, restaurant gift certificates, cooler bags with the NER logo that will have some give-aways in them. Each employee has a 1 in 3 chance of winning a prize/giveaway. This does not alone solve our turnover problem or allow us to give across the board raises, our intent is to create some excitement and appreciate the people who work here. We will continue to ask the legislature for an increase and ask that you do as well.
Finally, I realize that this newsletter goes to more than employees at NER – it also goes to the greater community, but I feel it is important for all of us in the NER community to understand where we are and what we are doing to retain and recruit quality staff. Please reach out to me if you have any concerns and I encourage you to reach out to each other and to the staff that serves the people you love and let them know you appreciate them as well. Let your friends and family know that we are hiring – word of mouth is the number one way we have been able to recruit employees.
Last month we announced that our Minnesota home is moving to Currie. I want to thank all of the dedicated employees of NER that volunteered their time to make this a successful move to our beautiful home on Currie Street in Maplewood.
When the weather is officially Spring, we will be holding an Open House and the date will be announced in the newsletter. This was a day filled with moving, unpacking, teamwork, getting to know each other, and joy in seeing the four people we serve in this program welcomed to their new home.
Have a great month and enjoy this early spring!
Heidi Holste, Executive Director