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Relias Vitals+Vision Podcast, Season 1

Episode 5: Onboarding and Retention Strategies

With Vince Baiera, BSN 33 min

Leigh sits down with Vince Baiera, Partner for Post-Acute Care at Relias, to discuss onboarding and retention in health care. Vince shares some best practices in hiring, training, and engaging employees to help retain them in the organization.

About Vince Baiera

Vince Baiera, BSN

Vince Baiera started his career at The Cleveland Clinic and Duke University Hospital as a Cardiothoracic ICU Nurse. Moving on to work as a traveling ICU nurse, Baiera worked in more than 15 hospitals across the U.S. and U.S. Virgin Islands. He went on to become the lead faculty member at Central Nursing College, a one-year, accelerated LPN school. After years of consulting, Baiera switched to the business side of health care and now strives to make a measurable difference by working with organizations to solve their biggest problems around staffing, retention, and patient care.

Baiera is also an international best-selling coauthor of The Nurses Guide to Innovation, which teaches nurses how to develop and launch their business and product ideas. Baiera is also the founder of step2health, which offers proprietary assistive devices for seniors to help them reduce their risk of falls and age in place. The step2health products are sold nationwide with partners like Walmart, Lowe’s, Amazon, CVS, Walgreens, and more. Vince is married and currently lives in San Diego with his wife and twin boys.

Key takeaways

  • [3:23] Vince begins by explaining how focusing on small wins can be the key to cracking the code for better retention.
  • [5:46] Leigh and Vince discuss how targeting particular age groups isn’t necessarily as important as having simpler recruiting and onboarding processes in place that speak to everyone and actually get results.
  • [17:48] Leigh asks Vince about the concept of “job previewing,” and Vince explains why timing is such a critical part of seeing good retention numbers.
  • [30:34] Vince closes by explaining what it is about onboarding and retention that has kept him engaged throughout his career.

Leigh Steiner:

Welcome to the Vitals and Vision podcast. I’m your host Leigh Steiner, a Partner for Behavioral Health Solutions at Relias. In today’s episode, we’ll be discussing the critical aspects of onboarding and retention in healthcare I’m speaking with Vince Baiera a Principle of Post-Acute care at Relias.

He started his career at the Cleveland Clinic and Duke University as a cardiothoracic ICU nurse then moved around working as an ICU nurse in more than 15 hospitals across the U.S. and Virgin Islands. He then went on to become lead faculty member at Central Nursing College, and after years of consulting, he switched to the business side of health care and now works at Relias. He’s also co-authored a book called The Nurse’s Guide to Innovation and also developed proprietary assistive devices for seniors aging in place. Vince tell us a little bit about that before we jump into our discussion.

Vince Baiera:

So, I saw my own grandparents fall getting in and out of bed and of course my time at the bedside working with seniors, I thought, jeez, there’s gotta be a tool to help people in and out of bed. So I created what I believe is the best bedside step out there for older adults or anyone really with mobility issues. We launched the product five years ago. We have seven issued patents domestically, a number of patents internationally. We’ve deployed over 60,000 products. We have over 5,000 reviews with a 4.6 out of five and have just been thrilled at the way we’ve been able to help seniors age in place. And so we expanded the line to a mini and an XL version. And then we made a version for the bathtub to get in and out of a tub easily. So it’s a fun little business that I’ve had on the side and have grown for years now and just allows me to serve more folks as they continue to age in place.

Leigh Steiner:

That’s wonderful. My 97-year-old mom lives with us in our house and I’m gonna go check it out.

Vince Baiera:

Let’s do it.

Leigh Steiner:

Thank you, thank you. All right, well, let’s jump into this topic. And of course, we all know workforce shortage and it’s exacerbated by the pandemic. However, Your focus or one of your focuses here is really on how you hire, train, and engage employees because we know that has a huge effect, just like my shell-hold drivers, right, on their engagement and retention. So let’s start there. What do employees need to know when hiring new employees that will help retain them in the organization?

Vince Baiera:

Well, I’d love to be able to share a silver bullet with you where you snap your finger, you do this one thing, and boom, your problems are solved. But I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is you’ve gotta look for small wins in a number of different places, right? Let’s get 5% better at our description in our job post. Let’s get 6% or 8% better in the way we communicate quickly with these people when they show interest. Let’s get 10% better in the way that we… on board them and the way we level set those expectations as you mentioned there Lee with that story. So, there’s not a single thing, but the hope is, is that through many things, if you be intentional, you can start to see some changes that will ultimately lead to a larger long-term effect in terms of the way you source people, the way you onboard them and that experience, right? Because the first impression that I get when I come to your website is going to tell me a lot. Are you up to date? Are you technology technologically savvy, what kind of experience is everyone else getting? Maybe that’s what I’m going to see, right? That’s what I’m going to experience.

So, the first impression matters so much. Then I hit apply, right? And now how long is it till I get reached out to? How many times do they need to talk to me before I’m offered a contract, right? Is it easy? Is it seamless? Is that how my job’s going to be? Or is it cumbersome and difficult and lengthy and just all the stuff, right? That’s not really fun. In this world where so many options, you know, that was Uber’s big model. Press a button, get a ride. And you hear other companies emulate that. And so if I’m used to that experience, but when I apply with you, it’s way different. Well, you know, I already feel like this is gonna take a long time, right? And so it’s just about being very intentional, being very honest with the way you’re doing things today. And then, really refining each aspect to try to add up to that great long-term result.

Leigh Steiner:

Yeah. So it sounds like one of the things you’re saying is an organization should focus at some level on what age group, I mean, is it the Gen Z group? Is it whatever group you’re trying to attract? Because we probably all respond at some level to different kinds of recruitment.

Vince Baiera:

Not necessarily, right? Because efficiency and time savings will never go out of style. And if you are applying Lee, the same as if I or somebody younger than I applying and it was totally seamless and easy, we would both love it. And so it’s not so much about I need to make, you know, the description read for an older adult or a middle-aged person or a younger person, that may be… might not change quite as much. I do think you need to be intentional about who you’re attracting and be honest, but I think in general, you need to tighten up the process. You need to make it simpler, easier, and less things upfront as barriers, and then more clarity through the process.

So again, it kind of goes back to that direct-to-consumer model, right, with the products that I sell on the side is, You gotta make it as seamless as possible, right? I wanna preemptively answer your questions. I wanna get you interested, so you get you on the phone or you hit apply or add to cart or whatever the case. And then we’ll keep diving through and keep explaining and keep getting you there, right? So it’s one step at a time. We don’t want that first step to be a giant leap. The first step needs to be a baby step and then a little further, right? And a little faster. And let’s keep that momentum we got.

Leigh Steiner:

Yeah. So you’ve talked about, dive in a little deeper there, hiring, training, engaging employees. How do you do that? How do you do it right? What are some of the best practices?

Vince Baiera:

Well, let’s step back and take it in steps, right? Because the first step is hiring. Now I know people listening are gonna say, Vince, you know how tough staffing is right now? I can’t get anybody. If anybody has a pulse, we’ll take them, right? I hear that all the time and I am empathetic to that. I realize that in some circumstances, you gotta take what you can get because the census man is gonna be watching to make sure you got enough people on the floor. and you’d rather have somebody there doing a okay job than somebody not at all. So first and foremost, I want everyone to know I acknowledge that. But with that said, again, let’s just take it in steps. And this goes back to my nursing days, right? When you evaluate someone, you just go head to toe, right? What’s this, what’s that, what’s that? Where’s the problem, right? And so, let’s take it in steps. The first step is your job listing.

Today, people care more as much, let me rephrase that. People care as much about the why and the mission as they do the pay. Sure, the pay has to be competitive. And I wanna go a step deeper for our audience because everybody on the Callers company has a mission statement, right? Two, maybe three sentences that says that big North Star goal. But what I really think what sets the winners apart from the losers is a vivid vision. What I mean by that is, Being able to explain and project out where the organization’s going, not just in a one or two sentence thing. Hey, we’re working to make sure that all of our residents have X, Y, and Z. We’re working to create an environment where diversity, equity, inclusion is the front and center thing. We’re working to do these three things, right? Whatever the case may be. Explaining those things in the job post is gonna connect with somebody, right? It’s going to make me feel like that’s where they’re going, even if you’re a few years out, even if you don’t have the approach nailed down with how you’re going to get there.

If I’ve defined as an organization, the executive leadership specifically, if I’ve defined these things and I can teach them down through the organization, now the recruiters know where we’re going, now that the hiring manager knows where we’re going, now when that person gets hired and their mentor is talking to them, they know where we’re going. So, it’s about creating a bit of a vivid vision that says where the organization needs to be in the coming years. And you use that as a blueprint to communicate through the staff, through your vendors, and through the people you’re hiring. So, when I read a job post and it says, not only are we gonna give you a competitive pay, we’re gonna give you all these benefits so we can at least match what the other guys are doing, but look at all this other stuff we’re doing. we’re working to get here, we’re working to get there, right?

And it’s kind of parsed out per segment of the business, right? So, you’ve got your resident care, you’ve got your amenities, you’ve got the facilities, you’ve got all the different aspects of what the organization’s striving to do. So first and foremost is you’ve got to make sure that description, the first thing someone’s going to see when they’re scrolling through Indeed or whatever other job board, they’re looking at to try to find a home, you’ve got to make sure that it speaks to them. Right? And nobody cares more about that than younger people, because we’ve been fortunate enough to live in a society where we’ve got options and the ability on our phone to just start looking around, start swiping left or right, start figuring out what’s out there that’s going to fit for us. Right? And so, you’ve got to make sure that you’re going to speak to me and you’re going to catch me. You’re going to hook me. Right? You’re going to get me interested. So step one, get your job post right. Get your… hiring team to really make sure that thing is dialed in and that way people are interested. The next thing is when I click apply, what’s the process? Organizations need to be real with themselves. Is there five other steps where I’ve got to hit a button, click next, go next, fill this out, check here, drop down. That’s too much. Hit a button, get a ride. Right?

Vince Baiera:

Hit a button, get a call. You hit this, you automatically get a text. Now what organizations right now can leverage, you know, predictive learning, AI models, chat GPT, this stuff’s moving at a feverish pace in the market. I’m personally working with numerous companies that are implementing tool sets that automate this communication. Now Vince, that’s not personal enough. Yeah, but you’ve got to do less with, or got to do more with less these days, right? So, are you leveraging as an organization technology to go quicker, right? How are you doing that? If I hit a button and the next thing is I get a text from the organization saying, hey, we just saw you applied. Click this link to schedule a call. We wanna talk to you. We’re excited, right? We wanna connect with somebody, right? It’s gotta be about connecting with them that then gets them interested. Because the specs, I already read the specs, the job, the pay, the hours, the day shift, night shift. I already read that.

Now I gotta connect. to see if I think you and I are a good fit. So are you streamlining that? My goal and what I teach people, especially with millennials and younger folks, is the five touch rule. And the faster you can have five touches, when I say a touch, I mean a communication with an individual. First touch is boom, you get a text from me. Hey, when are you free? Boom, the next one is a quick call. We’re not diving into everything. I wanna just do a quick 15-minute call, right? What happens when you open YouTube and that advertisement’s playing and that little skip button comes in the bottom right, right? How often is your thumb right there over top of it that the minute you can skip, you’re ready to move on, right? We’re an immediate society where we want those answers. And so I don’t want that first call to be an hour. I just want it to be like five to 15 minutes. The same whenever I speak to executives, I don’t say, can I get 30 minutes on your calendar? I say, can I get two to five minutes? I don’t need to cover everything with you. I just wanna take that next step with you.

Right, so that first call is, their first touch is the text, the next touch, maybe a very quick call. The next touch is back and forth email. Hey, send me this, send me this, I’m gonna reply with that. Click a button, get a ride. Confirm it, you got it, boom, we’re on to the next stage. Now maybe each interaction is slightly longer, right? And so be honest with yourself. Is that the way your onboarding works? Is it seamless? Is it quick? Are you getting those first five touches within 48 hours? That seems fast, but when I’m unemployed, you bet your butt I wanna get onboarded quickly,

Leigh Steiner:

Yeah.

Vince Baiera:

Right? It’s also gonna show me that you got your stuff together as an employer, that if I’m gonna ask you for something or you’re gonna ask me for something, I’m not gonna wait three to five days to get a response. Right? And so you’re all, the whole time, engaging with this person, you’re closing them. Every step of the engagement from the employer side is a closing action. And so the better you can be at portraying what the long-term experience will be, the more likely that person is to buy in, that, geez, this company, they fit me, they get me, they care about me, right? They wanna take that next step quick. And so there’s lots of things that you can do that’s building out the description. Next is those touches and the way you engage with people. And then you transition to the actual onboarding, right?

So then maybe you’ve got them to a place, everybody signs the form, you say, great, you’re in our next orientation class, it starts on Monday, we can’t wait to have you. Here’s what to bring, right? And so maybe you’ve started to automate some of that legwork. Again, lots of tools out there. You hit a button, three forms get automatically sent. We just need you via DocuSign to click a button and approve it. and boom, we’ve got all the stuff we need from you. I could keep going, Lee, about all the orientation stuff, but maybe I’ll pause there because I did share quite a few tips and tricks around just the initial getting somebody interested and getting them to sign on the dotted line.

Leigh Steiner:

Oh, Vince, that’s great. I mean, those are such wonderful, handy guides for anybody as we listen to it. Think about hiring individual. I love those five touches. That’s really a good model to keep on your bulletin board.

Vince Baiera:

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Leigh Steiner:

Right. Well. Tell me, and maybe we should just jump into the orientation part of it then. I’m excited to hear the next step, so let’s go ahead.

Vince Baiera:

I think there’s that fine line between sharing the truth, which is the good, the bad, and the ugly, versus not scaring someone away. And so, I’m not implying to deceive someone. I’m not implying to withhold information from them. But I would rather someone tell me, there’s going to be rough days. You’re going to have family members that yell at you. You’re going to have patients who forget you. You’re going to have people around you. that ultimately don’t make it. And it’s gonna be tough, it’s gonna be emotionally taxing. That’s why we’re looking for the right person. And that’s why we want to make sure that if you’re gonna start working with us, that you know there’s gonna be tough days. But boy, let me tell you about the good ones.

And let me tell you about all the benefits of this job, the relationships you’re gonna build, the friendships, the way that you can empower people, the way you can give them a voice, the way that you can serve somebody when they’re at their most vulnerable moment. and how that’s gonna fulfill you. Because you can’t get that from flipping a burger. You can’t get that from giving somebody an Uber ride. So we hope that you’re gonna stay on with us. Even though we know going in, there’s gonna be some tough days, right? But just know, we’re gonna be a family. You can come to us. We’ve got support tools. We’ve got ways that you can get help if you need it, right? So, I wanna first and foremost, really be real with somebody, right? Doesn’t that feel good, Lee, whenever I… I sit and I tell you the good, the bad, the ugly, at least you know what you’re working with, right? Not that,

Leigh Steiner:

Yes.

Vince Baiera:

Hey, I’m gonna get stuck working a double because second shift didn’t show up, and that’s not fair, right? And so there’s a craftiness in terms of presenting this in a way that feels okay versus scaring somebody off, but I think you’ve got to be upfront with people. And again, there’s approaches to do this the right way and approaches to do this the wrong way. I think the wrong way is to not tell them or to sugarcoat it because most of us.

Leigh Steiner:

Right. Yeah, I’ve heard about a concept called job previewing, which sounds a bit like what you’re talking about, to make sure that the person, at some point in time of the hiring process, and I guess in some level, orientation is also, if you find out you don’t fit in the orientation process, it’s better to leave then than it is to leave, you know, six months later. But that job previewing is that concept that you’re talking about is that you really do have an idea of what the job is going to be about.

Vince Baiera:

Yeah. And I think it goes back to when’s the right time to do that.

Leigh Steiner:

Yes.

Vince Baiera:

Because if you do it too early and they go, ah, I’m not interested. Well, that’s deflating. If you do it too late, then you’ve invested a bunch of resources and they’ve gotten further down the path and boom, you know, at this point we’ve wasted time and money when we could have weeded these people out. And I think that goes back to being intentional, right? About who you’re speaking to, the individual you’re trying to attract is that And you know, there’s a saying that the best art divides the audience. And in terms of the approach and in terms of the environment, by being intentional and sharing what the job will be, along with what the team, the company is, you should turn some people away. But it in turn should draw people in closer. Right? It’s that old adage that if you’re just trying to appease everyone, you’re just too boring. Is that you really gotta take some strong stances and some people will go, I’m on board with that. And other people are gonna go, that’s not for me, right? But geez, I’d rather do that than three months in after I spent all that time and money.

And so I do think you have to be intentional with what you’re presenting, how you’re presenting it, but being upfront and real with people. Now, to go a step further, let’s pretend we’ve done all that. We’ve got the right person. We’ve got the right people on the bus. They’re interested, they’re excited, they’re starting. Next, I wanna go a step further, right? Let me be intentional about how I’m communicating. Here’s the kicker, Lee, with each person. Right, let me say that again. Let’s be intentional about how we communicate with each person. Vince, we have 20 people in our class, that’s too hard. Figure it out. You better, or else your competitor down the street’s gonna figure it out and they’re gonna eat your lunch. And so, what do I mean by that? Is this an auditory learner, a visual learner, a kinesthetic learner? When they reply to me, do they say, I hear what you mean? They’re saying they’re auditory. I see what you’re getting at. Visual, right? I feel it, I feel you on that. Kinesthetic, right? So how are we presenting information to these people as we’re onboarding them? Especially younger people, right? They care more about this stuff than other older adults They weren’t brought up with the same options, I hate to say it, from my experience.

And so, I just think that when you’re onboarding somebody, be intentional, listen to how they’re replying, try to craft your material so if they’re an auditory learner, there’s an option to consume it that way. If they’re a visual learner, boom, you got it handy for them on a pen and paper, penciled out, right? So on and so forth. So, some of these small things, they just go such a long way. and it’s so hard when you’re busy. And again, I wanna empathize with our audience. I get that you’re working your butts off and you’re busy and Vince, this is so hard to do, but it’s crucial. And just the last thing, Lee, to round out that point that I think really makes a difference is, again, we talked about that immediate gratification society, right? I wanna get to the very, I wanna hit skip on that ad just as quickly as I can and get to the next thing. It’s so hard for somebody when they say, hey, you’re gonna get hired at 15 bucks an hour and good news, you’re gonna be eligible for a raise this time next year. Whoa, this time, I gotta wait a year to get growth? Instead, I wanna paint a picture, especially during the orientation, especially during the hiring process of that career ladder. I wanna paint a picture about where we’re gonna support you, right? Because you’re not here to serve me. You’re not even here to serve the patients, the residents. We’re here to serve you. Now, in our minds, we know that this person has to take care of these residents, these patients. But I want that person feeling like they’re my number one, and in turn, if I support them well, then they’re gonna support that client well, that patient well. And so it’s a very difficult thing to do because it takes. your ego, you have to take your ego out of it when you’re hiring, when you’re the manager. It feels like, well wait, why am I succumbing to your approach? You’re getting hired here, you gotta succumb to our approach. Now I’m not saying change every rule in your book to make everybody happy. What I’m saying is be on their side and let them know you’re here to support them and their growth. That yeah, the patient care stuff, we’ll get to that, that’s gonna come. I wanna see you succeed. So what does that mean? I’ve got to get to know every single person. Because what’s important to Lee might be that she can spend time with her family and her grandkids. What’s important to Vince is that I can get off on Thursdays because I play beach volleyball. And I want to make sure that I’ve got plenty of time to meet up with my friends. If you don’t know that, you can’t tailor your approach to meet each person’s need. And then to build off of that, I think… 90-day goal setting is another thing that’s very hard to do from a time perspective that is crucial to do with your team.

Vince Baiera:

So every 90 days, I know I’m sitting down with Lee and we’re going to talk about where you were, where you’re going, and what’s important.

Leigh Steiner:

Thanks.

Vince Baiera:

And those are the kinds of things that are going to help me as a new employee feel like, geez, I don’t got to wait till next year. Now again, it doesn’t mean I get a raise every 90 days. But Hey Vince, you do a good job your first 90, we’re gonna get you into our CNA2 program. You do a good job your second 90, we’re gonna see if you’re eligible for medication management program. You do good that third one, well boom, you’re really gonna hit our next pay tier because you got these three other certifications. Now I see a path, now I don’t gotta wait a year. I can wait 90 days, and I know that you’re listening to me, and you’ve taken the time to get to know me. So again, hate to be long-winded but I wanted to just keep going as I was on a roll there.

Leigh Steiner:

That was great. You know, one of the things that I hear you doing, which is so fascinating, is turning on its head this allegation that really the younger workforce today is so much more. than the older workforce. I mean, so when I joined, as you sort of say, when I joined, you know, I didn’t have social media that I could go easily sort of find 10,000 other jobs and sort of compare them. There was a particularly difficult time I remember in one of my jobs and somebody said, well, don’t quit over that. you know, don’t look at any other place and I certainly would have had I thought that there were other opportunities.

But you are really turning that on its head and saying this is a good thing because it forces organizations to really invest, not just take for granted, but invest in the human capital that they hire and onboard and train and rely on for their… for their sustenance, for their work, to carry out the mission. I think that’s so critical and important.

Vince Baiera:

Well, we all can, we all know the stats about the staff shortage in health care. And we all know it’s not getting better. It’s getting worse and it will continue to do that. And so if you’re not willing to invest today, I’ve heard it said the most expensive phrase in business is, well, that’s the way we’ve always done it.

Leigh Steiner:

Yes.

Vince Baiera:

So, are you asking yourself that? Are we evolving? Are we changing? Are we pushing ourselves? Are we stretching ourselves? Because the audience today. is different than it was five years ago. And it’s moving faster. The audience in two years will be even different than where it is today. And as we keep going, it’s like that hockey stick that’s really taking off, right? And so technology’s moving so fast and because there’s such a shortage, I don’t need to stay. I know in healthcare, I can go down the street and they’re gonna give me a sign-on bonus, right? And so… It is very difficult, no two ways around it, but you’re right, investing in the human capital and doing the small things will keep people there, right? Because it’s about the relationships most times and jobs when we’re ready to quit that we don’t. Well, gosh, I work with my good friend and geez, we have just such a good team, right? And those are reasons I’ve stayed at jobs is that you love the people you work with, but geez, sometimes management, they just don’t get it, right?

And so how do you get management to say, we wanna serve you as our employee, right? Not you serve the patient, not you serve us, we wanna serve you. And it does take some humility from the leaders who have ascended to their position, and they don’t always have that. And that’s the number one reason when you look at why people leave jobs. One, they feel that their boss is incompetent, or they’ve been disrespected. Two, they don’t have a lot of freedom to kind of make decisions on the fly, still within the confines of the care delivery that’s needed for safe patient care. But you have some of these things that go wrong. And just a small tip on disrespecting people, as I always say is, if you’re going to address a group and you’ve got somebody, say Lee did a great job today, and I’m talking to a big group, I wanna praise specifically to Lee. in front of everyone, guys, I want to call out Lee. She did awesome today because X finds E. But if Lee did poorly and I want to make a point and I’m talking to a group, I better not call you out individually, right? So if I’m going to criticize, it’s going to be generally. Say, guys, I just want to call something out. We’ve seen a few of you make this mistake, do this thing that we shouldn’t have done. I want everybody to make sure we’re not doing that, right? But if I say that Lee did this thing today, guys, and she really put her, you know, made a big mistake, Leigh’s out the door.

Leigh Steiner:

Thank you.

Vince Baiera:

She is like, I am gone, right? And so praise specifically, criticize generally, right? And that’s sometimes one of those small mistakes that you don’t even realize you’re doing. You think, well, let me use this as a learning moment, but you call someone out, ooh, that’s a bad one, right? Because geez, we don’t wanna do anything to get these people to leave, right? And so.

Leigh Steiner:

Yeah, you’re talking about aspects of workplace culture. You wanna dive into that a little more since obviously it’s essential to retaining employees?

Vince Baiera:

I think it starts with the leader, right? And I think it starts with being a bit vulnerable and getting to know people. And the way I like to do that is to tell stories. And I feel like one of my superpowers is being able to relate to folks. And so I’ve started at the bottom as a CNA from a family that wasn’t well off and had to work my butt off. And I’ve ascended to, you know, be in circles where I’m communicating with CEOs and folks like that. everybody in between. And so I like to be able to relate to people, right? And I like to use a little saying called feel felt found. And it’s a great way to show empathy when you’re speaking with somebody is, I know exactly how you feel. You know, Lee, somebody else who worked here, she felt the same way. And what she found was that if you did this and this, this would be your end result, right? It’s a great way to connect with somebody. authentically, right?

Because if you’re just blowing smoke, people are gonna tell. But if you’re willing as the leader to get to know somebody, to relate to them, to slow down and listen to them, it doesn’t cost anything. I didn’t have to rewrite a budget to sit and spend time with you. But if I’m able to connect with you and relate with you and then able to give you some direction on ways that other people have handled some of your frustrations, boy. does that person really warm up to me? I’m not just the boss in the ivory tower who’s making these decisions. You’ve actually taken the time to get to know me. And if I can do that with my employees, what do you think that culture is gonna be like?

Now, it won’t be perfect, it won’t always work out, and then everybody’s happy, but at the end of the day, those are the kinds of things that start to build the culture, right? And it starts with the leader. And then from there, you’ve gotta, I think, do two things, right? You’ve gotta have boundaries. but you’ve got to encourage people to operate and have some independence within those boundaries. Because if I know that I can run wild, well, then that’s not healthy. If I know that I’ve got some independence to make some decisions, as long as I’m within those confines, well, then I feel empowered. And so I think those principles are key things to do to start to build the culture, taking the time to get to know your employees, spending time with them every quarter. knowing what’s important to them, empowering them, but also saying, but we’ve got to make sure we don’t do outside the boundaries, right? There has to be some guardrails. So those are some just core things from a culture standpoint that can start to turn around the ship.

Leigh Steiner:

You had talked about low cost incentives and employee perks, and you’ve addressed some of those in our conversation. Are there any others that you want to offer our listeners right now?

Vince Baiera:

I mean, some of these are things that you can just do that don’t cost any money. I can organize an athletic challenge or a 30-day challenge, right? I used to do this with my students where I would challenge everybody, and they would get bonus points on a test. That this was when we were studying your GI system is to go to a pescatarian diet. So, you don’t have to completely cut out meat, no alcohol. no fried food, and from there pescatarian, right? So, you can eat fish and then the rest vegetarian. And what we found was the people who would buy in would have great weight loss. Even in a month, you’d see people lose 10, 12 pounds, which was pretty dynamic. From there, you know, we built a little camaraderie, right? Because everybody’s doing it. We’re sharing stories, we’re talking about it, right? So, you can organize little challenges, right? Like that. And the reason I did it with the staff is because you’re gonna have to tell a patient. You gotta cut out meat, your cholesterol’s too high, you got coronary artery disease, you wanna be around for two years from now, right?

So, I wanted them to have the experience of like, if you’re gonna tell someone to go vegetarian, you better have done it before yourself and at least know what some of the challenges are. You can organize stuff like that. A cheap alternative is, hey, let’s just buy some fresh fruit and snacks in the break room. Right, it’s a low cost, but if I know my staff’s eating more fruits and vegetables instead of donuts, wouldn’t bagels, which is what most people get. And trust me, I’m there. I love them too. And the donuts get delivered. I’m like the first one in the break room, right? But geez, if my staff is eating clean, better energy, probably getting sick less, right?

Plus, I feel like, geez, they’re always hooking us up with free stuff. So that’s good. Another thing is buying some swag, right? hoodies, sweatshirts, t-shirts, small stuff, a little zip tie backpack, right? It doesn’t have to break the bank and be some super nice bag or hoodie that’s $65. But here’s the pro tip. If you’re gonna do it, spend a little more and get something that’s comfortable. Because I could show you my t-shirt drawer with all these different Alzheimer walks shirts or whatever other stuff you get. The shirt’s not comfortable. Guess what? I wore it once. I was like, I’m never wearing this again. So now that… that branding, that swag, that free thing, it sits in the closet because it’s not comfortable. So if you’re gonna buy something, make sure it’s at least comfortable so at least I care enough to wear it again. But that’s free marketing, that’s free advertising, right? Now the person’s out in the store and somebody says, hey, I applied to a job there once. They go, oh yeah, I really like it there, right? And so it helps build that brand, that culture. I mean, there’s other things in terms of how much money you’d want to spend, but geez, even if you just got a little creative with different challenges, you say, hey, you know, for a free, I always, the free t-shirt, it’s crazy what people will do for a free t-shirt, right?

Leigh Steiner:

Ha ha.

Vince Baiera:

And so again, there’s lots of different little tricks. I’m sure there’s whole articles on ways for free you can engage your team, but geez, those are some ones that are fun, that are easy, that are, you know, great ways to get people going.

Leigh Steiner:

Yes, yes. I think I read recently that one of the important questions that you could ask that help point out if you’re going to retain an employee is asking them if they have a best friend at work. And I think of that when I hear you talk about that people care as much about the mission as they do about pay. they care about the environment and the culture in which they’re working. And I also think when you say sharing with people that the job can potentially be emotionally taxing at times, and that is easier to bear, of course, when you’re bearing it with people that you really care for.

Vince Baiera:

Absolutely. Yeah, those relationships just mean everything. And again, it’s going to be the person that you go and vent to. It’s going to be the person you share your new raise with. Oh, I can’t wait to tell so and so. Right. It’s going to be that person at work, your work wife, work husband, whatever you call it, that, you know, that you really love. So you’re right. Having that really great friend. And that goes back to recruiting. Right. If you’re really a strong employee, don’t I want you to have some of your friends here? They’re probably like-minded people. They probably know that if I get a few of you working here, it’s gonna be harder for one of you to leave. And so if you can organize a challenge, hey, every unit is gonna participate in this challenge and the one who gets the most referrals, people applying, is gonna get a free this or that, right? And so there’s lots of creative ways you can try to leverage to get more of your best people and their friends in the workplace and some like-minded people there.

Leigh Steiner:

So, I want to say to folks that our audio people may have well stripped out the sound of these tiny voices in the back of Vince’s office. But Vince has twins. And if you wonder what keeps him young and you wonder what keeps him in tune with today, it’s those tiny little voices that help remind you of that. So, Vince, as we come to the end of this, I wanna ask outside of those twins, are there other, I mean, you have such knowledge, you have such currency, you have such passion about this issue, are there personal things? Is there a personal story that relates you, I mean, you’ve worked at the bedside, you’ve worked in business, you’ve worked in academia, you’ve worked in so many different locations. You’ve published. You have this vast experience. So what is it about onboarding that is so important that has inspired you to spend some of your professional time in this field?

Vince Baiera:

I think the biggest thing is just the ripple effect that I know I can have is if I can work with organizations and 10,000 of them can hear this and 10,000 of them can get 2% better, 5% better, 10% better, it’s going to ultimately bring on better staff. It’s going to make people happier when they go to their job and they’re going to ultimately deliver care to those folks who need it the most. That was one of the big drives I had at getting away from the bedside into a role like I have now where you can have a greater impact is I don’t want to just impact two or three people on a day to day thing. I want to go ahead and make sure I’m working with individuals and teams that can ultimately impact hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people, right, for the long term. And maybe some of these teachings can even be passed down. So That’s really what motivates me and keeps me hungry for trying to

Leigh Steiner:

Yeah.

Vince Baiera:

Sharpen my tools and help organizations.

Leigh Steiner:

As we close out, are there any further comments that you wanna share with our listeners, something you wanna leave with them particularly to have at the top of their mind?

Vince Baiera:

I would just challenge folks to be honest with themselves and their approach and know it’s going to take a little more work if you want to get a little bit better. If what you’re doing now is working, you’re hitting your numbers, there’s no issues with onboarding, staff shortage, people are happy, they’re not leaving, the turnover rate’s best in market, hey, you’re doing great. But if it’s not, then slow down. Take a look at your processes. Be honest with yourself. Challenge yourself. Right? Because you’re going to get more fulfillment out of doing that. And knowing that you’re putting the best foot forward, the best product in front of folks, and hopefully having the best results, it’s only going to pay dividends on the backend. When you go to your boss, you say, look how much better we got in the last 90 days, I made changes. Look what happened. Right? It’s going to fill you up as much as it helps everyone else. So be honest with yourself, take it on as a challenge and just do your best. And at that point, you’ll at least know that you gave it your all.

Leigh Steiner:

Vince, it has been totally delightful spending this time with you. Thank you for your excitement, your energy, your knowledge. And thanks to all of our listeners for being with us today.

Vince Baiera:

You got it. Have a great one. Thanks for having me.

Leigh Steiner:

Thank you for listening to this episode of Vitals and Vision. We hope that we’ve inspired some actionable strategies to help you create a more supportive work environment and retain top talent in your organization. Remember, success starts with a clear vision and vital strategies. Thank you for listening, and we’ll catch you in the next episode.

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Meet your host

Leigh Steiner, PhD, is a Partner for Behavioral Health Solutions at Relias. Leigh has extensive national, state, and community experience in organizational development, executive development, coaching, and consulting. She served as the commissioner for mental health for the state of Illinois from 1989 to 2002. Leigh has also served as an adjunct lecturer at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and as a lecturer at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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