Someone said the other day when I said let’s think outside the box, “Oh, I hate that phrase.” For me, it’s hard to have an active conversation without filling it with phrases and adages and stories that help me express my point. And, visually, a phrase like ‘let’s think outside the box’ really gets to the point. You are constrained by your opinions and perspectives, so let’s step outside of those self-imposed walls and be creative.
We are trying not to think of our current staffing needs in the typical way. Normal ads and throwing money at the situation will help a little bit, but we need to think differently. I’ve done a couple of interviews with people lately and one of their questions is, “How do you recruit providers and staff to come to north central Iowa?” And I think, “Yep, we have a lot of great flat farmland but honestly, not a lot of things to do like in an urban city.” So I answer, it’s the culture.
I read a book recently called “The Dream Manager” by Matthew Kelly. It was a short book about a fictional company that had very high turnover, so it thought of hiring and staffing and retention of employees in a different way. The book described how the company started asking the staff what it was that they dreamt of - was it transportation (this book had a lot of people who took public transport to work and it took a lot of time), was their issue owning versus renting, was it career advancement? What drove their staff to quit in such high numbers? They were thinking outside the box.
Iowa Specialty Hospitals and Clinics have been on a two decade quest to be the best employer, but as we get busier, our business model changes. It gets harder and harder to maintain that atmosphere of “family” when you are getting bigger and busier by the day. Toss in a pandemic, an aging population, and the fact that a lot of the staff are choosing now to retire -- the need for employees is real and kind of scary.
When we think of the best companies in the world to work for, I think of the Silicon Valley companies. They have yoga instructors and chefs for their employees. They have fancy gyms and masseuses and hoop-dee-do perks that are impossible to replicate in north central Iowa.
Then what? What is thinking outside of the box when looking for staff? Many businesses and companies are looking for staff as well, so why choose Iowa Specialty Hospitals and Clinics? Maybe it’s not about “stuff.” Maybe it’s about having a job that complements your life and allows flexibility and respect. Maybe it’s pride and that feeling of ownership.
This is my 25th year at Iowa Specialty Hospitals and Clinics. I don’t need a chef or a massage or whatever, because I know I work in an environment where everyone is making a difference daily. It’s important to have celebrations and recognitions (and we do) … it’s important to have comparable or better benefits (and we do) … it’s important to know and attend, if possible, funerals and birthdays and retirements and weddings (and we do) … it’s crucial to be nice and extend love (and we always do). I want other people to experience what I experience. I’m here because this is my family, and I’m so proud of what we’ve done and what we continue to do.