Blog, The Hospital Finance Podcast®

Realistic Advice from The HR Lady [PODCAST]

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In this episode, we’re pleased to welcome Wendy Sellers, Author, Speaker, Trainer, and Consultant, who’s also known as “The HR Lady”, to provide us with some realistic HR advice.

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Highlights of this episode include:

  • The #1 HR issue
  • How to fix those HR issues
  • How to stop the bleed of talent
  • How the average employee can help

Kelly Wisness: Hi, this is Kelly Wisness. Welcome back to the award-winning Hospital Finance Podcast. We’re pleased to welcome Wendy Sellers. Wendy, who’s known as The HR Lady, is not just another HR guru. With over 25 years of diverse and expansive hands-on experience, Wendy is a dedicated business partner, educator, and thought leader in the HR and leadership realm. Her expertise spans employee relations, HR operations, leadership development, corporate culture, and more. Wendy’s approach is rooted in understanding the unique culture and goals of organizations, tailoring her services to provide practical no-nonsense solutions. She is an author, speaker, trainer, thought leader, and advisor who has recently been featured in the USA Today for insights on employee retention and management training. In this episode, she’s providing us with some realistic advice. Thank you for joining us, Wendy.

Wendy Sellers: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Kelly: Great. Well, let’s jump in. So, what is the number one HR issue these days?

Wendy: Besides people? [laughter] The number one issue in the past couple of years is attraction and retention. I mean, that’s really what it comes down to is ever since the beginning of the pandemic and really before that, to be quite honest, but the pandemic really highlighted the fact that it is incredibly difficult to attract employees and then even more difficult to retain those employees. So, something’s got to give.

Kelly: Most definitely. So, how do we fix this?

Wendy: Well, it’s a lot bigger than a quick answer. So, it depends. Every single company is unique, every culture is unique. So, there’s no copy-paste band-aid solution for all of our listeners today. It really goes into saying, okay, if you think you have a decent culture and you’re not able to attract people, then something’s going wrong, right? It might be something as simple as you need to change your compensation and benefits. And even when I say that where I say, “Oh, that’s something simple,” it’s really not that simple because compensation and benefits, which whether you’re including them together or separately, that’s a huge line item on the financial report. So, just saying, “Oh yeah, we’ll give everybody raises,” is not going to first of all go over with CFOs or business owners. But it’s really like, “Well, what do we give them raises to?” Just because the competitors are increasing their pay and/or benefits doesn’t necessarily mean you have to; you may need to do something different. You could be changing just your benefits. You could be changing your work hours. You could be letting people work from home occasionally, or full-time. That’s a whole other conversation that we can maybe get into later.

But it’s a lot bigger than one sentence fix. But if you were my client, I’m an HR consultant, I help clients of all sizes all over the country, all over the world these days. But it’s really about, okay, let’s ask people why they’re not accepting jobs with you when they’re getting an offer from you. Or when people are exiting, let’s do an exit survey or an exit interview and try to find out what is the real reason they’re leaving. Is it money? Is it pay? Is it benefits? Is it hours? Or is it really just poor leadership, and they don’t want to work there no matter what the pay is? So, Kelly, it’s a lot. It’s a lot of questions and a lot of answers, but every single company is unique so we’d have to do a lot of deep dives and digging in and even trial and error to figure out like, “Okay, maybe we’re going to do a trial program for the summer or for two months, or for quarter two, and let’s see if it will work for the rest of the company.” So, it’s a lot. Does that make sense?

Kelly: Yes, I know it is a lot. There are a lot of things and issues going on these days, so thank you for all of that. So, what is the easiest thing that companies can do to stop the bleed of talent?

Wendy: I would say generally speaking, just based on my experience in the past couple of years, is to train managers. We hire people or we promote people from within and we say, “Oh, come back tomorrow. Now you’re a supervisor, you’re a manager, a director.” And we just think they’re magically going to go home and get these skills overnight through their dream process and come back and be this amazing leader. And then we blame the managers on all the problems, the turnover, the lack of recruiting, everything. But we forget that we have to train managers. And folks that are listening, please, even if you hire somebody who has all this amazing management experience on their resume, they don’t have the management experience that you want in your company, or they might, but we don’t really 100% know that. So, we still have to train our managers and our employees on the culture of our company, the policies of our company, the procedures of our company, and then really figure out like, “Okay, you’ve been tagged as a good manager, but have you actually got the training that we want you to have?”

So, number one thing to stop the bleed of talent is training managers. And then the number two thing is to overhaul the recruiting and the onboarding processes. Onboarding is not just day one, “Here, fill out some paperwork.” For some roles onboarding might be 30 days, other roles it might be 90 days. For very, very specific roles that take a long time to do training on, especially if they’re new into that role, is it may take six months to onboard somebody into that process. So, training managers, overhauling your recruiting process before you put that job ad out, and then fixing your onboarding process. Those three things alone will definitely help you stop the bleed of talent, whether you’re losing talent that aren’t even applying or you’re losing talent that are leaving to your competitors.

Kelly: That’s great advice, Wendy. What else can companies do to stop the bleed of talent?

Wendy: So, I kind of alluded to it a little bit about surveys, but I would definitely suggest to any company out there, whether you’ve lost one person or you’re losing a lot of people or you’re not losing anybody, because let’s face it, you might still have a bad set of talent in your organization, but they’re not going anywhere. So, you’re like, “Oh, I don’t have turnover problems, but I do have productivity problems.” Well, it could be because you have employees who aren’t qualified or they’re qualified and they’ve given up and they don’t care anymore because of X, Y, Z reasons. Whether it’s poor management, poor leadership, just an icky culture. So, I would say let’s interview our current staff. So, whether we interview them one-on-one with an expert that’s external to the organization, or do something as simple as an online survey be careful those folks if you’re saying, “You know what? Wendy Sellers, The HR Lady, told me to do an online survey.” Please don’t do it on your own because we need to make sure that the results are valid and reliable and you’re not leading anybody to select a certain answer.

And then the last thing I wanted to say about surveys too, well, probably not the last thing because I have a lot to say about it, but the last thing for the purpose of this conversation is that make sure that somebody actually looks at the results. So, if you don’t plan on doing a darn thing about compensation, benefits, remote work hours, in-person work hours, flexibility, whatever it might be, then don’t ask your employees what they want. Because I have seen that happen where companies go, “I want to get feedback from employees and I’m going to do this online survey.” And then you look at the results and you’re like, “No, we can’t actually do that.” Well then why did you ask what they want? And so that actually pushes people to the edge even further where they’re never going to give you feedback again. They may stay with the organization, but I call it quit and stay, right? So, they’re still taking your paycheck and your benefits, but they’re doing the minimum requirements of the job because they realize you don’t care, so why should they?

So, ask your employees what they want, then listen and act. And as I already mentioned, you probably need to do a deep dive into your compensation structure. Things have changed the past few years. It is no longer acceptable to anybody, including candidates or current employees to pay people at the bottom of the scale, especially if you’re expecting them to have the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are at the middle or the top of the scale. Training all your managers and all your employees too is very important. So, training your employees on all your policies, all your practices, but then also just on, hey, this is how we expect people to interact in our organization. This is what’s acceptable for communication and feedback. Here’s your routes that you can go to for help from HR, from managers, from leaders. And then here’s all the possibility of things that employees can get involved in, like maybe special committees that they can help make change, real change in the organization. Our employees know what’s broken and we always forget to ask them when we only ask managers. So, asking your employees what’s wrong and how can we fix it sometimes can save you a heck of a lot more money than just going ahead and throwing a band-aid on something that’s broke and it turns out that is not the fix that’s needed.

Kelly: Those are all some really great ideas and tips. How can the average employee help?

Wendy: So, the average employee has, whether they’ve been there for a week or they’ve been there for seven years, they are the ones that are in touch usually with the customer, depending on what role they are, right? Even if the customer is just another department, they’re the ones that are usually in touch with the customer. They’re in touch with the actual practices, not the policies. The policies are one thing that we are like, “Oh, this is our ideal practice.” And then the employees go, “Well, that doesn’t work. So, we’ve come up with our own.” So, really listening to the employees regarding why did you change our practices, our procedures? And then listening to them. So, they could say, “Well, when I did it your way, this is what happened. But nobody ever asked me for the feedback, so I just started doing it my own way and everybody’s been happy with it. And so now this is the way we do it.” But we often criticize our employees instead of actually saying, “Thank you for that feedback; I didn’t know.”

And so stopping the blame game, the finger pointing, and really asking them for advice, asking them for solutions, not demanding solutions because not all the employees are going to have solutions. But if they do say, “Hey, I have an idea,” I’m just going to be blunt and say, shut up and listen to them. Maybe their idea’s not valid. Explain to them why so now you’re both on the same page. But we shouldn’t judge people based on their title. If we’ve spent a lot of money, which we’re all spending a ton of money these days to get employees, then we should realize, well, we’ve spent a lot of money on them, we’ve increased our compensation. We’ve increased our benefits. These are valuable people. Why am I not listening to them? So, employees have so much more information than we ever thought possible. The more frontline they are, including the supervisors, the more information and actual practical tips they’re going to have for changing things that are really going to affect how our customers like our products or our services.

Kelly: Those are some great takeaways. Thank you, Wendy. And thank you so much for joining us today and for sharing this realistic advice around HR.

Wendy: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Kelly: Yeah. And if a listener wants to learn more or contact you to discuss this topic further, how best can they do that?

Wendy: Sure. So, I actually have two podcasts, one through Aurora Training Advantage, and then I have one through my own company, The HR Lady. Just Google ‘The HR Lady.’ I’m all over the Internet. But I have podcasts, I have books. My two books are actually coming out on Audible shortly. I have YouTube channels, and I am on LinkedIn all day every day. So, you can just shoot me a message on LinkedIn, and I’ll respond to you, or you can go to my website, and you can also send me an email directly,

Kelly: Wow, you are everywhere. Well, thanks again, Wendy, for providing that. And thank you all for joining us for this episode of The Hospital Finance Podcast. Until next time…

[music] This concludes today’s episode of the Hospital Finance Podcast. For show notes and additional resources to help you protect and enhance revenue at your hospital, visit The Hospital Finance Podcast is a production of BESLER | SMART ABOUT REVENUE, TENACIOUS ABOUT RESULTS.


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