When choosing an aged care home for a loved one, the quality of the care a family member will receive would be the number one concern on every family’s ‘checklist’. Research shows that great company culture within an organisation can positively impact the quality of care a resident can expect to receive.  

New data driven technologies and the next wave of analytics and insight based recruitment tools have now evolved to enable organisations to hire the people that better match the ‘DNA’ of the organisation, and therefore that will be more likely to foster an even better culture across the board. Ultimately this is likely to result in a better place to work for team members who are able to effectively collaborate to action the organisation’s objectives. And even more importantly, it can deliver a better experience  for residents as families seek to ensure their loved ones receive better quality of care.

‘Company culture’, simply put, can be thought of as the way your organization thinks, feels and acts in order to be successful and go about its business. It’s the combination of values and beliefs that are developed from your traditions, history and structures that can determine, as well as improve, the quality of care and quality of life for the residents. Another way to think about it, is that company culture is an ‘expression of your organisation’s DNA’

Company culture is different from corporate values or mission statements.  While these are important, and often articulated in company documents which hopefully represent the aspirations of your organization, a company culture is a set of social practices, reinforced by communication and interactions, that (hopefully) bring people together and act as a ‘glue’ that holds an organisation together under a common ‘fingerprint’.  Culture can also be dynamic and evolving, and it can be shaped in ways to change or improve the organization with deliberate focus – and build its success. Equally, poorly managed, a company culture can develop without intent, and is often hard to repair, and can have a significant adverse impact on an organisation.

Company culture is also, ‘what we are known for’ in the sense of how we ‘do things’ and ‘how we respond’. To this end, quality of care and culture are intimately linked. It is particularly important in the context of aged care, where culture affects and is expressed in every employee.  In turn, the employees take an active part in re-creating the company culture through engaging with their peers and the way they care for their residents.

Culture also relates to brand and the ‘self-esteem’ of the people connected to it. For example, does the organisation have a very defined reputation and sense of pride that health professionals within the organisation are proud to promote to peers, or even go home and share with their own families at the dinner table debrief?

The DNA of an organisation can now be even more accurately identified with the assistance of new modelling technology. There are now options that not only help organisations identify and track their culture, but help them positively improve it to deliver on other business objectives.

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What link does research suggest between Company Culture and Quality of Care?

Studies have shown that aged care and nursing homes often have particularly strong internal company cultures as they have, until recent years, had relatively limited need for interaction with the wider population, outside of the home, with the exception of residents’ families.  They can however create a very strong culture but one that does risk becoming insular or closed-in, and developing a hardened ‘DNA’ which could be difficult to steer back to a more positive engaged environment that the organisations, health professionals and residents alike all aspire for. Additionally, residents are often perceived as passive receivers of care, so it is up to the staff and overall organisation to set the company culture, that elevates the residents’ experience.

It is worth acknowledging that some families and residents are emotionally charged and dealing with deep challenges and adjustment, so without strength and unity from the organisation and its staff as to what to expect, the family’s emotion can impact on staff the other way too and weaken culture.

Although the majority of studies point to positive correlations between the quality of medical care and the clinical condition of the residents, aged care facilities also serve other purposes, such as being a long term home, a social environment and a complete health care service for residents.

Most studies demonstrate a strong positive link between company culture and quality of care. Results show that quality of care improves when nurses, clinical workers and carers share the same values as the organisation and of course, where that organisation has ‘opted-in’ to putting the needs of the resident first wherever possible. By developing and improving culture within aged care organisations and amongst their staff, a higher quality of care for the residents can be achieved. Technology makes this easier. Defining the DNA and mapping this to improve the staff morale and the quality of the resident’s experience will eventually become the norm.

Other studies analyzing the relationship, including the impact teamwork has on patient/resident satisfaction, company culture and organisational commitment, as well as organisational justice and staff turnover also all point to a positive correlation between company culture and quality of care. Investing in technology to identify and champion the company culture, the organisation’s DNA is therefore a good practise for creating the opportunity to attract more like-minded and complimentary talented staff to join the team. And this means a better resident experience for the family and the resident themselves.

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How can aged care organisations hire for the right cultural fit?

1. Innovation is here. Use new technologies to find the right fit

This is the new world and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics are not just the subject of techie magazines and science news any longer, these are now part of everyday business insight and analytics tools available to organisations. AI and predictive analytics are now available also to make better hiring decisions to strengthen company culture.

Companies like PredictiveHire are now building on a combination of behavioural science, data science and computer science to more effectively identify and assess the factors that make someone the right hire for a particular company, and ensuring that person fits the company’s culture.  These recent advances mean that you can now make better decisions utilising robust data and science – not just gut feeling.

These models reduce bias and level the candidate playing field which is good for candidates too. It give managers a 3D view of their candidates, to enable them to make the best people decisions by better understanding the ‘DNA’ of their organisation with data, and matching the right fits to this ‘DNA’.  The technology is not making the decisions for you – but they can tell you the people who will be most likely to succeed in your organization and improve your culture overall, as well by presenting the data and insights in a meaningful way.

Companies like Regis Aged Care, who own and operate around 62 facilities, are an ideal organisation to use this kind of solution to help identify candidates who are a good cultural fit, likely to stay for a long time, and unlikely to engage in unsafe behaviour. Ultimately, this is intended to benefit the residents in the longer term.

Once you truly understand your company’s culture, you can make sure you’re focused on it – not your personal biases – when vetting candidates.

It is vital that aged care organisations are open and willing to adopt cultural changes in order to improve company culture, and technology enables a positive path to do so. Through this approach, it will also improve the quality of care an organisation can offer. Having the “right fit” of staff will not only make the organisation run like a well oiled machine with less turnover and higher quality care on offer, but residents and their families will see the difference too.

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2. Differentiate between the person and the job

When you’re hiring a new staff member, it’s important to not let who they are as a person overshadow their qualifications and capabilities for the job. Yes, it’s good that they are friendly and personable, but remember – you aren’t interviewing this person to be your friend, you’re here to see if they will be a reliable and effective worker for your organisation. The best fit for this would be someone who is a balance between the right skills, sufficient experience and the right personality that will operate well within your company’s culture.

Do not lose sight of that during the interview. What you like about a candidate personally cannot trump their potential as an employee.

Don’t be afraid to ask off the wall questions either. The interviewing process is an organisation’s best opportunity to get to know the applicant. They can have all the right things in their CV and cover letter, but in the end it’s how they are going to perform in your organisation that counts. Equally, don’t rely on one person’s perspective. Test for team cultural fit by allowing the team in a later round, to meet them before finalising their appointment. An interview is a great opportunity to test out your assumptions about a potential candidate to see how they would deal with ‘spontaneous’ situations that could arise while doing their job.

Though there are standard questions in most job interviews – which many candidates prepare for by rehearsing and memorising responses – you can really gauge more about a candidate if you ask some non-traditional interview question. The focus should be on problem solving.

What they answer isn’t important, don’t judge them if their interests are different to yours, it’s the ability to take the unexpected in their stride that is a plus. This allows you to get a real impression of who they are as people.

3. Give applicants a chance to lead the conversation.

In most job interviews, it’s typically the interviewer that is in charge – asking the questions, dictating the pacing and direction of the interview. But what happens if you let the applicant take the lead for a bit? Pause, and invite response.

This is a challenge to tackle for any candidate and can provide an opportunity for vibrant personalities to shine. Here you can see how they communicate without prompts or guides.

Cultural fit clearly plays a pivotal role in today’s hiring process, but that doesn’t mean you should hire clones of your existing staff. Diversity leads to positive, productive innovations and exchange of ideas. Whatever you do, you need to understand the DNA of your own company culture in order to hire the people that are most likely to think, feel and act in a way that will make the most positive contribution to your organisation’s success.

What’s your experience? Does good company culture impact on the delivery of quality care?

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