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On June 9th, the Avila Institute faculty attended the annual Catholic Health Care Association Assembly in New Orleans. We were a pre-assembly event once again, presenting on the topics of staff retention, stress and ethics. As always, the Avila Institute is both grateful and honored to be part of such a wonderful event and the chance to unite with so many members of Catholic Healthcare. The staff then took part of the exhibit hall sharing information about our educational offerings. This year our seminar “Keeping a Healthy Organization” focused on staff retention, the effects of stress on staff and retention and organizational ethics.

The seminar began with speaker Joan Wetzel of Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS) who shared the talent acquisition and retention strategies used by ERS. Their model has been very successful earning them the “ Enquirer Media top Workplace Award” for 8 years running now (it was just announced that they received again in 2017). Joan shared with us their strategies on staff recruitment including video testimonials, using social media, internal referral programs, and techniques for better interviewing. Part of this strategy is using employee brand, using photos and stories of their own staff.

Joan also spoke about how staff candidates are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. They are doing research on social media platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn and GlassDoor. Today’s candidates are mobile and organizations need to be sure that candidates can apply for jobs on their mobile devices. This led into staff retention and how developing healthy relationships and leadership is important. ERS has about 9 programs to help develop and support their leaders. Joan also discussed the importance of “stay interviews” and other methods of getting employee satisfaction feedback before they leave.

The second session of the day was presented by Alfred Norwood, behavior specialist and faculty member of AIG. Alf presented on stress – how it affects retention and suggested solutions. Alf began the presentation discussing the human brain, how stress works and how it affects us. He said when you understand the brain and you understand behavior, you can then change it. Stress has become quite a topic in health and wellness. Stress, especially chronic stress, affects the body quite severely. Many physical and emotional symptoms can be attributed to stress. The effects of stress can lead to depression which then can lead to dementia. However, as caregivers under stress, stress can make it harder to do our jobs. When we are under stress the first thing to go is our short-term memory. Anxiety then increases, and we become intolerant of change. Sounds like a fun person to work with right? This leads to the fact that the number one reason a person leaves his or her job is relationships with other staff – especially their superiors. Alf discussed some methods for helping stress such as deep breathing and mindful meditation exercises. He also discussed how leadership can help staff with their stress.

The third session was presented by MC Sullivan and focused on Ethical Leadership and the nonprofit sector. Analyzing ethical issues can be very difficult, and there are challenges – we need to be sure that not only are we doing the right thing, but also doing it for the right reason. It is important that healthy organizations demonstrate behaviors and practices that reflect the integration of core values and mission. In her session, MC reviewed two models for making ethical decisions while leading the participants through two case studies allowing participants to share and be part of the discussion.

If you are interested in learning more about staff retention, the next upcoming NRRO cosponsored webinar will feature Martha Ambercrombie of Vikus Corporation on the topic. This webinar will be presented on Tuesday, August 22, and a complimentary recording will be available on our website. You can learn more about the webinar here.


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