If ever there was a perfect example of having to fly a 747 while building it (at warp speed), it might be how Home Health and Hospice providers have been tasked in the past weeks with standing up remote back offices and care teams without interrupting care for their patients. At Forcura, we are certain that no one is better equipped to deliver expert, compassionate care in the home, yet we also recognize that leading a remote workforce might be a new challenge for many in this segment - where face-to-face interaction and personal care are foundational. I video chatted this week with Craig Mandeville, our founder and CEO, and Jocelyn Donahue, our VP of People, to get their practical advice on getting remote teams up to speed, dialed into the tasks at hand, and most importantly, cared for as they work in this “new normal.” Here’s what they had to say:
- Be the calm in the storm - “Project optimism by continuing to focus on long-term goals and not just the task at hand,” says Craig, “and you reassure employees that your business will survive this time.” Focusing on goals also helps your employees understand what they are accountable for and helps them “own” how they contribute to the bigger picture. This practice isn’t just good for your business, it keeps employees confident about the road ahead.
- Communicate - As Craig says, “no one wants to be an island, especially if they’re used to being surrounded by their team.” Make communications frequent and high value, being direct and transparent with your company updates, but also taking the time to ask if each employee has what they need to be comfortably equipped to work from home or has questions they need answered. It’s best to answer honestly and share what you know, based on the facts. Communications will build trust and make employees feel valued.
- Remain connected, ideally by video - Beyond the obvious benefit of seeing each other, video conferencing can help you identify those employees who might be having a harder time transitioning through this experience. Direct any managers who believe their employees might require additional outreach to your HR team or trusted supervisor, and make their follow up a priority. Jocelyn also reminds us that video is an ideal way to build morale. Even if people don’t love seeing themselves on camera, the presenter can lift spirits by priming themselves with extra energy, smiling as much as possible, and calling on participants who look like they need a boost. You can also acknowledge that people might have kids climbing into their laps, or dogs barking in the next room, or even a cool poster hanging behind them that you’d like the employee to mention. Video helps to connect us and be an experience that your employees can look forward to enjoying.
- Conduct purposeful engagement activities - Still, the challenge remains to overcome isolation or frustration about working while employees might also be caring for children or older adults. This is where ridiculous ideas can be your best friend. Jocelyn tapped Forcura’s Culture Team (which existed before the crisis) to collectively identify fun games, quizzes, exercise challenges, pet photo contests, and more and scheduled these out to share with our employees through our Slack channel (an internal messaging app). “It’s a fun break for people who need a moment away from the routine, and is always totally optional - not everyone wants to do a push-up challenge, but they may like seeing what character from ‘The Office’ they’re most like.” These activities should also include calling-out any successes that your team has accomplished, big or small. As Jocelyn says, “Now is the time to make
employees feel celebrated, appreciated and supported by their company.”
- Trust your teams - Craig advises that as leaders, you should continue to trust the decision you made when you hired each of your employees. While circumstances have changed dramatically, verbalizing that trust in your team and their ability to rise to the challenge is a potent and lasting motivator. Your people have always been your greatest asset, and sharing how important they are to you and your organization is a theme that should help you lead through the crisis.
Forcura has been fully remote since March 16, and if anything, we’ve embraced more closely our mission to empower better patient care and our operational focus on being a goal-driven organization. As you lead your teams through this crisis, we are humbled by the role you are playing to respond to the pandemic and are honored to partner with you as you deliver care to those impacted.
As Forcura's Director of Communications and Brand Strategy, Kate brings a robust background and knowledge of the healthcare and post-acute industry to Forcura. She also represents Forcura as a social media ambassador at events around the country, is an on-camera reporter and interviewer, and host of our Innovate Jax podcast.