What kind of home care leader are you? Have you created an environment where people are working as a team? Have you fostered a culture in which you allow for people to push back respectfully? Are you offering feedback to employees that is a healthy combination of candor and care?

If you can say yes to the above, then you likely are creating a business where people want to work for you and will stay. That, at least, is according to Catherine Vergara, president of CareFor, and Andrea Cohen, founder and vice chair of HouseWorks. The two home care executives offered leadership advice for achieving high-performing environments in a webinar Thursday sponsored by the Home Care Association of America.

“Most people don’t leave jobs,” Vergara offered. “They leave culture and leaders.”

I don’t think she could have said this any better. Vergara and Cohen offered other gems during the one-hour presentation that is a part of the Master Class series presented by HCAOA. Among them:

  • A strong organization is aligned and has direction.
  • Organizations are made up of leaders and followers, and both are important.
  • A leader must walk the walk.
  • Allow people to challenge ideas appropriately and respectfully.
  • It’s detrimental to say “It’s always been done that way.” This viewpoint stunts innovation.

Offering a work environment that makes employees feel comfortable and welcome is no small feat today amid a dire home care worker shortage and ferocious competition for staff. Firms, frankly, have no choice, Cohen said: “We have to be innovative and we have to think about what our customers want,” she noted.

One of the most enlightening recommendations from the seasoned pros was the importance of balancing care and candor in conversations with employees. What does this mean? Be honest but also be empathetic. You need the right amount of each to foster healthy relationships.

Vergara’s guidelines for a candid conversation:

  • Do it quickly. (Shovel the pile while it’s small.)
  • Do it calmly. (Don’t have it in anger.)
  • Do it privately. (You want to help the person, not embarrass them.)
  • Do it thoughtfully in a way that minimizes the embarrassment or intimidation.

If you want a recipe for a healthy work environment, heed the advice of leaders like Vergara and Cohen. You might find yourself keeping more employees and losing less.

Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at [email protected].