Karmae Cipriotti Fahr, CEO, The Fahr Group

October 25, 2018

Caregivers… Your Company’s Hidden Potential

He went happily along with the nurse, delighted that an activity was waiting for him just down the hall.

That was the day we moved my father into his new home, a memory care facility.  Alzheimer’s had been steadily robbing him of his identity and all that was familiar in his life.  He had become like a special needs child.  And so my life and my business were going to have to adjust to a significant change; still being my dad’s advocate, but not being involved in his day to day care.
You are probably thinking, is this the employment article?  Have I been reading a piece from a medical journal?  This is the employment article, and I want to talk to you about an overlooked, and often underutilized segment of the workforce… the caregiver. He / She can be a hidden source of extra potential for your company.

Here are some sobering facts and figures:
Today, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's every 65 seconds. By mid-century, someone in the United States will develop the disease every 33 seconds.”  
Alzheimer’s Association 

A majority of dementia caregivers are women (58 percent). On average, they are 54 years old—.  Employed dementia caregivers work an average of 34.9 hours per week while caregiving, and more than half (57 percent) work full time.  Still, a majority of employed caregivers struggle to balance their job and their caregiving responsibilities.” 
National Alliance for Caregiving Research Report 2017.

In recent years, there has been great focus on the Millennials; the developing workforce. I invite you to troll the websites of your competitors.  There you will see pictures of staff happily engaging in competitive games of ping pong, socializing around the company’s coffee bar, and yes… team building exercises involving pumpkin carving contests.  Along with the Millennial workforce came WIFM… “What’s in it for me?”  Companies are concerned about retaining the latest and greatest.   But I suggest another, often overlooked workforce population… the caregiver. 

The caregiver population is poised to explode.  More than likely, caregivers represent a greater number in your employ than they did just 10 years ago.  You have taken great care to supply the ping pong table, coffee bar, and other Millennial perks, but what ways support your retention of the caregiver group?

The caregiver employee wants to work, and all too often financially needs to work, and would appreciate some work/life options.  In this group, you have a collective of experienced personnel who, while they have a financial need to work, can usually only put in part-time hours that offer flexibility.  This is a workforce that looks different from the Millennial staff, and would also love to contribute. “Only 53% of employers offer flexible work hours/paid sick days, 32% offer paid family leave, 23% offer employee assistance programs, and 22% allow telecommuting regardless of employee caregiving burden.”
National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.

You understand your company’s culture, and know what makes it thrive.  I am suggesting that this employee group may be an overlooked asset.  I encourage you to start company conversations focusing on new and innovative ways that they can impact your bottom-line while resolving their needed flexibility.  Could their jobs be changed to look more project based?  Could they utilize skills that have not been tapped but could also greatly contribute to your organization?

Additionally, there are very cost-effective educational initiatives that can help this employee group.  Perhaps a lunch and learn from the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.  Maybe coffee breaks can be accompanied by YouTube type videos on a range of topics such as ways to access dementia-specific training, or guiding your loved one through the healthcare system (very challenging, having been there myself), and also how to maintain the very illusive health & well-being of the caregiver.
National Alliance for Caregiving & National Alliance for Caregiving Research Report 2017.

Juggling employment and caregiving is a 24-hour a day, 7 day-a-week situation.  By investing in this special population, you are addressing their real needs, and very possibly ensuring better productivity and retention for your business.  This is a win-win for all involved.

November 18, 2016

Create Culture

Psalm 108: 1-2

“My heart, O God, is steadfast;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.”

It’s not every day that I wake up singing…how about you? That doesn’t mean that we are never in a good mood, but in my case, unfortunately, my mood is more reactive to the morning’s events than intentional. I’ve worked on turning that around because I’m aware that my attitude sets the tone for my family and my business; it effects everyone around me. My mood, good or bad, rubs off.

When I read these verses in Psalm 108, what came to mind is that Christian leaders owe those around us an approachable attitude. Starting our day in prayer and song, praising the Lord, cements the right mood. Our focus on God and a right attitude will set the tone for those around us.

As leaders, we are a reflection of the true corporate culture, the tone or heart of the organization. Culture is designed and displayed by the heart of top leadership in every organization. And our attitude is the foundation of our company’s culture. Even if we did not intend to build a specific culture, please know that employees can identify it because they see it in us.

In August of this year, a Gallup poll indicated that 56% of workers are completely satisfied with their jobs. That may sound like a decent percentage, but think again. Anytime you walk out of your office, look at the faces of all your employees. Almost half, 44%, the less than completely satisfied, could leave for greener pastures. Can you afford to lose, hire, and train another 44%?

Do your employees love coming to work? Are they loyal to you and the company? Do you hear upbeat conversations? Do they sing the company’s praises to your customers?

These verses in Psalms 108 say clearly to me that our hearts, as leaders, become our corporate cultures. What does your heart reflect? What do the hearts your company’s leaders reflect? Discover that and you will be able to define your company’s culture. And good or bad, it rubs off, and that could determine what percentage will stay or leave.

July 22, 2016

Trump as the Encourager

“Encourager” …   by those closest to Donald Trump, that has been a repeated description of the Republican Nominee at the RNC.  Employees and family spoke of how he listens and encourages them to be their best, to dream big, to conquer the impossible.  That is the consummate definition of a leader.

Describe your experience with your boss.  Describe the experiences that your employees have with you.  During my 30 years in recruitment, speaking with employees and executives in a vast array of industries around the United States, the common theme is sadly the opposite from “Encourager”.   I continually have been confided in with experiences from disillusioned staff members, even at the executive level: “My boss does not value my knowledge.” “My boss does not have my back.” “My company does not invest in us.”

You may not have a boss at your company that is described as “Encourager”, but as Christians all of us must not overlook that we DO have an encourager.  The Bible tells us to sit quietly in His presence, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  God encourages us in Isaiah 30:21 that our ears will hear a word behind us, “This is the way, walk in it.”  We are encouraged to be still in His presence, and listen to the soft words of wisdom.

As leaders, we must sit in God’s presence to hear his encouragement so that, not only may we be encouraged, we can encourage those who depend on us. Then, in turn, we can offer our staff direction, investment, and encouragement.

Nehemiah prayed to God. Nehemiah 4:4
David sang praises to God. Psalm 42:5
Joshua meditated on God’s word.  Joshua 1:8

Thank you Heavenly Father for the encouragement readily available to us.

December 14, 2015

Hardening of the Heart OR a Helpful Alternative

A condition that spoils the tone of a business’s culture, hampers its financial growth, and destroys employee retention is the hardened heart of the leader. It is almost impossible to reach someone whose heart is hardened.  They are untouchable.  Not an exciting corporate climate to rally around. 

The hardened heart endangers business.  However… another condition of the heart enhances it.  The Bible, explains about another “hardening”, the hardening of us to difficulties.  Isaiah 41:10 says,
“Fear not for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties…” 

Hardening me to difficulties.  What would that look like? 
·       No fear,
·       No worry,
·       Energy for the positive.
In what ways does hardening us to difficulties enrich our leadership abilities?

Leaders have to weather storms.  “The buck stops here.”  Small business owners, particularly, are impacted by storms in this sluggish economy.  Storms can look like struggling to meet payroll, pay suppliers, and just plain problems keeping the doors open.
As leaders, what would your days look like if you were hardened to difficulties?  For me, as I stated:
·       No fear,
·       No worry,
·       Energy for the positive.
Energy to move forward, stay the course, rather than focus on the negative. 

Having the energy to face the day, no matter what it holds, shows passion for your work and rallies the troops. Your excitement will spread to employees and customers alike. 

I encourage you to remember that God is willing to take on our difficulties.  He is also willing to strengthen us and harden us to difficulties. Each day can look like:
·       No fear,
·       No worry,
·       Energy for the positive.

What would your day look like today if you had no fear of risks, no worry about finances, and energy to be positive about your future?  How would your corporate culture change?  How about your retention numbers and your company’s bottom-line? 

September 30, 2015

Your Best PR

Brenda is an effervescent employee, if I ever met one.  She works at my favorite coffee shop and takes great care to make sure I have the freshest, tastiest java.  “You always make my morning,” I told her. “Your upbeat attitude helps us all.”   “I love this place!” she exclaimed.  Well…   a comment like that has ‘retention’ written all over it so my consulting curiosity kicked in.  “What makes you say that?” I asked while performing my coffee mixology.  Brenda was even more excited to share with me her employment experience: headquarters looking out for employees, management praising workers, and “the big boss” coming in to wash dishes. 

Please note that this coffee shop is not a one-store operation where oversight would be very manageable.  The company has over 650 stores and employs thousands of workers in multi-state locations.  What makes this company continue to grow at a rapid pace and produce loyal employees?  It is my guess that “the big boss” does not have time to wash dishes but he is very smart to make time.  This is a classic example of Servant Leadership: a strong focus on the mission and a caring heart for employees.  Christ demonstrated the supreme example of Servant Leadership.  Every action He took had a strong focus for the mission and a caring heart for His followers.

How would you describe your Servant Leadership?  Like Brenda, are your employees exuberant and your best PR? 

April 30, 2015

Retention - Why Employees Leave

My devotion this morning suggested I look at circumstances from God’s perspective.  To me, that is a daunting task.  I need to know God so much better in order to “step into His shoes”.

When have you viewed circumstances through the eyes of your employees? Fortunately, that task is not so daunting.

Last year, The Fahr Group launched a new recruitment division: Sales Professionals for Leasing & Finance.  This complements our Executive Search Division well. We are able to speak with the C-Suite for two areas now: top tier search and sales recruitment.  We continue to be privy to how companies are planning growth and, in some cases, reorganization.  Launching our Sales Search Division has also afforded us the opportunity to speak with many sales employees.  Of the hundreds of people my company speaks with, I would guesstimate that 70% are happy or happy enough until something “better” materializes.  Because we do Retention Consulting, we are always curious as to what makes employees satisfied and loyal to their organizations.  We also want to investigate what circumstances make the 30% displeased. 

Retention is not rocket science.  However, I am still surprised when I learn that the basics of achieving high retention numbers are not implemented.  Sadly, often what is expressed to me does not change. Some top management are not satisfied with the employees’ sales production numbers, and the sales staff are disgruntled with management’s treatment, or lack thereof. Companies need sales professionals to produce, and sales professionals need…   
You fill in the blank for your company.  Do you know the answers?    

This is the first step in retaining your employees… look at your organization from their perspective; “step into their shoes”.  Initiate conversations to explore: likes, dislikes, and career goals.    
Now… the retention work begins.   

August 6, 2013


“I will surely defend my ways to His face.” Job 13:15 

Are you able to defend your actions to God?  Job said he could, and in turn be vindicated.
That is extraordinarily impressive. 

I wonder as a leader, could I argue my case to God?  In all that I do: steer my company, develop my employees, and grow the bottom-line, could I stand before God and defend all of my decisions and actions?   

Could you?