How Healthcare Employers Can Overcome Unprecedented Turnover

How Healthcare Employers Can Overcome Unprecedented Turnover
Senior Director of Marketing

It’s not just your organization — turnover is rampant across healthcare employers. According to Leaders for Today, a hospital management staffing firm, 37 percent of respondents plan to leave their current employer in the next two years, and more than 68 percent plan to leave within five years.

And while those numbers apply to all healthcare employees, the stakes get even higher when you look at care providers. A report from NSI Nursing Solutions says the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN can range from $38,900 to $59,700, with the average hospital losing $5.1 million to $7.9 million a year because of this.

The problem is that employees feel they can readily go elsewhere. “Healthcare employees have many options with respect to places to work,” says Tawanda Johnson, President of RKL Resources, a healthcare HR consulting firm. “There is no shortage of healthcare jobs; the competition is fierce.” The challenge for healthcare HR is to improve their own organizations to improve retention.

Here are some tips for lowering turnover.

Improve Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a big factor in employee retention, and an engagement initiative at your organization can help determine what employees like about working there and what needs to change. Kristin Baird, President and CEO of Baird Group, a healthcare consulting firm, says conducting employee engagement surveys is a best practice when it comes to retention.

Use these surveys to learn where the opportunities are, and use the data to drive your engagement strategy, Baird says. Because managers play a strong role in engagement levels, you’ll need to target efforts at that level. “A highly engaged culture requires leadership development that focuses on coaching individuals at every level of the organization,” Baird says.

Examine Your Culture

Burnout is a major risk in healthcare, and it’s possible your organizational culture is contributing to the problem. While healthcare organizations need to set high expectations and performance goals, a hard-charging culture that leaves no room for learning or balance can drive people away over time.

Johnson recommends soliciting feedback often from employees. “Many organizations wait until an employee quits to capture feedback during the exit interview process,” she says. “I encourage companies to solicit feedback from employees at least twice a year.” When organizations want to be an employer of choice and show they care about employee feedback, employees are willing to provide open and honest feedback, she says.

Reward and Recognize

People like to be recognized for the work they do, and if they don’t get that recognition, they’ll soon leave for a place where they will. Acknowledging people’s efforts goes a long way toward building strong employee sentiment, so look for ways to do so as part of your retention efforts.

“Reward and recognize employees who go above and beyond,” Johnson says. This can be as easy as having the manager send an email to employees acknowledging their amazing work or giving a gift card, she says. Larger efforts could be rewarded with bonuses and incentives or public recognition.

Revisit Pay and Benefits Regularly

Competition for talent is fierce in healthcare, and if your compensation doesn’t stack up, employees will look at what your competitors are offering. “When you think about an employee being every organization's greatest asset, you want to make sure they are compensated well,” Johnson says. “Don't lose a rockstar employee to a competitor over 25 cents.”

Examine your pay, benefits and incentive model to make sure it matches your overall HR strategy. Benchmark them against other organizations in the geographic area and industry to ensure they stand out from the competition. Look into low-cost and high-value employee benefits such as flexible scheduling and voluntary benefits to make packages even more valuable.

Turnover can be a tough problem to solve, but it’s an important one, as it creates problems with staffing and continuity of care, Baird says. By tackling it on multiple fronts, healthcare organizations can stay ahead of it and set themselves on a path to being an employer of choice.

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