How to Reduce Staff Turnover in Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities
Retaining good employees is an issue in every industry, but with long hours and emotionally draining work, retaining healthcare workers has its own special challenges. Then there’s the costs of replacing doctors, nurses and other employees with specific skill sets and certifications. It soon becomes clear that retention is, by necessity, a high priority for many healthcare organizations.
The Problem with Turnover
“Turnover has a significant impact on patient satisfaction and treatment outcomes and affects staff productivity,” says Hadley Rakowski, Executive Director for Foot and Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic. Then there’s the price tag — according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the cost of replacing a single nurse can range anywhere from $22,000 to more than $64,000.
The stakes can seem higher in healthcare, where organizations work to provide deeply personal service while trying to keep an eye on the bottom line. “In healthcare, medical science dictates the expected level of care, but a medical experience is so much more,” says Ben Baldwin, Founder and CEO of job listing platform ClearFit. “In a care facility, it's the doctors and nurses behavior around the patients and families that truly influences the experience at their facility.”
There are many reasons people leave their healthcare jobs. According to a study by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, nurses left clinical settings because of unfriendly workplaces, emotional distress related to patient care, and fatigue and exhaustion. Another study by the Physicians Foundation found 6 out of 10 doctors would leave the industry if they could afford to quit.
It’s paramount that healthcare organizations pay attention to turnover rates and do what they can to mitigate them. “Healthcare organizations, or any organization for that matter, can reduce turnover to ensure that employees don't want to leave the organization with a few basic principles,” Rakowski says.
Culture, Training and Engagement Can Reduce Turnover
Having a strong mission at your organization can help make it clear to employees what’s expected and what their options are if something isn’t right. “Lead by example and live your mission,” says Rakowski.
Culture is key when it comes to retention, Baldwin says. “The smartest care facilities invest their resources in developing a strong culture,” he says. “They use it not only to create a great experience for patients, but to recruit and retain their best care workers. In healthcare, it's easy to get lost in the medical science and forget that it's all about people, so the ones that build a strong culture are the ones that win.”
PI Worldwide recommends managing early interactions with new employees through onboarding programs that provide multiple check-ins to ensure they understand the culture and values of the organization.
Rakowski says training employees for success is another key to boosting retention. Employees want to see the kind of future they can have at an organization, as well as the path they need to take to get there. More training generally translates to better care for patients as well.
Finally, taking the time to look at employee engagement can pay off in the long run. “Recognize accomplishments within the organization, and listen to what is being said,” Rakowski says. “Engaging employees in any organization starts from the top down. Leaders need to be committed to the process of employee engagement as a method of reducing turnover.”
There will always be employees who feel they don’t have what it takes to stay in a high-pressure job in healthcare, but if organizations pay attention to factors such as culture, training and engagement, they may be able to reduce turnover and improve experiences for both employees and patients.