Employee turnover is one of the costliest challenges faced in healthcare today and only threatens to become more problematic as the demand for care exceeds the available pool of human resources. Estimates indicate that replacing a staff member averages at a cost of an entire year’s salary for that position. The obvious deduction here is that a hospital or practice that doesn’t work on retention will travel an inevitable path to understaffing and even financial insolvency.
Though the turnover statistics for healthcare are only slightly higher than for other professions ( a .5 difference, according to a survey from salary consultation firm, Compensation Resources, the inspiration for departure does vary from other professions. Many human resource managers assume the general rules apply, however, and turn to bumping up benefits or salary in efforts to both attract and retain employees. In fact, in the top three reasons healthcare workers quit, salary and benefits don’t figure at all. Here’s what really needs attention:
1. Bad management
At the head of the list, supplanting all other reasons by a significant margin, are managerial concerns. A bad manager will not consider the effects on employees of erratic scheduling and mandatory overtime. Fitting available pegs into shift holes is hardly a simple task, but just covering shifts does not cut it. Good managers make decisions on both an administrative and human level. Of course, employees are bound to end up with a bad week once in a while but a good rotation, a degree of flexibility, and communication of good intent from management can make all the difference. Consideration like this is a sign of respect that has an individual and personal impact.
2. Disrespect and lack of acknowledgement
It’s the age-old story. There’s backbiting among per diem help and full-time employees, condescension from physicians towards the lower ranks, and again, a sense that management doesn’t see, much less acknowledge the work and flexibility the individual brings to the organization. Even organizations with programs of regular reward often miss the mark by not tailoring praise to the individual employee. Earning “nurse of the month” can seem somewhat meaningless if the rationale behind the award is absent. Workers want to feel that their work has meaning and personal recognition helps to bolster that perception. “This attitude of respect must be a cultural expectation, reinforced by individual managers,” says Kieth Loria of employee retention firm, Strategic Programs. Administrators need to assess the reasons their employees are unhappy and address the problems from the ground up, creating a culture, rather than individual bouts, of respect and collaboration.
3. No training, no advancement
Though perhaps the most difficult-to-remedy of the top three reasons healthcare workers quit, a lack of vision for the future is more of a responsibility for administrators than employees. Healthcare workers are highly specialized, but that doesn’t mean they want to rest in a current position. Organizations need to work to clarify possible opportunities for advancement and offer the means to get there. These opportunities mean more to employees than better pay or compensation packages. Training programs bolster employee engagement and a sense of belonging – and therefore loyalty – within the workplace. Help your employees grow and they’re more likely to stay with you as they advance. Implementation should not be avoided due to expense. The long-term revenue saved by not replacing errant staff will more than compensate.
If you haven’t polled exiting healthcare workers, you may not know what makes them leave for greener pastures and without that information, you’re bound to make the wrong changes. The first step to combat high turnover rates is always to fully understand the reasons healthcare workers quit. Improving the sense of inclusion and respect within the organization and individually is a good place to start in any case. Your business is only as strong as your staff. We're here to help you hold on to your talent- and to help you find new employees.