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5 Tips to Improve Employee Retention Strategies in Healthcare

How to Reduce Staff Turnover and Reap Tangible Benefits

Employee retention in healthcare is one of the sector’s most pressing concerns. When a member of your staff leaves and you need to hire for healthcare jobs, it disrupts the whole balance of a ward and your hospital.

But do you know how much poor employee retention costs you, and how to reduce that cost and keep your hospital on an even keel (and path to improving profitability)?

The Cost of Poor Employee Retention in Healthcare

Every nurse practitioner, physician, physician assistant, or other member of your staff that moves on leaves a gap that needs to be filled. Each departure is expensive. According to the 2019 National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report:

  • Turnover rate for bedside nurses in hospitals is 17.2%
  • On average, each 1% change in turnover costs (or saves) a hospital $328,400
  • The costs to hospitals suffering the average staff turnover rate is between $4.4 million and $6.9 million each year

And the cost to replace a staff nursing role? The report costs this at a colossal $82,000 – and this is before considerations to overtime work and onboarding and training of the new nurse. Yet it doesn’t have to be like this.

Easy-to-Embed Employee Retention Strategies

A few easy-to-embed strategies will help you to boost your employee retention in healthcare. Here are five key strategies that you can begin to work on today.

1.     Offer Competitive Salaries

It always pays to know what you should be paying. While healthcare is a vocational career – and these employees are certainly more tuned to working to satisfy their purpose rather than simply to collect a paycheck at the end of each month – if you don’t pay the right salary then you risk your best nursing employees going elsewhere.

In short, trying to save a few dollars on each member of your team is likely to be an expensive strategy. If your employee turnover has been edging up recently, it could be your salary scale that’s the problem. Monitoring what you pay against other healthcare providers in your city and state should be a regular HR activity.

2.     Provide a Happy Environment

Hospitals are stressful places to work. Research shows that stress at work is a key factor in employee turnover. Factors that increase stress include:

  • Administrative burden
  • Concerns over safety
  • High workload

If your hospital is suffering from a lack of employees, then burnout is more likely. Increasing employee turnover will increase the three factors we’ve cited here. Consequently, you could find yourself in a downward spiral in which employee turnover increases because of increasing employee turnover.

It’s important to act fast when you see the symptoms of a poor workplace environment creeping in. Such symptoms include:

  • Increased absenteeism
  • Reducing productivity
  • Increases in numbers of accidents/errors
  • Creeping employee turnover

Speak to your staff. Have the conversation and be open to critical feedback. Learn what your people like and dislike about their workplace, and give them more of what they like and reduce – preferably eliminate – what they don’t like.

3.     Ensure Opportunities for Personal Growth

Your people aren’t robots, and the best people want to progress in their careers. One of the most common questions asked in interviews is the “Where do you see yourself in x years?” questions. You ask this type of question because it’s important to employ healthcare professionals who will help your hospital to grow and maintain its reputation.

If you find your employees are leaving after two or three years with you, then it’s likely that you aren’t delivering on your original promise.

In one-to-ones, managers should discover the growth goals of their employees and plan for personal development together. Then they must deliver on their promises – and this means that your hospital must give its managers the tools to deliver, such as budgets and capability for training and development.

4.     Deliver a Work Schedule That Delivers Work/Life Balance

Just like other workers in the economy, nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals desire a life away from work. They need downtime to unwind, do the ‘normal things’, and experience the things they enjoy doing most in life.

Long shifts and unsocial hours are sometimes unavoidable in a hospital setting – especially during unforeseen pandemics. But, if ‘inconsiderate’ shift patterns become routine, you risk rising turnover, which, of course, leads to further dissatisfaction at work and potentially higher staff turnover.

5.     Hire for Retention

Hospitals with the worst employee retention numbers tend to be those who don’t prepare for employee turnover. They react to retention issues rather than act to retain employees.

The longer your next hire stays with you, the more productive they will become, the lower the costs of employee turnover will be, and the more profitable your hospital will become. Where do you start? With your hiring policy.

By understanding what candidates want from their next role, you can design what you offer to attract the best-fit candidates. This is where working with a specialist staffing agency really pays dividends. Their recruiters will go out of their way to understand you and your business, and help you by providing key insights to current market trends and salaries.

A good staffing agency will help find the people whose needs and desires, experience and career goals all dovetail with your offer. A great staffing agency will do even more. They will:

  • Become an advocate for your hospital as an employer of choice
  • Give you access to a wider and deeper talent pool
  • Provide the flexibility you need to meet fluctuating demand

Crucially, a great staffing agency will help you fill your open healthcare jobs faster. The 2019 National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report found that it takes an average of more than three months for healthcare facilities to recruit for a specialized position, and an average of 85 days to hire for a staff nursing position. Do you really have that long?

Contact Palm Health today to learn more about how we work to ensure you hire healthcare professionals who will help you deliver the benefits of high employee retention numbers.