5 Creative Healthcare Retention Strategies for Your Facility

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Written by Diana Campion, MSN, APRN, ANP-C Education Development Nurse, Content Writer, IntelyCare
A group of nurses and physicians, talking and smiling.

While the focus of short-staffing discussions tends to lean toward nursing, the entire U.S. healthcare industry of over 15.1 million workers suffers from attrition at a high price. For example, the average hospital turned over 100.5% of its workforce in the past five years and lost $7.1 million in one year due to higher turnover rates, as reported by Becker’s Hospital Review — making it clear that healthcare retention strategies are needed now more than ever.

As a healthcare leader, you’re responsible for creating a caring and healthy environment where your employees want to work long-term. Developing and maintaining a strong and healthy workforce is an ongoing process. The following strategies can help you meet your staff’s needs as you work to increase retention at your facility.

1. Prioritize Communication

Communication is the key to all successful relationships. Healthcare workers understandably become frustrated and disengaged when they believe their feedback regarding their work conditions goes ignored. For instance, nurses indicated that not feeling listened to or supported were some of the strongest drivers for their intent to leave their job.

The key to healthcare workers feeling heard is for leaders to understand and address the issues causing disillusionment among their staff while recognizing and honoring what their work means to them. Even if your facility uses an employee engagement survey to obtain feedback, it may not occur frequently enough, or be too generic, for you to actively address this issue.

Tip: Employ intelligent listening as one of your healthcare retention strategies to increase employee engagement and prevent turnover. Intelligent listening is a tailored method that facilitates a two-way discussion between leaders and employees — asking the right question, to the right person, at the right time to obtain the information needed to empower leaders to take action.

Example: If your leadership learns from intelligent conversations that childcare is your top staff concern, then you can explore options to offer workplace childcare. Your staff will feel listened to and have a significant pain point alleviated. Considering nearly 80% of healthcare workers are women, this can be an excellent solution to bolster recruiting and retention.

2. Celebrate Diversity

Cultural competence principles in healthcare, which drive actionable steps to help patients and residents feel understood and valued, should transcend to employees for the same reason. Creating a culture that honors diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the healthcare retention strategies that influence an employee’s intent on remaining at their job. Staff members perceive their value to their leadership based on how well people from diverse backgrounds are represented and treated within the organization.

Tip: In addition to providing mandatory education to all employees, create a dedicated committee of staff volunteers that accurately represents your facility and is tasked with implementing DEI initiatives. You’ll get an accurate appraisal of what changes need to be made and build trust and a greater sense of community by creating a safe place for employees to share their voices.

Example: If a good percentage of your team and residents belong to a specific culture, your committee can host a catered staff lunch offering samples of typical cultural dishes. A staff or community representative can speak on how their culture impacts their wellness and their experience within the healthcare system during lunch. This allows the entire team to bond over a meal while gaining valuable insight into the lives of their coworkers and residents.

3. Promote Staff Wellness

Nearly 67% of healthcare workers at organizations that were not fulfilling promises to focus on employee mental health and provide self-care resources contemplated leaving their jobs, according to one survey. Creating a staff wellness program or initiatives can complement your existing healthcare retention strategies by nurturing the health and well-being of your team and cultivating a positive environment where they feel supported and don’t want to leave.

Tip: The focus of a staff wellness program or initiative is to provide restorative support to help healthcare staff members decompress and counteract prolonged stress while building resilience, which is defined as the ability to successfully adapt to difficult experiences through mental, emotional and behavioral flexibility and adjust to demands. It is best if your company works with your nurses so together you can develop a program to best fit their needs.

Examples:

  • Provide mealtime coverage for your staff so they can leave the floor or unit for a restorative break and enjoy an uninterrupted 30-minute break.
  • Dedicate a quiet recharge room, space permitting, designed with nature scenes, music, and aromatherapy for staff to sit and unwind, even practicing meditation or relaxation exercises.
  • Offer a paid subscription to a mental health and wellness app, such as Calm, HeadSpace, or UCLA Mindful, so team members counteract stress in the comfort of their own homes.
  • Develop a voluntary peer support system where staff members are paired up to check-in, engage, and follow-up with each other to see if they are alright or need support.
  • Contract a massage therapist or yoga instructor to provide weekly onsite services for free to enjoy.

4. Share Gratitude

The definition of gratitude is a positive emotion that involves being thankful and appreciative and is associated with mental and physical health benefits. Employees feel seen and valued when leaders express their thanks and appreciation for their employees’ hard work and efforts. Implementing gratitude can improve retention, resilience, and job satisfaction while fostering a healthy work environment and can be one of the most impactful healthcare retention strategies.

Tip: Expressing gratitude doesn’t have to involve big displays or be expensive. It’s essential to let your employee know you acknowledge their hard work and the value they bring to the organization.

Example: Write a handwritten thank you note to a team member who provided excellent patient care during a difficult situation. Personalize the note to include what makes them a valuable asset to the team, along with a gift card to their favorite coffee shop.

5. Teach Positive Leadership Skills

Managers with poor interpersonal skills can derail a positive work culture and the best retention strategies. Employees have cited their managers as one of their top job stressors, highlighting the need for people skills in leadership positions. Strong leaders increase retention and empower their teams to succeed, innovate, and grow.

Tip: Providing your management team with leadership skills training and helping them find a mentor sets your entire facility up for success.

Example: You have a strong clinical nurse that you promoted to nurse manager. While she doesn’t have extensive management experience, she possesses the qualities of a good nurse leader. To support her role as a leader, enroll her in leadership classes through the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) Nurse Management Institute and pair her with the manager of a similar department as a resource to lean on for support and ask questions.

Stay Informed on Ways to Increase Staff Retention

Now that you have some creative healthcare retention strategies to try out, you’ll also want to remain informed of new ways to help your team as they emerge. Keep up to date on how to maintain a healthy and long-lasting workforce through IntelyCare’s healthcare newsletter.