How to Improve Employee Retention in Healthcare

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Written by Kayla Tyson Editor, B2C Content, IntelyCare
A physician meets with two of her nurses to discuss a treatment plan.

Healthcare organizations across the U.S. are dealing with high turnover rates and other unique staffing challenges. If you’re facing difficulties finding staff for your facility or residence, you’re likely looking for some advice about how to improve employee retention.

The hiring process is no easy undertaking and it can be disheartening when positions don’t stay filled for very long. In this article, we’ll explore some important considerations if you’re hoping to increase employee retention in your healthcare organization.

Why Employee Retention Is Important

The importance of employee retention is multifaceted. On one hand, low retention is harmful to business because hiring, recruiting, and onboarding new staff is costly. In fact, reports show that high rates of turnover can cost hospitals millions of dollars every year. This has the potential to create serious imbalances in an organization’s budget and contribute to an unsustainable financial situation.

Even more critical than the financial cost, though, high rates of turnover contribute to lower quality of care — specifically, steep declines in the safety, effectiveness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity of a patient’s medical treatment. Since the goal of healthcare is to improve health outcomes for patients, it’s paramount that healthcare organizations take necessary action to improve employee retention.

How to Improve Employee Retention

There are a number of creative ways to retain employees, and they often come down to whether an employee feels safe, valued, and supported in their workplace. Evaluate your organization’s progress in the following categories. Then, use your findings to determine how to retain your best employees with a strategic plan.

1. Make Thoughtful Hiring Decisions

One way to preemptively address retention issues is to make sure that you’re proactive throughout the hiring process. The first step is to create a job description that helps you attract the right candidates, whose qualifications and skills closely align with your organization’s needs.

Your compensation and benefits packages will also impact an employee’s likelihood of staying. Inadequate pay rates can lead to decreases in job satisfaction and cause employees to look elsewhere. Regularly review and adjust your compensation and benefits to align with industry standards and remain competitive.

2. Provide Opportunities for Growth

If your hiring plan is optimized, you might still be wondering how to improve employee retention. Ask yourself: Does your organization offer growth opportunities? Your commitment to the growth of your staff will greatly impact their willingness to stay.

You can display this commitment through professional development programs that support employees’ clinical practice and give them the training required for role advancement. These types of programs require purposeful planning, time, and resources, and should occur on a regular basis.

Healthcare professionals also want to know that they have the opportunity to make career advancements within your organization. Your leadership team should offer guidance about how to progress within the healthcare field and support employees in achieving their career goals.

3. Welcome Varying Perspectives

Employees want to be heard. It’s imperative that their perspectives are included in your organization’s decision-making processes because they have a unique view of how policies look in real time. Maintain transparent communication channels between your management teams and staff, such as open-door policies and employee surveys.

Another way to value perspectives is to welcome diversity and prioritize cultural competence throughout your organization. Learn about the diverse backgrounds of your patients and staff, acknowledge and value differences, and take action to address any disparities in outcomes. This will contribute to a culture of respect that encourages employees to stay.

4. Prioritize Wellness and Safety

Employee wellness is key when answering the question of how to improve employee retention. It’s essential that healthcare professionals feel that their well-being is valued, and physical safety is one of the first things to address if you want to improve wellness in your facility. Check in with your staff through surveys to determine what concerns they may have about workplace safety, and take meaningful action to address any issues.

There are a number of other strategies to improve wellness. You can create wellness programs run by a committee of staff and administrators, allow adequate breaks, offer scheduling flexibility that encourages work-life balance, and enlist the support of outside groups like wellness coaches.

5. Cultivate Meaningful Connections

We’ve established the importance of clear communication, but it’s important to note that the connections throughout your organization should go beyond surveys and feedback forms. One of the ultimate goals of clear communication channels is to create a culture of support and respect that makes employees feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Make investments in building a strong company culture that maintains ethical standards, values collaboration, and recognizes the achievements of team members. Studies show that a positive company culture leads to increased job satisfaction, so investments in this area can have a direct impact on employee retention.

Employees Look for Great Leaders

Quality leadership is essential as you learn how to improve employee retention. Prioritize your growth as a leader, stay up to date with industry insights, and receive helpful nursing industry advice with IntelyCare’s free newsletter.