Insights Blog



By QLK Team
on Jul 24, 2019
  • Healthcare
Overcoming Workforce Shortages in Healthcare Through Employee Retention

Over the past few years, healthcare leaders have been struggling to overcome the challenges of hiring talent during a workforce shortage. Making matters worse, it is not a challenge that is going to be solved soon as it stems from a number of factors. The issue is so complex and pressing, that the U.S. Senate has spent time trying to find a solution to the escalating issue.

Among the primary causes are that the country is experiencing the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, baby boomers are reaching retirement age, and fewer people are entering the healthcare field than in years past. This nasty cocktail of labor trends has induced hiring headaches for healthcare organizations around the country.

How can healthcare organizations best handle the current hiring landscape?

For starters, they can try to avoid hiring by prioritizing employee retention.

The Cost of Employee Turnover

Employee turnover is not a challenge unique to the healthcare industry. However, healthcare has struggled far more than others to solve the issue. According to a study by Compdata Surveys, healthcare was second only to hospitality in turnover rate at 20.6% in 2017.

Turnover takes a tremendous toll on your organization's bottom line. For hospitals, forecasting experts project that the annual cost of employee turnover to be between $5.13M and $7.86M.

Employee turnover is not something that can be eliminated outright, but by actively working to increase employee retention healthcare leaders will see their turnover numbers reduced.

Improve Employee Satisfaction by Listening

The happier your team is, the more likely it is that they'll stick around. Healthcare organizations usually do a great job of stressing the importance of patient satisfaction. But what about employee satisfaction? Each member of your team will have a different recipe for employee satisfaction. A great way to discover the ingredients is to ask them directly.

Have your management team hold quarterly, or even monthly, one-on-one meetings with their employees to check in on how they're doing. In these meetings, your managers can learn about the challenges their team members are facing, and then try and find solutions that will improve their employee satisfaction. Even if the obstacles can't be solved, knowing that their supervisors are aware of their pain points will provide comfort to your employees.

There are dozens of reasons why an employee will choose to leave an organization. Some are unavoidable, but many can be dealt with through active listening. Listening is an essential trait for any leader to practice. Listening builds relationships and acts as free data to build solutions.

Build Trust Through Improved Communication

Developing communication skills among team members is essential for reducing errors, resolving conflicts, and creating clarity around task assignments. Good communication between leadership and teams is also important, as it allows team members to know where they stand. When employees don't know where they stand, they can begin to question their job security—leading them to possible start exploring other opportunities.

When healthcare leaders clearly communicate expectations and organizational goals, teams are better able to prioritize tasks and understand how their roles fit into the larger strategy of the organization. Clear lines of communication also give employees points of contact, where they know they can get answers to their questions.

Professional Development

Developing a continuing professional development plan for your entire team should be essential to any workforce retention plan. Not only do your patients reap the benefits of a better-informed workforce, but there's also a loyalty aspect that becomes ingrained within your employees. This ultimately leads to longer retention.

Professional Development can include any of the following:

  • Continuing Education
  • Cultural Competency Training
  • Mentoring
  • Consultation
  • Research

Increased Compensation

Money talks. One of the primary reasons that an employee leaves an organization is for a pay raise elsewhere. As is always the case when there are supply issues, compensation is increasing throughout healthcare as a result of the dearth in talent.

Your organization can try and get out ahead of turnover by providing market corrections to your team's compensation packages. While salaries will always be the most appealing increase, organizations can also modify their employee's benefits and bonuses to help deter turnover.

When deliberating on how much of an increase to offer, keep in mind how costly turnover is for your company and how much you'll have to pay a replacement. A slight overpay in salary can quickly offset the incurred price of turnover if it promotes deeper employee loyalty.

QLK Executive Search

By embracing the importance of employee retention, your healthcare organization can mitigate the cost of turnover and decrease the number of times you must undertake the hiring process.

Need help identifying a dynamic healthcare leader who can improve your organization's approach to employee retention? Contact QLK Executive Search today and let us know of the healthcare position you're looking to fill.