Four Key Strategies for Improving Staff Retention

With healthcare organizations under increasing pressure to do more with less, the need for skilled, competent, satisfied employees has never been greater. Yet across the healthcare industry, turnover rates are higher than ever and steadily increasing, which is both disruptive and expensive. In fact, the average cost of losing a healthcare employee is $60,000, according to one industry expert.

So what can be done to improve staff attrition rates? Regardless of the setting you practice in, this four-pronged strategy can help you solve the problem by preventing it before it can take root.

Recruit and Hire Competent, Engaged Employees

A good staff retention strategy should start long before the interview phase even begins. Spend more time on the recruiting process in order to identify the strongest candidates using an evidence-based approach.

When recruiting and interviewing employees, assess job fit closely. Job fit is the intersection between an employee’s strengths, needs, and experience and the requirements of a particular role and work environment. Employees who experience job fit are the happiest and most productive.

Finally, attract competent, engaged employees by demonstrating your organization’s commitment to employee satisfaction, career development, clinical skill ladders, and strong leadership. Most job candidates will choose work environments that offer an employee-first culture where they can grow and feel supported.

Transform Your Onboarding Program

One of the biggest mistakes organizations can make after hiring a new employee is providing incomplete onboarding. The onboarding process should be structured, relevant, comprehensive, and thorough, lasting as long as one to two years in the form of ongoing training, support, and feedback.

Even when clinicians are highly experienced in the role they’re being hired for, they still need comprehensive training on how to successfully perform their role within your unique workplace environment. In fact, this study found that new hire turnover at a community hospital decreased from 39.1 percent to 18.4 percent for hospital and nursing staff after the hospital’s onboarding program was strengthened and standardized.

Here are some additional tips for developing a strong onboarding program that sets your new hires up for success:

  • Standardize onboarding programs across your organization in order to ensure consistent, effective training.
  • Personalize programs by identifying gaps in clinical knowledge and providing targeted education programs.
  • Instill a strong culture-based onboarding experience with your own proprietary content.
  • Assess and ensure competency of new hires.
  • Incorporate engaging compliance training.

Cultivate Employee Engagement

Engaged employees perform better, have higher job satisfaction, stay in their jobs longer, and provide higher quality patient care that can drive better outcomes. Here are some key strategies for keeping your employees engaged:

  • Help your staff build clinical and soft skills with ongoing training opportunities.
  • Identify performance gaps across your organization so that you can target and remedy them.
  • Provide career ladders and advancement opportunities through specialized training, certificates, and certificate prep programs.

Develop Strong Leaders

Good leadership can help create resilient teams and a culture of excellence, positivity, and collaboration that helps motivate employees to do their best work. You can build strong leaders across your organization by:

  • Developing emerging leaders through training and mentorship programs and by effectively bridging clinical-to-management role transitions
  • Providing ongoing, high-quality leadership training for new and advanced leaders
  • Training leaders to create an employee-first work culture
  • Helping leaders and teams successfully navigate change and complex, rapidly evolving situations

Build a Culture of Success with an A–Z Approach

Many healthcare employees find their jobs exciting and meaningful yet also stressful. Across the industry, employees are under pressure to deliver quality care and high patient satisfaction scores while navigating new rules, regulations, and legislation and trying to keep costs down.

These factors can result in burnout and staff attrition if they’re not countered with effective strategies. By approaching the problem of staff attrition systematically and holistically from recruiting through the career lifespan, organizations can create engaged, satisfied, and highly skilled employees who deliver excellence.