While staff turnover represents a costly issue for any industry, the ever-rising turnover rates at healthcare facilities throughout the country are among the highest in recent history. Hospitals, assisted living communities and alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers are all searching for solutions to address the costly challenges associated with this growing trend.
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According to a recent report, the staff turnover rate for the healthcare industry has risen nearly 5% in the last decade. The National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report notes that the average hospital turnover rate in 2017 reached 18.2%. This marks the highest recorded turnover rate for the health care industry in nearly a decade. Since 2013, the average hospital witnessed a remarkable 85.2% turnover of its workforce. So how should you manage staff turnover at your healthcare facility?
Combat the high cost of turnover by focusing on keeping new employees engaged.
New hires tend to represent the bulk of staff turnover for most facilities. The Annals of Family Medicine states that 53.3% of employees leave their facility within two years and 23.8% of all new staff members left within a year – accounting for 32% of all turnover in the industry. Experts have noted that the turnover rate in healthcare is second worst only to the hospitality industry.
The bottom line is that employees have plenty of options for healthcare jobs.
Adding to the increased pressure of retaining employees is the robust healthcare job market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the healthcare unemployment rate was at a decade low of 2.5% in April 2017. The result is a restless workforce that can go anywhere it pleases at any time.
Organizations have tried an array of initiatives to keep employees in place. Using results of staff satisfaction surveys, they have reviewed compensation, provided professional development, and instituted programs such as flex time, awards programs, and retention bonuses, all with little to no impact on turnover.
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The high cost of turnover in healthcare organizations:
Employee turnover impacts several critical areas of the business, which each negatively impact the bottom line in its own way. Staff and overtime pay costs, training costs, staff workloads, patient care continuity, accident rates, as well as employee and patient satisfaction are all negatively impacted by the high turnover rate.
While each of those affects business performance and costs at varying levels, the hard numbers are difficult to dispute. Although positions in the field will impact the bottom line differently, experts suggest the average churn cost is around $60,000 per employee.
For example, the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN is estimated at $49,500 but costs can range from $38,000 to $61,100 depending on the hospital and location. Some reports estimate that replacing a physician is at least $200,000 but can reach as high as $1 million per exiting doctor. According to Monster.com, the cost of turnover at one major medical facility represented a loss of more that 5% of the total operating budget.
How to identify the root of the problem.
Understanding the cause of the issue is the first step into treating it. There are likely several factors to employee turnover at any given facility: increasing job opportunities as previously mentioned, the retirement rates of an aging, baby-boomer workforce and of course, habitual job hoppers. However, many healthcare professionals suggest that the key element to this critical issue revolves around a facility’s ability to improve workplace engagement. Greater employee engagement can reduce employees’ consideration for other jobs, help attract better talent in a tight field, and increase the satisfaction rates of your key staff.
The issue of employee engagement has been seen as so critical it was one of the core topics of the 2018 HR Tech conference held in Las Vegas earlier this year.
How to recruit high performers and retain your top talent.
The first step retaining key personnel is hiring the right personnel. According to Healthcare Source: “Hiring those who don’t fit-in culturally and lack alignment with the organization’s mission, vision, and values can have a negative impact on employee engagement and morale, patient satisfaction and safety, and quality measures such as HCAHPS — impacting reimbursement rates and ultimately the organization’s bottom line.”
Many facilities have witnessed dramatic change in employee satisfaction by working with their HR departments to improve the recruitment process. By seeking candidates who don’t simply have the technical skills for the role, but also align with the organization’s values, facilities can begin to address the issue. While it was once common to take only professional and technical experience into consideration, these overlook an applicant’s other competencies including compassion, customer service, attitude and cultural fit, which may be better indicators of workplace success.
To seek out these key candidate qualities, more healthcare facilities are using behavioral assessments in their recruitment process to help identify top talent.
While there are many to select from, scientifically validated behavioral assessments can quickly asses an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses by comparing their results to an industry standard. Additionally, HR and hiring personnel can benefit from behavioral assessments in a number of ways: to help guide interviews as well as create alignment between the facility’s expectations and candidate’s abilities. Additionally, behavioral assessments can create more structure and consistency to the interview process, which can reduce stress and time considerations for the interviewer allowing them to more easily, and more objectively, identify the most qualified candidates for a specific role. In addition to establishing a more rigorous and thorough hiring process, these assessments provide healthcare organizations with greater peace of mind they’re finding the most qualified staff members.
Retention strategies to keep employees engaged and reduce turnover.
While the hiring process is fundamental to addressing turnover, key elements of employee engagement are often overlooked once candidates become staff members.
Organizations should remember that the interview process doesn’t stop once a candidate is hired. Once an employee is retained, a follow-up is key to ensuring their success. According the Healthcare Finance News, additional interviews at 30, 60 and 90 days will ensure expectations are being met – by both parties. These conversations provide the opportunity to address goals and discuss workplans for accomplishing them.
These discussions will help staff managers learn what motivates an employee, which can vary greatly from person to person. This also helps your staff members feel that the facility is making a personal connection with them, by caring about their interests.
Shorter, regularly scheduled monthly conversations should be considered as well. These distilled, 10-minute talks should center around the questions: “do you have what’s needed to do this job” and “what could be working better.”
A critical component of a successful employee engagement strategy is remembering that these conversations and evaluations represent opportunities for improved performance by both parties. Ultimately this will help your healthcare organization provide better customer service and patient care.
Kreed is the senior content strategist at Redbear. He has lost 3 very close friends and a bandmate to the opioid epidemic. He is passionate about helping people who really need it. He can be found performing or watching live music on most weekends or playing with his dogs down by the Boise River.
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