Many industries undergo high employee turnover rates. Yet few, if any, industries experience the same level of impact that healthcare turnover bears when it comes to the resignation of its employees. Many healthcare employees–doctors, surgeons, nurses, aides–are responsible for providing care for patients, making it all the more disruptive when professionals decide to leave an organization. The flow of patients isn’t expected to ebb, but healthcare employees are hopping between campuses, hospitals, clinics and practices.
The healthcare turnover rate has left many administrators with skeleton staffs or with an overwhelming lack of skilled professionals. As Brandon Hall Group points out, in non-healthcare organizations 0 to 4 percent of skilled workers contribute to the turnover rate. However, in stark contrast, healthcare organizations experience 16 to 30 percent of skilled worker turnover rates – more than 4 times the rate than any other industry. Each additional percentage point increase in turnover costs the average hospital upwards of $350,000.
Why is Healthcare Turnover So Frequent?
Healthcare is different from many other industries. Professionals in this industry sector hold varying degrees, certifications and experience that strictly revolve around clinical and medical services. In short, healthcare employees have a very defined role and sets of responsibilities in comparison to other types of industries where job roles provide more flexibility with shifting paradigms. For instance, picture a nurse and picture a marketer–from an outsider’s perspective it’s much easier to imagine and define the familiar medical responsibilities of a nurse than that of a marketer. A nurse has a degree or certification that is required to practice medicine, whereas a marketer can come from nearly any educational background or industry.
Yet, with such clear cut and straightforward titles, roles and responsibilities comes increased confidence in the job market. Those working in the healthcare industry have numerous employment options in cities and towns across the nation. Amy Kaminski, Vice President of Compensation Data Healthcare, points out that there is a rise in voluntary turnover rates because key employees have a variety of options when it comes to where they want to work. Adding to healthcare turnover rates, many workers feel burnt out at their jobs. Some reasons for burnout include:
- Understaffing (ironically)
- Heavy workloads and demanding hours
- Insurance red tape and bureaucratic paperwork
- Lack of recognition from employers and management
Additionally, the healthcare industry places high pressure on its workforce to employ new standards and changing codes (like ICD-10), fostering qualms among workers and management when proper training programs are not rolled out to prepare employees for these newly enforced standards. If healthcare workers continually feel burdened by any combination of these factors, they’re more likely to begin looking at other organizations with available positions.
Healthcare Turnover is Costly for Everyone
Healthcare turnover is a self-perpetuating phenomenon in the healthcare industry. When a healthcare employee decides to leave, other employees are likely to follow soon after. When an employee leaves, the workload increases for remaining employees and impacts the quality of patient care. As satisfaction plummets within the patient network, the healthcare organization’s image and reputation begins to falter, affecting profitability and recruiting of skilled employees.
“It costs on average between $44,380 and $63,400 for the turnover of a single RN.”
With healthcare turnover comes a lot of varying costs burdened on remaining employees, patients and employers. TINYpulse, a company that specializes in reporting and advising on employee engagement, reported that it takes a hospital between 36 and 97 days to hire a replacement for an experienced registered nurse (RN). Further, it costs on average between $44,380 and $63,400 for the turnover of a single RN. Outside of monetary costs, healthcare organizations experience a decreased quality of patient care and increased staffing costs with higher rates of both accidents and absenteeism.
Create a Strategic Plan
Healthcare executives have to discover why their organizations are experiencing high turnover rates before embarking on steps to remediation. One suggestion is to send out a general survey across the entire organization to catalog, measure and baseline the level of organizational satisfaction across the whole. This can be followed up by another survey designed for specific departments or for specific job roles, zooming in on the levels of satisfaction influenced by possible environmental and job-related stress.
The results of this survey lay down the foundation for architecting a strategic plan. It’s imperative to communicate with staff after the surveys have been completed that the organization is aware that there are issues when it comes to workplace happiness. Clear communication bides some time to create a strategic plan and establishes awareness that concerns are being carefully considered. It’s even more important to actually follow up with a plan that works on strategically amending the woes of workers. When healthcare management addresses employees’ concerns, the healthcare turnover rates are likely to lower in volume and frequency.
Build a Strong Culture
Once a strategic plan that addresses employees’ ongoing concerns has been implemented, it’s equally important to build a strong organizational culture. Workplace culture is shaped by the organization’s values. Increase employee awareness by placing high-impact posters that state organizational values and organizational vision throughout nurses’ stations, the reception area or in management offices. These posters will help to continually reflect the healthcare organization’s workplace culture and values.
Likewise, cultural values should be incorporated into employee onboarding and ongoing training. Administrators can honor the value of training and re-training by rewarding employees who consistently exhibit organizational values with high performance. Showing praise and rewarding these healthcare workers will show other employees that their employers appreciate and recognize hard work and dedication. Appreciation and recognition will encourage employees to continually strive to deliver cultural values within their service, in turn creating an environment of growth with objectives they can work towards.
Broaden Recruitment Strategies
Frequently, healthcare campuses are limited in the breadth of talent when it comes to recruiting new staff. A Brandon Hall Group Skills Gap Survey reports that 90 percent of healthcare organizations are having difficulty hiring skilled workers. This is not a reflection on the healthcare workforce, but rather a reflection of geographical restrictions on behalf of organizations. The same talent pool is usually drawn from during recruitment because healthcare employees don’t get the luxury of working from home or remotely – the majority of healthcare job positions mandate employees to be physically present during working hours.
Advancing recruitment outreach strategies is a conversation that needs to take place between executives, management, operations and HR staff. A plan must be composed that makes jobs with higher healthcare turnover rates more appealing to candidates. Healthcare workers will appreciate job opportunities with flexible scheduling, career development programs and better compensation and benefits. Jobs that offer better perks than competing organizations can offer will increase the number of job candidates. With a broadened pool to choose from, recruiters can take the cream of the crop through developed assessment tools that evaluate the interests and motivation of applicants.
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