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Retention Strategies for the Care Continuum: Fostering Community and Connectedness

Holding onto employees has become a major challenge across the care continuum, affecting the entire healthcare industry in terms of quality of care and business and patient outcomes, not to mention patient and family experiences. This blog post is the third of four excerpting the HealthStream article, “Solving the Retention Problem across the Care Continuum.” 

The increasing importance of retention is due not only to the increased size of the care population, but also from the more than 10-year low for unemployment rates (4.3% for May 2017) and the possibility of rising minimum wages across the industry. This growing industry is experiencing an influx of jobs and increase in benefits, making voluntary turnover prevalent among those employees looking for more pay, less stressful work environments, and more positive company culture. In addition, “It is not just the turnover of direct care staff that plagues this profession—administrators and other managers churn as well” (Salela, 2017).

The Cost of Retention

Turnover causes healthcare organizations to incur significant expenses, especially in terms of onboarding costs and the time spent in training new employees. Employee engagement is a key measure for any healthcare organization that is trying to retain competent staff. As one study shares, “It is widely assumed that more-engaged employees stay and contribute [to the organization]. While close to half of disengaged employees will be job hunting in the next 12 months, only one in 10 of those who are highly engaged will be looking for a new job with a different employer. In other words, 90% of highly engaged employees plan to stay with the organization, at least for the near future” (Lowe, 2012). What the research makes clear is that “Improving engagement therefore carries another important advantage for the [healthcare organizations] already competing to find and keep a dwindling supply of people with critical skills, especially in clinical areas” (Sherwood, 2013).

Fostering Community and Connectedness

It’s very important for healthcare employee retention that a workplace seem more like a community and that it foster personal, caring connections among staff. In her article, Smikle shares that “A sense of connectedness emerged as a central, driving factor in commitment and retention. Whether the connections are to managers, peers, or residents, the human connection is a profound and undeniable theme. The voices shared through the interviews told stories of relationships, bonds, and connections.” She adds, “For example, a director summed it up when she said, ‘The atmosphere is like a family atmosphere, where everyone is respected and has a connection with the other one… people are concerned if they don’t see you, they’re concerned about where you are, where you’ve been, what’s going on with you’” (Smikle, 2015).

References

Lowe, Graham, “How Employee Engagement Matters for Hospital Performance,” Healthcare Quarterly, 15(2):29-39 (April 2012, Retrieved at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225296126_How_Employee_Engagement_Matters_for_Hospital_Performance.

Salela, Alyssa, “Training pays off when looking at retention in LTC, panel members say,” McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, June 13, 2017, Retrieved at https://www.mcknights.com/news/training-pays-off-when-looking-at-retention-in-ltc-panel-members-say/article/667998/.

Sherwood, Rick, “Employee Engagement Drives Health Care Quality and Financial Returns,” Harvard Business Review, October 30, 2013, Retrieved at https://hbr.org/2013/10/employee-engagement-drives-health-care-quality-and-financial-returns.

Smikle, Joanne, “Why They Stay: Retention Strategies For Long Term Care,” Provider Magazine, November 2015, Retrieved at http://www.provider­magazine.com/archives/2015_Archives/Pages/1115/Why-They-Stay-Retention-Strategies-For-Long-Term-Care.aspx

Download the full article here.