Keeping employees from leaving has become one of the most important challenges for organizations across the care continuum, affecting much of the healthcare industry in terms of care quality and outcomes, not to mention how patients and their families experience care. This blog post is the fourth 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).
Identification with an Organization’s Mission
Smikle pinpoints the role of identification with the corporate mission as an important contributor to engagement. She suggests that “Crafting a meaningful mission and integrating it into the culture of the organization served the organization in this study well.” In addition, “Employees from all levels and functions mentioned the mission and its impact on their work. Employees repeatedly identified the corporate mission as an important part of how they conduct the business of elder care.” (Smikle, 2015) It’s not hard to extrapolate that other organizations would be well-served by adopting tools and techniques that support their efforts to provide high quality care and encourage staff across the care continuum to feel pride and value “for the effort they exert on behalf of people who cannot help themselves” (Smikle, 2015).
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, 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.
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