Retention Strategies for the Care Continuum: Training and Workforce Development

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Staff retention has grown to be one of the most significant challenges across the care continuum, affecting the entire healthcare industry. This blog post is the first of four excerpting the HealthStream article, “Solving the Retention Problem Across the Care Continuum.”

The growth in retention’s importance 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 bottom line is that turnover is expensive, 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).

Training and Workforce Development Opportunities

One important tool is training and staff development. In an article from McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, author Alyssa Salela references one industry expert, who states, “Employees feel more rewarded when they have tools to do a great job, which leads to higher retention rates” (Salela, 2017). 

An article from Provider Magazine discussed multiple organizations that have demonstrated success in keeping employees, identifying one commonality: organizations with higher retention rates provide opportunities for individual employee development and growth on many levels. The author Joanne Smikle suggests multiple examples, “ranging from advanced training being important to CNAs, to the focus on leadership development for administrators, to the excitement of being offered the chance to try a new role for an admissions staff person.” The article quotes an individual employee, who states, “The company has helped me in so many ways, such as personal and professional development. I have always been given the opportunity to participate in different committees. I have had input in making decisions and then seeing them come to life. They just give you so much opportunity” (Smikle, 2015). 

According to the same article, “While it is easy to pay lip service to valuing human capital, this research makes it clear that skillful human capital utilization requires a clear, compelling strategy. That strategy should include attention to creating an organizational culture and a climate that generates goodwill. It should also focus on a clear strategy for developing talent at all levels of the organization.” The ultimate result of such an investment is that employees end up staying because they feel their employers are committed to them. Smikle suggests that “Employers can measure their degree of commitment to employees by thoroughly analyzing their policies and procedures from the employee’s perspective. Cumbersome, antiquated policies and practices do not signal commitment to the employee” (Smikle, 2015). 


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

Sherwood, Rick, “Employee Engagement Drives Health Care Quality and Financial Returns,” Harvard Business Review, October 30, 2013, Retrieved at

Smikle, Joanne, “Why They Stay: Retention Strategies For Long Term Care,” Provider Magazine, November 2015, Retrieved at http://www.provider­

Download the full article here.