The Intentional Pursuit of Your Best Healthcare Employees

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021
This blog post excerpts an article in the Winter 2015 issue of HealthStream's Healthcare Workforce Advisor, our quarterly magazine designed to bring you thought leadership and best practices for developing the healthcare workforce.

There are dozens of statistics on healthcare turnover. Regardless of which figure one cites, they all point to the fact that adequate staffing is a serious issue affecting providers everywhere. It is not going to be getting any easier in the foreseeable future.  

Healthcare workforce turnover has a negative impact on labor costs, such as recruiting, lost productivity, and training. When a high-performing member of a team leaves, the cost is even greater. The individual’s knowledge and experience leave too, along with his or her positive impact on team members, patients, and the organization.  

Work unit cohesiveness is disrupted or declines while the burden to maintain performance standards increases for remaining staff, adding to already high stress levels. If not proactively addressed, the chronic loss of good employees will eventually lead to deterioration in workforce satisfaction and patient care, along with the hospital’s ability to meet new demands and challenges. Consequently, developing a proactive strategy to retain quality healthcare workers is critically important to any hospital’s future health and effectiveness.

There are a number of important elements to consider for a good retention strategy—this article does not attempt to explore them all. Instead, it focuses on what your organization can do to be proactive and stay ahead of the curve so your best employees stay your best employees—and don’t become someone else’s.

What Is a High Performer?

The term “high performer” is used quite frequently, but what does it really mean to a hospital and its patients? A high performer pairs a high level of compassion with clinical excellence to serve patients. Such individuals possess important characteristics, including confidence, patient focus, and learning agility.

 When engaged, high performers can have a strong emotional bond with your organization, taking personal ownership of its mission, vision, and values. These individuals are more likely to go the extra mile to do something good for your organization that is not expected of them. They are also more likely to contribute ideas for improvement and assist team members without being asked. Given the right opportunities for growth, these employees can become organizational catalysts—inspiring and influencing others to become top performers and make a real difference in your organization.

Retention Starts at Recruitment

So how does a hospital keep its best employees? It starts by getting them in the first place. A good and retainable candidate has the right skills, job, and culture fit for your organization from the beginning. The practice of hiring candidates we know little about and then trying to align them with organizational requirements can actually undermine a retention strategy and fuel turnover.

Hiring the best employees for your organization requires the use of screening tools in the selection process that assess individual skills and behavioral qualities against your standards and requirements.  This provides a greater understanding of an individual beyond what’s provided on a résumé. As Dr. Karlene Kerfoot said in a recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review, “You have to have data… the biggest nurse staffing mistake that hospitals are making—not having and using data to drive decisions.” A hospital can never achieve a high-performing culture with an unhealthy percentage of misaligned and misfit employees. Data-driven hiring helps organizations find the best employees up front, improving their good-to-poor hire ratios and strengthening their culture with high performers who can influence and inspire marginal and disconnected healthcare workers to do better.

This remainder of this article includes: 

  • Recruiting Is More Than a Job Post
  • Retention Requires Meaningful Reinforcement
  • Retention Provides a Voice to All
  • Key Findings about Manager Versus Employee Perceptions
  • Retention Is About Give and Take
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