Using Data To Help Improve Healthcare Staff Retention

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

As analytics moves from tech buzzword to power core business operations, healthcare systems are increasingly digging into how they can use data to improve staff retention, as well as enhance hiring, development, and other practices that affect operational efficiency, revenues, patient care, and satisfaction.

Data can do all that and more, say Bryan Warren, Director of Healthcare Solutions at Select International, and Dr. Ted Kinney, Select’s Vice President of Research and Development, both of whom use data to build effective hiring, development, and leadership programs.

For starters, look at how data can analyze and prevent turnover. Warren sets that up as three primary buckets of predictors:

  • Factors external to the organizations, like the local labor market.
  • Factors internal to the organization, such as corporate culture, perceived organizational support, and supervisor fit.
  • Individual attributes and characteristics that are inherent within the person.

“Without a doubt, if you want to reduce turnover, the most powerful thing you can do is to take steps to improve employee engagement,” he says. “These internal drivers of turnover are by far the most important, and most proximal antecedents to turnover decisions. If an employee doesn't like his or her boss, they're a threat to leave, regardless of what the labor markets are like, and regardless of who they are as a person.”

Individual attributes matter as well, he adds, noting that some characteristics are linked to turnover and should be considered in a selection system. A history of job jumping, for example, is a good predictor that someone might be a turnover problem. And all this can be folded into a data stream.

“Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior in all situations, so while this is good information in tracking turnover on all fronts, where data analytics come into play in this context is understanding how to interpret data from your selection system,” Warren says.

Assessments Don’t Work in Isolation

As an IO psychologist, Kinney thinks in highly technical terms around distribution, variance, and coefficients. What that boils down to is that hiring entities are using assessments to connect scores with job performance. But a high score might not always guard against turnover, and so it is important to understand employee engagement as well.

“If you're an employer of choice, if you have competitive pay rates, if you have high scores on engagements, and you still have turnover,” he points out, an organization should look at engagement surveys and see what problems lie there rather than thinking that assessments aren’t serving as a good predictor.

“If your engagement scores are low and you hire only the top talent from your candidate pool, that talent likely has a lot of job alternatives,” he explains. “You may not improve your turnover numbers with your selection program. If you measure engagements and find that you're not where you want to be, then you may want to reevaluate assessment scores in the hiring process. You may want to think about a non-linear interpretation where you select the people in the middle of the assessment scoring distributions. These people will perform well enough, but they also will be the highest likelihood of sticking around, which is a critical metric in these days of low unemployment rates. This is one example where we can use workforce data collected for one purpose and apply it to another talent system to help integrate systems and improve outcomes with a multi-pronged strategy. It’s an important thing to think about.”

There's no single data point that's going to solve this,” Kinney adds. You’ve got to understand several data points. Understanding the local labor market is critically important to understanding the staff, to understanding how to interpret test scores, and to understanding how to improve retention. We're in a time with unprecedented low unemployment rates. This means that there simply is not a lot of talent available, and organizations are feeling the pain of low engagement and low talent supply.

Treat your hiring process like a living organism that resides within a dynamic environment. As the environment changes, like any living organism, your selection system must adapt. Always remember to measure the environment and adapt your processes accordingly. It's okay to lower a cut score and allow more people through that hiring stage than you were before, in better times with more candidates. It's also OK, for example, to use assessments as information only in a more compensatory hiring process design, where the test informs interviewers and is considered as a data point in the final decision-making.”

About Our Experts

Bryan Warren is the Director of Healthcare Solutions at Select International, where he leads the healthcare team and is actively involved with their clients on executive and position leadership selection in development projects. Dr. Ted Kinney is Vice President of Research and Development at Select International, where he focuses on using data to build and implement effective hiring and development programs that support larger business goals.

This blog post is taken from a Webinar. To hear Warren and Kinney’s full discussion, click here.