Burnout has been the buzzword surrounding the healthcare industry for several years now — and it doesn’t appear to be letting up any time soon.
The physical and emotional burden of caretaking has taken a toll on many in this field. When this happens, nurses and caregivers start looking for jobs elsewhere — and now they have the luxury of finding other work in other industries that won’t make the same emotional and physical demands. As a result, your occupancy is impacted and your bottom line takes a hit.
But what can you do to drive retention?
For starters, you need to switch your mindset. Stop thinking of pay as your only way of retaining talent; instead, look at the holistic experience employees have at your facility. When you think in emotional terms in this way, you are empowered to think out of the box for solutions. Believe it or not, the answer isn’t always money either.
In our 2023 Future of Healthcare Hiring Report, over 94% of healthcare recruiters, hiring managers, and HR leaders indicated that they had raised compensation ranges to be more attractive to job seekers — but they were still struggling to source the talent they needed. Consider this a sign of the times: if you’re paying your staff market wages, other benefits and perks that you offer sweeten the deal while gaining your employees’ loyalty.
Read on to learn more about what you can do to earn your staff’s loyalty and trust.
What healthcare workers really want from employers
While we can’t tell you exactly what your staff wants from you as an employer, we have a pretty good idea. In our 2023 State of Healthcare Hiring Report, we asked job seekers currently on the market what feature, if any, would compel them to choose a lower paying option. Interestingly enough, only 9% said nothing would convince them to choose the lower paying offer — meaning that for the other 91% you have the opportunity to compete in other ways that won’t make as much of an impact on your bottom line.
When looking at these results, it’s important to remember that healthcare workers aren’t going to apply for positions that have a compensation that is wildly out of their comfort zone, so you can focus on the other 70% of answers here. You also can’t ensure that your workers will experience fulfilling or enjoyable work, as this is such a personal reaction to the type of work done at facilities. The other three answers, though, are wholly within your power and can drive retention at your facility.
Your nurses and caregivers need to be on the floor at the facility to help patients so they can’t exactly work from home — but there are other ways you can offer your staff flexibility. You could offer workers more PTO so they have more time to recoup and prevent burnout. You could simply let workers pick the shifts that work best for them; sometimes having more of a say in what their work schedule looks like can help employees feel like they have more say in their day-to-day at work. Or, you could offer more breaks to the workers than what’s federally mandated.
Allow for professional development
One of the most impactful ways you can drive retention at your facility is by giving employees the opportunity to develop professionally. While there’s not a singular career path for nurses and other caregivers, there are a multitude of ways that your facility can help foster a growth mindset in your staff.
For starters, consider offering training programs for differing levels of experience, whether that’s through an internal service or providing funds for workers to continue their education on their own time. Be sure to celebrate the big and small achievements as your team makes them, as this can help promote a sense of camaraderie — a must have if you want to drive retention. Also, if you don’t have one yet, establish a mentorship program. While not everyone will want to climb the ladder, those that do will be especially grateful to have a resource like this available to them. You’ll need to create guidelines for this program, such as who is eligible to participate as a mentee and mentor, how long the pair will meet for, and things like that, but the payout is well worth the effort.
Finally, advertise new job vacancies internally before posting them on job boards or social media. This can give employees the feeling that they are preferred candidates (which they should be), as well as lower your overall training costs and improve operational efficiency.
Create a great work culture
Culture, much like integrity, is what is done when no one is watching. You can’t mandate the culture at your facility, but you can take steps to make your work environment an inclusive and enjoyable one. You should show appreciation for your workers whenever you can, whether that means offering them discounted prices for food from the kitchen for their families, access to physical fitness areas after their shifts, or simply congratulating workers for their accomplishments.
You should make it a point to thank your staff for all that they do; Nurses Week comes only once a year, but gratitude can be demonstrated year round. This is more than just pizza parties and available snacks, to be clear. You should also highlight staff who have been at your organization for a while, experienced career mobility at your facility, and celebrate any growth by your workers on your social media and career site. When your staff feel appreciated and know that you genuinely care about them, you’ll be one step closer to gaining their loyalty — and ultimately decreasing your turnover rate.
What should my facility do to drive retention?
These are great options to start gaining your worker’s loyalty — but your workers would be the best place to start. Begin with a survey that simply asks employees what they would truly appreciate. If it would make their answers more candid, allow staff to fill this out anonymously so you can receive honest feedback. The key is to actually figure out ways that you can implement their ideas into your people policy so that your team feels appreciated and comes to appreciate you and your facility as their employer.
Download The Modern Healthcare Worker to learn more about what the average healthcare job seeker values the most in their search so you can approach staffing with a holistic approach.