Turnover in the healthcare industry is at an all-time high. The average turnover in US hospitals in 2020 was at 19.5% – that’s an increase of 1.7% since 2019. Since 2016, the average hospital has experienced a 90% turnover of its workforce. Low morale, burnout, poor working conditions, management issues, and low wages are some of the reasons why we’re facing turnover in such epic proportions. Nearly 70% of nurses experience burnout, while 44% think their constant fatigue could come in the way of patient care.
Attrition is costly to any industry, but this is particularly so in healthcare. A Health Care Management Review found that the cost of turnover at a major healthcare center resulted in a loss that was more than 5% of the total annual operating budget. But the loss isn’t only monetary; if an RN quits, it’s the overtaxed colleagues who have to fill in until a replacement arrives. Even when the vacancy is filled, it could take months to get the new hire to adapt to the process and speed up work.
Today, patients are rarely looked after by one physician. Teamwork has become critical to optimal, i.e., when doctors, RNs, therapists, etc., work as a team, they have a better chance of delivering effective patient care. A cohesive team helps minimize errors and potential adverse events through proper communication and better decision-making.
People who work together long enough can trust each other and rely on the team to improve the patient experience. When teams are fragmented or populated by interim staff, the team lacks cohesion, leading to stress and burnout. Staff that chooses to stay end up overworked and drained. This leads to undesirable pressure, causing the problem to spiral out of control.
Constant hiring and running orientation programs for recruits can drain an organization’s resources and patience. It also creates an atmosphere of mistrust and could even lead to micromanagement. While it is important to ease recruits into work, it hardly counts as a good retention strategy.
To create a robust retention strategy, one must understand the bare and basic facts related to attrition. You must gather data about who is leaving, why they are leaving, how long employees stay, etc. You must also study the impact that such employees have on the people left behind and your workforce’s overall morale. But most importantly, you must seek suggestions from employees about how things can change at work.
Micro-management may end in the near-perfect results you want, but excessive control over a task breaks team morale and leads to frustration. This could also tempt independent-minded employees to seek opportunities elsewhere, where they feel trusted. Employees need to feel they are making progress and are provided plenty of opportunities to develop their skills.
Independent and confident employees like the feeling that they contribute to the solution and are making a difference. Also, deliverable products are much easier to assess when compared to minute-by-minute oversight.
AI has changed the world we live in, but it is yet to overtake human beings. Naturally, every people-centric policy must focus on genuine appreciation and recognition. Irrespective of what people derive from work, there can be nothing more precious than the feeling that they have contributed unique value to the whole.
The recognition needn’t be huge – even the smallest gesture can help improve working relationships and productivity. And if you think monetary rewards are enough – think again. Would you be happy if the financial recognition isn’t followed by a word or two of appreciation? I know I would be uncomfortable.
When managers appreciate the extra time or effort put in by team members, the staff are motivated to work. But the gesture must be genuine – not lavish, but definitely meaningful.