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How To Increase Employee Retention in Healthcare

The healthcare sector is suffering. Find out how to drive employee retention in healthcare today with our expert guide.

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More than one-third (34%) of nurses say it’s very likely that they will leave their roles by the end of 2022. And with this growing nursing shortage, physician burnout is also a rising concern for healthcare business leaders.

Times are harder than ever for those working in the healthcare sector right now and employee retention is more important than ever. As the healthcare industry continues to face nursing strikes, the Great Resignation, high employee turnover and general decreasing job satisfaction, it’s now all the more essential.

Though many business leaders are desperately struggling to engage and retain healthcare employees, there are ways to improve employee retention in healthcare, starting with addressing the factors that contribute to it in the first place.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the numerous different organizational factors that can influence employee retention in the healthcare sector, before diving into exactly how to increase employee retention in healthcare.

So, if you’re a HR leader or manager in a healthcare organization, keep reading to learn how you can successfully retain your valuable employees – and improve patient care in the process.

First, let’s look at the different organizational factors that influence retention in the healthcare sector.

“Staff turnover is a natural and necessary process in all healthcare organizations. However, when turnover reaches high levels it can have a detrimental effect on the quality of care as well as being costly. Further problems arise when employees leave not only the organization but the health workforce itself.”

By understanding and addressing employee retention and the factors that drive it, healthcare leaders and managers can minimize staff attrition, the associated turnover costs, and enhance patient care. 

While there are a number of factors at play here, Health Professional Mobility in a Changing Europe divides the organizational factors affecting retention into three main categories: 

  1. Employment quality
  2. Work quality 
  3. Organizational quality.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at each of these three dimensions and how they affect retention, before diving into actionable initiatives leading to improving employee retention throughout your organization.

Image showing the different organizational factors that effect employee retention in healthcare

1. Employment quality

Employment quality is a key factor in retention and includes things like pay and benefits, job security, and working conditions. Other elements of employment quality relate to healthcare workers feeling heard by their employer, having their feedback actioned and having direct lines of communication with their employer.

Healthcare organizations that offer competitive pay and benefits, as well as a secure job and opportunities for growth, are more likely to retain their most valuable workers. 

Healthcare organizations with poor compensation packages, low employee engagement levels and a lack of transparency in communication, are much more likely to experience high levels of turnover. However, as Gartner states, it’s critical to remember that:

Monetary compensation is important for surviving, but deeper relationships, a strong sense of community and purpose-driven work are essential to thriving.

2. Work Quality

Work quality in healthcare plays a role in retaining employees, and involves the level of responsibility, the amount of work-life balance, and the level of stress in the workplace. 

Work quality also relates to the technology provided to health professionals to help them succeed in their roles, and with 52% of frontline workers claiming they would leave their job over tech tools, it’s clear to see the impact that the right workplace technology has on work quality and employee retention.

In addition, healthcare professionals who feel highly stressed (49% of unengaged healthcare employees according to Blink’s research) are more likely to leave their jobs. In contrast , organizations that offer a good work-life balance and minimize additional stress through the right digital tools are more likely to improve employee morale, job satisfaction and staff retention..

3. Organizational quality

Organizational quality also impacts employee retention, with key notions like the culture of the organization, the way employees are managed and rewarded. Organizational quality can also refer to levels of organizational innovation, such as improvement programs or digitization initiatives.

Blink’s latest research shows that health and care workers overwhelmingly feel unheard and undervalued in their organizations. Unsurprisingly, the same research showed 50% are considering leaving, or have recently left, their jobs. 

Simply put, organizations with a positive culture, good management practices, and fair reward systems are more likely to retain their employees. Conversely, organizations with poor organizational quality are more likely to experience high levels of turnover, as employees

Now, let’s look at 7 ways you can increase employee retention in healthcare

While higher wages and improved benefits must be part of the solution to low retention rates, we need to go further: all roles in health and social care must get the status and respect they deserve. But how can you, as business and HR leaders, provide that? 

1. Collect and Analyze Data

Up-to-date workforce data should be at the center of an effective retention strategy, helping you better target your employment, work and organizational quality improvements. By collecting and analyzing data and identifying trends in your deskless workforce, you can identify the starting point for your activities.

Understanding the profile of your workforce will help you to assess the risk points and ensure that retention issues affecting particular groups are addressed. For example, are retention issues organization-wide or specific to certain staff groups, demographics, departments or teams?

Getting to know the drivers of employee turnover, and who they impact in your specific organization, can help you create targeted initiatives to improve retention. For example, if your organization has a high turnover of newly qualified staff, you might focus on creating an effective onboarding program to help them settle in more quickly.

Making it happen

One way to improve employee retention is through the use of regular Employee Pulse Surveys. By conducting regular pulse surveys, you can ensure that you have a constant understanding of how your employees feel about their work. 

This will help you to address any potential retention issues before they become a major problem or spiral into quiet quitting. Additionally, pulse surveys can help to improve employee engagement and job satisfaction, which can lead to improved retention rates.

You can also use tools like Blink’s Frontline Intelligence feature to collect and analyze key employee engagement data and metrics, helping you to understand exactly where your healthcare workforce is feeling unengaged and unsatisfied. 

2. Offer Relevant Training and Development Opportunities

As touched on above, one key factor that can affect your employment quality is the availability of training and development opportunities. Healthcare organizations that offer relevant training and professional development are more likely to retain their most valuable employees, as these individuals feel like their skills are valued and their careers are progressing.

Making it happen

To increase employee retention, healthcare organizations should focus on providing training and development opportunities that are relevant to the needs of their staff. This might include formal training programs, such as classroom-based learning or online courses; it might also include more customized opportunities, such as one-on-one mentoring or job shadowing.

3. Lighten the load

An increasing number of health and care workers are struggling to balance the demands of their job with other aspects of their life, such as parenting or caring responsibilities. Unfortunately, when employees feel they are unable to leave work, it can often lead to stress and burnout; an early indicator of disengagement, and ultimately attrition. In some instances, burnout in healthcare staff has also been linked to medical errors and patient safety incidents.

To improve retention in healthcare, organizations must commit to creating a working environment where employees feel supported by their colleagues and managers, and are not overburdened with inflexible workloads.

Making it happen

To lighten the load for healthcare workers, organizations can take a number of steps. These may include:

  1. Providing more resources to support team members and managers in a mobile and easy-to-access Hub for on-the-go support.
  2. Implementing intuitive scheduling solutions and shift-swapping tools that can be used for real-time coordination and employee flexibility.
  3. Encouraging work-life balance through a culture of peer support, so that colleagues can easily tap into the knowledge and experience of their peers.
Masood Ahemd quotes on improrving employee retention in healthcare

4. Consistent Communication

Another factor that often impacts your employment quality is the consistency of your communication. Consistent two-way communication is essential for lasting relationships, and when it comes to employee retention, it can be one of your most powerful tools.

In spite of this, Blink’s research found that almost one-fifth of frontline workers state they don’t receive relevant communications from their organization.

Organizations can create a sense of community and trust among their staff to minimize attrition by ensuring that all employees:

  • Receive updates relevant to them
  • Are part of the right team chats
  • Can easily share their ideas and concerns

You can also use regular communication to obtain direct insight to how specific healthcare workers or teams are feeling about their work. This can help you to identify retention issues and create targeted interventions as needed.

Making it happen

Effective communication for healthcare organizations needs to be tailored to the specific needs of different staff groups. This might include regular mobile updates for frontline staff, team meetings for clinical teams, and regular newsletters or Feed updates for all employees.

The real key to consistent communication in healthcare is a mobile-first employee app that provides real-time access to information and communication tools such as Secure Chats.

Here’s what Blink’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) customer, LifeLine Ambulance, thinks:

screenshot of linkedin conversation with LifeLine ambulance promoting open communication
Original post

5. Focus On Employee Engagement

Employee engagement can be a powerful tool for improving retention, as it has been linked to higher levels of satisfaction and commitment among workers. 

Healthcare organizations can create a work quality that is more attractive to top performers by getting to know the latest employee engagement trends, providing the right digital tools for key workers to engage intuitively, and regularly assessing the effectiveness of their  efforts.

Engaging employees ultimately retains them.

Additionally, research by HBR shows that higher employee engagement levels can lead to a number of improved outcomes, not just retention. These include:

  • Hospital costs (Any legal action taken by a patient against a hospital for negligent complications) 
  • Treatment effectiveness and patient outcomes (Measured by the rate patients are readmitted) 
  • The level of hospital acquired infections and conditions (Surgical complications, etc.)

Making it happen

To increase employee engagement, healthcare organizations should focus on creating a culture that values the opinions and input of employees. This might include activities like surveys or direct feedback, regular communications from leadership, and targeted recognition programs.

One transformative way to improve employee engagement in your healthcare organization is to pave the way with Blink, the powerful mobile employee engagement app that frontline workers love. With a suite of features perfect for healthcare, Blink will help you create a culture of engagement and retention in your organization.

Screenshot of blink with HIPAA compliant accreditation

6. Real Recognition 

Recognition is fundamental to improving your employee retention. NHS Employers states:

Meaningful recognition can help to motivate and retain our NHS people. Setting in place a holistic reward package, which is relevant to staff needs, can be key to ensuring your organization, and the wider NHS, retains its staff.

But recognition is more than a pat on the back. Driving real recognition for employees needs to be an ongoing, holistic process that inspires your healthcare workforce to feel valued, motivated, and connected to the company. 

Making it happen

While some companies may view the idea of regular rewards or incentives as impractical, Blink is a mobile employee recognition solution that makes it easy to provide targeted and consistent recognition to specific individuals or teams.

With features like real-time feedback, team and group chatting, and, of course, Employee Recognition, your healthcare organization can unlock the power of recognition as a retention tool. And with its wider suite of handy features, Blink is the perfect way to engage employees in your healthcare organization and help you retain talent.

7. Listen and Action Feedback

Blink’s recent survey revealed that over a third (35%) of frontline healthcare workers feel that their feedback will not be acted on by their organization. Unsurprisingly, half of frontline healthcare staff have changed or considered changing their job.

“By taking the time to listen and communicate, we can create a better and more supportive environment within healthcare,” says Sean Nolan, Chief at Blink.

The survey goes on to state that through more effective communication, leaders feel more connected to their frontline, and frontline employees feel valued and listened to. This results in higher retention, increased productivity and better two-way conversations.

Making healthcare workers feel heard needs to be a priority for any healthcare organization. By listening to their feedback and acting on it, you will be able to create a more supportive workplace culture that retains top talent – leading to  reduced costs associated with employee turnover.

Making it happen

To effectively ensure your team is heard and their feedback is acted on, you need the right tech to manage it all smoothly. With the Blink employee app, you can listen to your employees and act on their feedback in real time – meaning they won’t feel ignored or undervalued.

By using the powerful features of Blink, you can help create a culture where frontline workers feel heard and respected, while focusing on:

  • Encouraging two-way feedback through regular surveys and communications from leadership.
  • Ensuring feedback is acted on and implemented into business processes, updating employees on the progress of their feedback so they know they’re being heard.
  • Integrating your mobile app with workplace technologies like HR systems, payroll platforms, and more, to streamline the employee experience and implement feedback effectively across your organization.

Your Healthcare Employee Retention Checklist

Collect and analyze data – Regular Employee Pulse Surveys, Frontline Intelligence data

Offer relevant training and development opportunities – Formal training programs, customized development pathways

Lighten the loadEasy-to-access Hub for on-the-go support, intuitive scheduling and shift-swapping solutions

Consistent communication – Team and 1:1 Secure Chats, regular and relevant mobile updates

Focus on employee engagement – A powerful Employee Engagement App

Real recognition – Rewards programs, Employee Recognition, Feed shoutouts

Listen and action feedback – Regularly collect and act on feedback, update employees on actions taken

Final Thoughts

Blink is the industry-leading frontline engagement app that connects management and frontline teams to build stronger organizations. With an average adoption of 85%, it’s never been this easy to unify the frontline. At Blink, we believe in empowering frontline organizations by helping you enable, engage and understand your workforce.

Our app provides a host of features that support employee retention in healthcare, such as employee surveys, polls, secure team and group chats and channels, employee recognition, and healthcare-friendly HR tools.

By using the app effectively, you will be able to create a culture where employees are engaged and respected – ultimately reducing employee turnover costs and driving employee retention up. We are experts in frontline engagement and retention, and would love to help you achieve your goals!