Image of healthcare staff.

Building a Resilient Healthcare Team: Retention Strategies

The healthcare industry labor market is hyper-competitive, and organizations are at risk of losing their edge because of employee turnover. Labor shortages, employee burnout, and early retirement are a few of the contributing factors to a decline in healthcare staff retention. Now more than ever, healthcare organizations need reliable strategies to retain their hardworking employees.

The strategies in this guide are a great starting point you can use to revamp or refine your retention efforts:

This image shows the five retention strategies that a healthcare organization can use to retain talent.

Hire well

Hospitals and other facilities need high-performing employees to keep their departments functioning at a high level. Unfortunately, the inefficiency and low morale stemming from underperforming staff can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of an entire team. When an individual is underperforming, it may be that they’re not meeting the desired level of performance and productivity set for their position at the time of hire. This situation emphasizes the interconnectedness of recruitment and retention, highlighting that retention success often depends on thoughtful recruitment processes.

When looking for ways to improve employee retention, consider reviewing the following recruitment procedures for any gaps or misalignments:

  • Candidate sources. Analyze your main candidate sources, whether they include referrals, online applications, or assistance from a staffing agency. Note which sources have produced the most promising candidates and which ones have underperformed.
  • Application and interview processes. Consider the applicant-to-interviewee conversion rate and whether the interview accurately assessed and predicted a candidate’s performance.
  • Time to fill positions. Look at the average time it took to fill open positions. Note any unexplained delays or bottlenecks that halted progress. The longer it takes to fill a position, the more likely it is that competitors will swoop in and take quality candidates.
  • Quality of hires. Review new hire performance data and note any issues with turnover or underperformance. Compare your high and low-performing new hires’ candidate sources and interview processes to find any meaningful differences.
  • Job description alignment. Make sure HR and hiring managers are on the same page with each job description meaning they know what KPIs to analyze and which candidates make the most promising leads.

For additional help, consider hiring an HR consultant to assess your specific recruitment challenges and help you overcome them. Their expertise in talent sourcing and recruitment strategies can help refine your hiring processes and welcome more qualified candidates.

Onboard with purpose

Alongside reviewing your recruitment practices, consider how your current onboarding measures come into play. Note that across all industries, up to 20% of new hires resign within the first 45 days of their role, and in healthcare, this percentage has been on the rise.

To combat this, consider how you can use your onboarding processes to inform and inspire new recruits. At a minimum, your onboarding should teach new hires the necessary systems, policies, technology, and procedures they need to know to excel in their roles.

Additionally, you can incorporate a more personal touch by establishing mentorship opportunities and encouraging regular feedback from the start. This means scheduling check-ins and opportunities for staff to get to know the team and ask questions. Set a precedent by keeping communication open and celebrating early wins to foster motivation.

Ease administrative burdens

A 2021 report found that doctors spend an average of 15.6 hours weekly on paperwork and other administrative tasks. Because of this, many doctors and nurses leave the profession frustrated by tedious workloads. This common problem is often caused by disparate software systems that make providers spend excessive time locating or transferring files.

That’s why it’s important to stay ahead of these slowdowns with proactive solutions. For instance, interoperable EHR (electronic health record) integration software enables medical records to be accessed easily.

According to Arcadia, implementing this solution can have profound impacts on your organization’s workflow in the following areas:

  • Care continuity and collaboration. Integrated EHR systems open the door for doctors to seamlessly collaborate and problem-solve with easy file management.
  • Employee efficiency. Medical staff see more patients and get more done with technology that can provide what they need when they need it.
  • Patient engagement and retention. As an added bonus, efficient and equipped employees are able to spend more time face-to-face with patients instead of tracking down data.

Exploring solutions like EHR integration software can help your practice stay on top of new technologies and make the most of your medical staff’s time.

You can then use dashboards and other tracking methods to keep tabs on your improved metrics. For example, you might find that a new software change has not only improved staff performance but also substantially decreased patient wait times.

Offer a total rewards compensation plan

Compensation and benefits play a big part in encouraging employee retention. In order to sustainably meet your employees’ expectations, consider taking a total rewards approach to compensation. This approach distinguishes between indirect and direct compensation to offer more well-rounded support:

  • Direct compensation refers to the cash directly paid to employees for the work they perform. However, this covers more than base pay, including any bonuses, stock sharing, and other monetary benefits.
  • Indirect compensation covers all other compensation elements that do not fall within this category, including health insurance, PTO (paid time off), and retirement savings.  Other common forms of indirect compensation include flexible work arrangements, childcare assistance, employee wellness programs, four-day or compressed workweeks, student loan repayment programs, and sabbaticals to pursue work-related or non-work-related activities.

Survey your current workforce to determine how your organization can better support their goals with total rewards compensation. For example, Gen Z employees might prefer more upward mobility and development opportunities whereas  Gen X employees might be looking for assistance with elder care or college planning for their children.

Foster employee engagement

Engaged employees cultivate a more positive and motivated work environment. Not to mention, highly engaged business units experience 14% higher productivity. To tap into these benefits, consider how you can incorporate employee engagement strategies, such as:

    • Offering recognition. Implement a recognition system that aligns with your company values and encourage employees and managers to reward standout behavior. For instance, you might acknowledge hard-working employees with an Employee of the Month award.
    • Exploring philanthropy. Corporate philanthropy opportunities like matching gifts and volunteer grants enable your organization to support the causes your employees care about. This sets your organization apart and instills a greater sense of purpose in employees.
    • Investing in career development. Courses, workshops, and internal mobility can inspire employees to live up to their potential and develop useful skills. For example, a new healthcare analyst might be interested in courses related to value-based care or risk adjustment.

If you need additional inspiration, consider researching the engagement strategies of other successful organizations. For instance, Kaiser Permanente invests in outreach programs to give back outside of the office environment.

Higher retention rates are the outcome of several factors  working in sync—recruiting, hiring, onboarding, compensation, and engagement. If you’ve noticed that one of these processes seems off, dive deeper to identify and  resolve problems before they develop into retention issues. This way, you’ll foster a positive environment where employees feel rewarded and motivated to work.

Author: Julie Albiani
Julie Albiani (she/her) is a Talent Acquisition Manager at Arcadia. Julie is passionate about helping growing businesses scale while maintaining a strong, candidate-first approach with DEI-focused initiatives. She has experience working with SaaS companies as well as staffing agencies. Before recruiting, Julie worked in the travel industry for several years. She loves being part of a mission-driven organization that focuses on helping to improve quality and access to healthcare. In her free time, Julie loves going to spin classes, hunting for antiques, and trying new restaurants. She currently resides in the Boston area with her husband and cat.