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Importance of Employee Retention in Healthcare

Monday, August 08, 2016 | 12:00 AM

While the healthcare industry exists to improve the lives and health of everyone, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations have to keep a close eye on their bottom line. After all, without revenue, these organizations cannot serve anyone. Healthcare providers must have the money to pay their workers and the ability to limit staff turnover. This means human resource management in healthcare is vital. When nurses, administrators and other employees change jobs, healthcare organizations lose money.

There are many steps human resource managers can take to retain staff members, but in order to do so effectively, it is important to understand why turnover hurts hospitals.

The Costs of Turnover

Healthcare administrators work to keep private practices, hospital systems, clinics and other facilities running smoothly. One of their major responsibilities is paying the doctors, nurses, office staff, janitors, and every other person working in the facility. It may seem easy to assess the cost of any given employee, but factoring each person’s annual salary is far from an accurate method of determining the cost of replacing a worker.

Why? Human resource managers and administrators have to take into account the costs associated with hiring, onboarding and training new employees. When they leave, there are additional costs associated with transferring their information, updating the system and remitting outstanding earnings. There is also knowledge loss and downtime. In short, turnover is costly. The average turnover cost for a bedside Registered Nurse (RN) in 2014 was between $44,380 and $63,400. With an annual turnover rate of 16.5 percent in the healthcare industry, the average hospital can expect to lose $732,000 each year, which is money better spent on improved equipment, technologies, salaries and other essentials.

Patient and Public Perception

Patients who visit medical facilities more frequently than once a year are typically loyal to their doctors and healthcare providers. These patients know the nursing staff, they have their favorite office administrators and they even consider some of the staff to be their friends. When a patient comes into the hospital or clinic for a routine procedure and his or her favorite nurse is gone, it can create a negative experience.

If additional staff also leave, and the patient’s perception of care drops, why would he or she remain a regular client? After all, he or she can get the same care at another facility with more consistent staff. Alternatively, physicians themselves can leave a facility, and their patients may simply follow them to their new clinics or hospitals.

Losing one patient may not sound like a huge loss, but losing several patients can hurt a hospital’s bottom line, and while patient care is the number one priority, hospitals without money cannot afford to help patients. As such, employee retention in healthcare is a serious concern for hospitals and clinics; it is also a concern for patients.

Keeping Employees Happy

Human resource management in healthcare is the front line in ensuring staff, from cafeteria workers to surgeons, stick around. There are many things managers can do to improve morale. Employees want the opportunity to grow professionally and advance their careers. To this end, human resources can implement systems of advancement that provide goals employees can work toward.

Culture is also important. Is the hospital administration transparent? Does it care about nurses as much as it does patients? Is it friendly? These are important issues to healthcare workers, as is sufficient staffing. If employees feel overworked, they can feel devalued and underappreciated. Healthcare organizations need to ensure they have enough employees so staff can actually complete their assigned tasks. Of course, this returns to the issue of cash flow; if a hospital has a high turnover rate, it can spend as much on turnover as it would additional employees.

Human resource management in healthcare may not be as visible to patients as doctors and nurses are, but it is a vital component of a hospital’s — and a patient’s — health.

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