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The Complete Guide to Hiring and Retaining Medical Staff

Medical students excited to enter the workforce

Why is there a staffing shortage?

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, few anticipated that we’d still be struggling in 2022. When the lockdown did not stop the virus, fewer people were willing to work in higher-risk jobs. This drove high levels of healthcare employee turnover.

There’s likely no riskier industry when it comes to contagious diseases than healthcare. As COVID patients rushed into hospitals to the point of overflow, the danger became abundantly clear. The front-line employees faced the risk of takingthe virus home. 

As such, it’s no surprise that a recent labor poll by the United States Chamber of Commerce found that approximately 29% of employees do not wish to return to work until the risk of contracting COVID is eliminated. This is a general report, but we can imagine that this number would be higher for frontline healthcare workers.

There are also medical workers who were required to leave the organization for refusing to adhere to vaccination mandates. With both ends of the spectrum having left the healthcare industry, the remaining workers have been pushed harder than ever.

The healthcare industry has always been a high-stress working environment, and the individuals who have chosen to stick around are at high risk of burnout with no sign of reprieve. 

How does healthcare employee turnover affect your practice?

Healthcare employee turnover is a big financial and administrative burden that can massively impact healthcare practices. Replacing medical workers comes with tedious interviews, high onboarding costs, and essential training obligations.

The interview process can take hours for each applicant if they’re considered over the course of multiple meetings. Before even exchanging words with each individual, most healthcare practices run intensive background checks. 

If you need more information about running background checks for your medical practice, check out our blog post here

Once a hiring manager confirms each applicant’s identity, work history, and any other areas of concern, the interviews begin. It’s not uncommon for doctors, nurses, administrators, and other high-skill applicants to require 3-4 interviews. 

Offboarding and onboarding costs can easily drain the available budget for healthcare practices. In their 2020 Retention Report, Work Institute estimates the cost of each instance of healthcare employee turnover to conservatively cost about 30% of the position’s annual salary. 

This is further increased for facilities that offer sign-on bonuses to attract new applicants. The Chamber of Commerce labor poll found that sign-on bonuses of $1,000 are the best way to entice new employees. 

Training obligations are especially crucial in the healthcare industry. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) outlines steep penalties for noncompliance. HIPAA requires that healthcare staff receive training on a regular basis, and most facilities train annually.

Entry-level medical staff will need more intensive training than experienced employees. Additionally, their work should be monitored closely until they’re proficient.

The top causes of healthcare employee turnover

Every single day employees are working, they’re developing opinions about their workplace. In the high-stress environments of healthcare jobs, emotions can run hot. When a single mistake can cause patient death and/or financial ruin, it’s understandable why people snap. Unfortunately, you cannot take back words or actions.

These are some of the top negative forces that drive healthcare employee turnover:

Burnout caused by stress is the most significant reason for employees to seek new jobs. Prolonged stress can cause significant physical and emotional damage. Exhaustingly long shifts and high stakes can quickly pile up, and insufficient time to rest ensures it goes unmitigated. 

Lack of respect toward an employee can make them feel unwanted, unwelcome, and unfulfilled. If they feel they’re stuck in a hostile working environment that makes them miserable, they’ll almost certainly try to change the situation.

Inconsistent hours and responsibilities make it difficult to fall into a comfortable routine. Furthermore, if they are consistently called in on their time off, they will struggle to relax when off the clock. 

Denied time off, while occasionally necessary, can make your staff feel less autonomous. Furthermore, when granted PTO is later rescinded, they gain major reason to distrust their employer. 

Insufficient pay is always a concern as good staff gains experience. If wages stagnate with no hope of growth, one job offer at a higher rate can make quitting an easy decision for your top employees. 

How you can motivate your staff to stay longer

After putting in the time and money required to prepare your staff to perform their job as well as possible, you definitely don’t want to start over with somebody new. Hiring medical workers is difficult enough, so aim to reduce healthcare employee turnover instead. By considering the reasons people quit, you can find ways to make them want to stay. Some examples include:

Do not hire the bare minimum number of employees. While you may technically be able to keep the ship upright with just a few hard workers, not every day will be smooth sailing. If somebody quits or falls ill, the rest of your staff shouldn’t burn out trying to make up for their absence. 

Avoid asking too many personal questions, especially in response to time-off requests. If they have details they’re eager to share, they will tell you naturally.

Notice and praise their hard work. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool that can improve an employee’s perception of their job. When an employee makes mistakes, try to gently offer constructive criticism.

Offer time-based monetary incentives. By providing annual bonuses and raises, you can improve the overall quality of life for your employees. This is especially integral for extremely stressful positions, as people can handle more stress at work if they have less at home. 

For more information about avoiding healthcare employee turnover, click here.

How to become the best hiring option

If you’ve experienced healthcare employee turnover and need to hire additional medical staff, you’re likely, not alone. Consider every other healthcare facility hiring staff as competitors vying for the top talent in the pool of applicants. How can you make sure people put you at the top of their list?

There are many factors that impact which job offer an applicant will take, with salary and reputation considered above all. Salary is simple; if you offer more money, you’re more likely to get a skilled employee. Reputation takes some work, however.

Building a positive reputation can take years, and the ramifications of a negative incident can linger for years. This is especially true for healthcare facilities in a way that few industries can match. This is evident in cases of major medical malpractice, where one incident can make the entire organization infamous. 

There’s no quick way to build a reputation, you must gradually gain trust by continually offering incredible care, connecting with patients, and investing in your local community. Word-of-mouth advertising is powerful and free, but your patients must feel that you have their best interests at heart before they endorse you. 

In addition to local reputation, websites like Glassdoor are essential for attracting new employees. With a positive review score, you extend the pool of talent far beyond the confines of your locality. As with local reputation, this takes time to develop.

Asking employees to leave Glassdoor reviews

Before moving forward with a job offer, most applicants will research you on Glassdoor. Your rating here will impact the likelihood of them – or anybody else – accepting the offer. To improve your score, consider these tips:

Request that applicants review the interview process. This will provide you with knowledge of what people like and dislike when applying for a position with your organization. To ensure the best reviews possible, you should respond quickly, thank them for their interest, and politely turn them down if they’re not the right fit.

Request upon hiring that new staff members submit reviews within their first few months. Fresh eyes can offer the insight necessary to point out issues that nobody has mentioned. 

Request reviews practice-wide annually. An individual may only submit one Glassdoor review every 5 years. Even if some employees are not yet eligible to submit a new review, this will help staff feel that their review is anonymous. 

Post your score in a location your staff can see. This subtly reminds your employees that it’s an important score to you. Additionally, if the score is high, it will make them feel more proud to be working for you. Even with a pay increase, your staff would think twice before leaving your 4-star practice for one with 2 stars.

For more information about the importance of positive employer reviews, click here.

Are there alternatives to hiring new staff?

Healthcare technology is constantly evolving to improve the quality of care for patients and the quality of life for medical staff. Burnout caused by stress and overworking drives talented employees away, but reducing those factors helps make them want to stay.

ChartRequest was designed to help medical staff navigate the otherwise complicated realm of HIPAA-compliant release of protected health information. With a Self-Service subscription, your employees can release medical records safely and in a fraction of the time.

We estimate that the average release of information, including fielding incoming calls for status updates, takes upwards of two hours. With the current HIPAA deadline of 30 days, this job can easily become overwhelming even for experienced staff. 

ChartRequest offers real-time status updates, and our provider chat allows requestors to ask questions quickly and conveniently. This significantly reduces the number of calls made regarding medical records requests, freeing your staff to perform more valuable tasks.

If you would like to completely automate your release of information, our Full-Service subscription allows you to completely outsource incoming requests to our team of HIPAA experts. This can reduce your average turnaround time to just a few days without any input necessary.

Learn about how our 5 tips for reducing burnout in healthcare can improve staff retention and ensure a great patient experience.
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