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4 Ways to Boost Healthcare Employee Retention

In: Industry Insights

Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2023 @ 3:55pm

4 Ways to Boost Healthcare Employee Retention

Implement These Strategies to Help Inspire Greater Staff Loyalty

Attracting and hiring top talent is only one piece of the puzzle when addressing some of the most common staffing issues faced in the healthcare industry today. Finding ways to make this talent want to stay with your organization versus transferring to a different employer – or leaving the industry altogether – is another.

What can you do to help improve retention of your healthcare employees? The good news is that your organization probably has measures that could make a difference to your team members’ happiness. Some of those options include conducting stay interviews, implementing anti-burnout initiatives, encouraging employee engagement, and keeping your workplace communications in a positive tone.

Conduct Stay Interviews

Some companies interview employees twice. The first is when deciding whether to hire them, which may actually be a multi-interview process. The second interview occurs once they’ve decided to leave, in an attempt to determine the factors that have contributed to them seeking work elsewhere. A third option, and one that may help improve retention, is a stay interview.1

A stay interview involves meeting with current employees to discuss what factors make your workplace one where they want to remain, as well as talking about issues that could make them want to leave. This provides the opportunity to identify the challenges your staff members are facing, then implement changes to address these challenges in a way that increases their desire to remain working for your healthcare organization.

The Academy to Innovate HR shares several questions that can be used during a stay interview, some of which include:

  • What do you look forward to most when coming to work each day? Conversely, what do you dread?
  • What would you cut from your job if you could?
  • What talents would you like to use more often?
  • Would you recommend us to friends who are looking for a healthcare job? Why or why not?
  • Do you feel that we value you and recognize your efforts?
  • Do you feel like you have adequate resources to perform your job functions?

With answers to questions such as these, your organization can create a plan to address some of the biggest pain points for employees, potentially making more of them want to stay. It is recommended that you hold this type of interview with your employees once per year, at a minimum.2

Implement Anti-Burnout Initiatives

On May 23, 2022, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory stressing the “urgent need” to address healthcare worker burnout. It explained that, although burnout has been a growing issue in the healthcare field, the pandemic aggravated this concern even more. Additionally, the consequences of burnout don’t just affect healthcare workers, according to the Surgeon General, but also the entire public health infrastructure.

In the advisory, several recommendations are provided to help combat healthcare burnout. One is to create a culture in which health workers feel empowered as part of the solution. This could be accomplished by involving them when seeking ways to improve the organization, its processes, and its culture. Other recommendations are to:3

  • Make mental health care more accessible, along with increasing accessibility to other care-based services, such as those related to substance use.
  • Make worker health, safety, and well-being a priority, such as by addressing employees’ barriers to working (childcare, older adult care, etc.), ensuring that schedules are adequately staffed, and seeking to reduce workplace harassment and violence.
  • Develop workplace models that offer social support and create a feeling of community.

Another strategy offered by the American College of Healthcare Executives is to “lead with care.”4 This involves being both consultive and supportive when managing staff versus having an authoritative leadership approach.

Encourage Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is considered an essential component of organizational success, in part because it is linked with employee retention.5 Employees who are engaged are actively involved in their work, sometimes even to the point of being enthusiastic about their jobs and job functions. This is much different from an employee who is disengaged or shows up intending to do the minimum, earn their paycheck, and go home.

Gallup polls have found that when employees are engaged, absenteeism rates drop 81% and turnover decreases somewhere between 18% and 43%, depending on the organization’s typical turnover rates.6 But what can you do to help your healthcare employees become more engaged?

According to results from a 2021 survey, the three most effective ways to drive engagement are:7

  • Help employees make the connection between their job and things that are important to them. This could be accomplished by creating a mission statement that is aligned with employees’ values, or by helping them see that what they do is important to the organization achieving its greater purpose. Your company could also put some of its monies toward funding employee resource groups.
  • Find a way to reduce employee stress and increase their level of enjoyment while on the clock. Suggestions provided include giving employees the ability to try new tasks, increasing their autonomy, and helping them feel more confident in their job roles. One way to do the latter is by implementing a mentorship program.
  • Create a greater abundance of time for your staff. Certainly, you don’t have the power to put more time into the day. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t help employees find more time in the hours they do have. For instance, if an employee does a good job, you might give them an extra day off as a reward. Or you might work with a local company that is willing to give your employees a discount on services that could save them time, such as those related to meal prep or housework. It may even be helpful to discourage staff from thinking about work while off the clock, like by stopping email notifications after hours.

Keep Your Employee Communications Friendly

A 2021 study involving 237 healthcare employees in the state of North Carolina found that when workplace communications were frequently friendly, they had a positive effect on employee health. Yet, when communication was frequently “hostile or difficult,” it tended to harm their health and was detrimental to their feelings of burnout.8

Before issuing a memo, email, or even talking face-to-face with your staff, think about your tone. Would you consider your communication style friendly, hostile, or somewhere in between? Put another way, how would you feel if you were on the receiving end?

Ways to create positive communication between you and your staff include:9

  • Greet the recipient versus just supplying the necessary information (e.g., starting an email with “Hi Aleesha” instead of jumping right into the message you want to deliver).
  • Make it a point to issue compliments when they’ve done a good job. The key to this one is to offer the compliment in a meaningful way.
  • Keep communications encouraging. Strive to inspire the recipient of your communication.

Ultimate Medical Academy – Your Partner in Workforce Retention

At Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA), we work hard to make the right connections between our grads and the healthcare organizations who are looking to hire them. But we don’t stop there. We also want these relationships to last.

UMA provides healthcare education programs and solutions for healthcare staffing challenges such as retention. Our Career Services team stands ready to help connect you with trained graduates to meet your allied healthcare workforce needs.

Visit to learn more about the talent solutions offered by Ultimate Medical Academy or to request more information.

1 Bradbury MD, Martin M, Yokley-Krige E. Book Review: The Stay Interview: A Manager’s Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest. Review of Public Personnel Administration.

2 Monster. How to Use Stay Interviews to Improve Retention.

3 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. New Surgeon General Advisor Sounds Alarm on Health Worker Burnout and Resignation.

4 Capozzalo GL. 3 Strategies for Reducing Burnout in Your Staff. American College of Healthcare Executives.

5 Clack L. Employee Engagement: Keys to Organizational Success. The Palgrave Handbook of Workplace Well-Being.

6 Gallup. What Is Employee Engagement and How Do You Improve It?

7 Stein D, Hobson N, Jachimowicz JM, Whillans A. How Companies Can Improve Employee Engagement Right Now. Harvard Business Review.

8 Sesemann E, Lamson K, Schoemann AM, Das B. Healthcare Employees’ Social Networks, Burnout, and Health. Families, Systems, & Health.

9 Mirivel JC. The Six Keys to Positive Communication. University of California, Berkeley, Greater Good Science Center.

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