7 Ingenious Methods of Employee Retention in the Healthcare Sector

Written by: Lisa A. Burke
Published on: Jul 27, 2020

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Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, facilities across the U.S. will need to hire 2.3 million healthcare workers by 2025 to meet the needs of a growing patient population. However, due to a limited and lessening number new, qualified candidates, and increased competition between hiring facilities thousands of jobs will remain unfilled. In this environment, facilities of every size would do well to build a strong retention strategy that fosters employee engagement and loyalty.

Pay Attention to Retention!

While compensation and benefits are important factors with regard to employee retention, also important are alignment with company culture, growth opportunities and supportive management. By paying attention to retention and fostering an employee-centric work culture, healthcare facilities can realize a dual benefit of reduced recruitment costs and more productive and engaged staff.

An effective retention and engagement program should incorporate the following strategies:

1. Pre-employment skills-based and personality testing

Any good retention program must start with first hiring individuals you see as a long-term fit for your facility or organization. Due to both real and opportunity costs associated with recruitment and training due to turnover, it’s a good idea to administer pre-employment testing to filter those candidates that are a good match in terms of skill set, behaviors, work style, and work values as this will foster retention. Artificial intelligence (AI) software provides a time-efficient method of determining fit across each of these parameters by analyzing candidate responses and forming a  predictive analysis of future performance.

2. Create an inclusive on-boarding program

Most employers provide a three-month probationary period for new employees since it is well known that most resignations occur within the first 60-90 days of unemployment. In the majority of cases these resignations are due to cultural misalignment rather than the employee’s inability to perform the technical aspects of the role. The primary purpose of an inclusive onboarding program is to assist the new employee in assimilating into the culture and build connections with other staff, both within their department and throughout the facility. One strategy for fostering assimilation is to have a staff member, preferably within the new hire’s demographic, assume the role of “buddy” and introduce the new hire to everything, from policy and procedures and obtaining needed supplies to where the best take-out places are in the area. The overriding mission of the onboarding program is to create a positive impression of the organization and clarify for the new employee that s/he has made the best choice for their career.

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3. Promote work-life balance and employee well-being

In recent times, “work-life balance” has become a tagline highlighting the value an employer places on mental and emotional health. The majority of employees want to work for a facility that recognizes and values the importance of family, friends and extracurricular activities to both their physical and mental well-being. Studies have shown that employers offering health and wellness programs, along with mental health days experience a much lower rate of employee turnover than those firms that do not offer such incentives. This type of incentive is especially valuable in clinical settings where the emotional toll can be significant, especially in light of the recent pandemic.

Initiatives that foster work-life balance include flexible scheduling (where department staffing levels allow), as well as job-sharing to accommodate employees with young children, caretaking responsibilities, or older employees who wish to reduce hours as they near retirement.

4. Provide career development opportunities

The majority of employees indicate that the opportunity for career and professional development is on par with salary and benefits in terms of their motivation to remain with the facility. Several studies have indicated that a large number of employees would resign from their job if another facility offered them greater potential for growth, along with more diverse and challenging job duties. In many cases, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can help your firm identify gaps in knowledge or skills and create training opportunities for underrepresented staff within the organization. For example, a program Kraft Foods initiated nine years ago called Jump Start, was in response to the high turnover rate of African Americans as compared with the firm’s general population. With participation by ERG members, the company developed and executed a plan to address this issue and help employees successfully overcome barriers that were preventing them from successfully achieving their career goals with Kraft Foods.

5. Peer coaching

Here’s another area where ERGs may prove very useful. Peer coaching facilitated by ERG members helps employees stay connected to the facility and fosters inclusion. The Kraft program Jump Start, noted above, utilizes ERGs to address three areas in leadership development for underrepresented employees: 1) career development over a three-year period; 2) strategies to successfully transition from employee to manager; 3) coaching with regard to overseeing diverse work groups.

6. Implement recognition and reward programs

Most employees at all levels want to be recognized and rewarded for their efforts. Recognition and reward programs serve to boost employee morale which directly leads to enhanced productivity and increased revenue. Research conducted by the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI) has shown that recognition and reward programs can boost employee productivity by as much as 44 percent. However, not all rewards are viewed equally by all employees so the most effective rewards program allows the employee to select the reward that is most attractive to them.

7. Check employee satisfaction

It’s best to monitor employee satisfaction on a continuing basis.  One way to do this is with an employee satisfaction survey which can be completed anonymously to foster honesty. The results will highlight those areas in need of improvement – many of which may be negatively impacting current retention.


Implementing effective retention and engagement strategies results not only in greater levels of  employee satisfaction but increased profit potential due to the lower costs of recruiting and training. While your organization need not implement every suggestion above, it is important to foster a work culture that values employees since it is they who are the true “ambassadors” of your company brand to all stakeholders, be they future employees, vendors/suppliers or customers.


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