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Employee Retention Strategy at Healthcare

Hassan Mostafa Mohammed, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, ReyadaPro

Healthcare enterprise management must thoroughly investigate the causes of employee(s) turnover, work to resolve and prevent high employee turnover, and implement employee(s) retention strategies as the foundation of business continuity and economic loss avoidance.

Basically, employee turnover is not the responsibility of the HR department alone but also the responsibility of the organization's shareholders and senior management, who seek to achieve performance excellence. Employee turnover leads to a loss of profitability, productivity, knowledge, and financial stability. To overcome employee turnover, management needs to show concern and care for all employees, pay attention to their affairs to the level of attaining their highest performance, try to solve their internal and external problems, and facilitate or eliminate their work obstacles to get the best out of work activities and ensure work runs smoothly and effectively.

Healthcare Professional Enterprise management needs to be clear & transparent in announcing the advancement opportunities for employees, revise and asses thoroughly actions and decisions affecting the workforce commitment, and applying strategic leadership in a wise manner.

“Healthcare Professional Enterprise Management needs to support employees' development through the creation of a career path, giving great concern to employee training to support their growth”.

There is no doubt that human beings are the most valuable fixed asset for any organization. To maintain an organization's progress and stability, it must retain competent personnel who are leading the organization toward its goals and maintaining its reputation. Top management at any organization needs to create comfortable and motivated employees, create an encouraging environment, and define programmes and services to improve employee retention strategies and ensure employees' happiness.

Considering the progress updates and changes, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, in regulations, reimbursements, increased mergers and consolidations, and cost-containment initiatives that can severely affect organizational retention, employee retention becomes crucial in the healthcare industry, apart from the importance of employees’ satisfaction within the healthcare facility.

We need to understand the key components and the importance of measuring employee turnover, and learning how employee turnover affects patient care. We need to create a policy to retain quality employees. We need to seek out the real needs and expectations of the healthcare staff, especially physicians. Top management should consider adjusting their managerial perspectives when establishing new human resources policies or making decisions. The success of a healthcare organization depends on measuring employee turnover and the quality of care the organization delivers. Turnover of healthcare providers (physicians, nurses, etc.) is the primary cause of patient distrust and has a negative impact on hospital performance and progress.

When an employee leaves, duties may be shifted to the remaining personnel, adding an additional obligation and burden to them.

“Studies indicate the cost of turnover can average 150% of the employee's annual salary”.

Employee turnover affects the process of patient care. The majority of patients prefer to be cared for by the same staff of a healthcare team each time because relationships are built between the patients and their respective healthcare teams. To develop an effective strategy, we need to determine the reasons for employees' leaving by conducting detailed exit interviews. Organizations need to focus on important issues to maintain a competent workforce in the long term, such as communication, decision-making, compensation, benefits, and career development; recruitment; appreciation and understanding; and management.

We need to create strategies for improving employee retention in healthcare. We need to learn how industry leaders put healthcare workers first and keep their employees. Satisfied employees are contributing to the delivery of high-quality care, reducing medication errors and malpractice claims, and showing a good commitment to their patients and organization.

The reasons for the high turnover rate among healthcare workers include an ageing workforce, especially among nurses and physicians; a lack of educational opportunities for nurses, preventing them from entering the field; exhaustion; salary; career development; and work-life balance.

Healthcare employers can maintain employee satisfaction through strategies for improving employee retention such as:

(1) Improve recruiting and onboarding - by attracting candidates using a combination of a good salary, good benefits, and a good work environment.

Employers must give people reasons to stay. We need to note that a good salary is only one factor in keeping employees. Good benefits, training, continuing education, and professional development are all important factors that must be addressed and handled carefully to ensure employee retention and happiness. Employers need to announce their bonuses and rewards for the ideal employee who achieves the highest records.

“Employers should offer rewards, benefits, bonuses in a sound approach, to make and keep their employees’ happiness. Need to keep employees satisfactions all the times”.

(2) Training and development - employers need to give their employees room to be trained on administrative tasks and the latest technology related to their core function (such as phones, payroll and timesheet software, electronic health records, and other applications) that will breed the confidence to step comfortably into their new role.

The most critical issue in improving healthcare employee retention is for healthcare management to save adequate competent staffing and create appropriate scheduling. They directly affect the quality of care. especially at a time when patient loads are high, causing exhaustion and stress among nurses and leading to a turnover.

Healthcare providers who must schedule employees to effectively fulffulfillient needs employ a range of tactics, including:

o flexible schedules have the advantage of catering to the needs of nurses and other healthcare workers who must balance work, family, and other obligations.
o Self-scheduling allows healthcare professionals, such as nurses, to decide when they work and how much overtime they accept.
o using data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to estimate demand and identify anticipated demand flows

Healthcare providers who need to schedule staff to adequately meet patient needs use a variety of strategies, such as:

o Flexible schedules have the advantage of meeting the needs of nurses and other health professionals who are balancing work and family or other demands.
o Self-scheduling gives nurses and other healthcare workers control over when they work and how much overtime they take on.
o Predicting demands using data analytics via artificial intelligence and machine learning to help identify likely flows in demand

(3) Prevent employee burnout - that results in a lack of motivation, poor job performance, and increased negativity. Burnout can lead to poor care quality, and overwork and exhaustion can lead to medical mistakes.

“According to the American Psychological Association, burnout is a physical, emotional, and mental condition caused by overwork and stress”.

Burnout Strategies: We can prevent that by applying the following approach:

Adequate staffing and scheduling: Hiring temporary and permanent staff and using appropriate scheduling can help alleviate overwork.

Prepare employees for burnout risk: inform employees about the signs and symptoms of burnout and provide them with tools to help prevent it while they are students and juniors so that they are ready to face this critical issue and ensure their adaptability while performing their activities.

“A 2021 study by the Mayo Clinic found that one in five healthcare workers said they intended to reduce work hours or quit the profession in two years, due to burnout, fear of infection, anxiety, or a high workload”.

Concentrating on patient care without neglecting the necessary documentation [paperwork and/or software records]; reducing administrative tasks by hiring an assistant to keep the required records allows clinicians and physicians to focus on caring for patients.Using the most recent technology means using the most recent applicable technology to ensure the best possible care for the patient in the shortest amount of time.

Treat burnout: Employers should ensure that employees receive the care and time they require to avoid the consequences of burning out, leaving work, and reducing the patient's care.

Hire the proper and sufficient staff as per the workload; inadequate staffing increases employee stress levels and accelerates burnout. A supportive organizational culture can help to reduce the stress and burnout that can cost your company quality employees by:

o Ask for and acknowledge employee input into quality care policies and procedures.
o Be responsive to employee issues and complaints.
o Be as flexible as possible with scheduling to accommodate individual needs, preferences, and emergencies.
o Establish or strengthen your organization’s employee support network.

(4) Employee engagement - is achieved by involving them in decision-making, showing care for their opinions, and giving them the room to take the right decision freely and smoothly as per the required task and patient case. This can be applied via:

Making coaching and mentoring programs: employers should invest in their staff’s career goals, helping some employees attain their responsibilities in the new task area and encourage continuing education and certification via the presentation of continuing professional development (CPD), often referred to as continuing medical education (CME) credits or continuing education units (CEUs), as CPD has a positive impact on patient outcomes.

“According to the Journal of American Medicine, CPD programs in prescription drugs were associated with reduced healthcare costs for patients”.

Endorse values such as integrity, empowerment, perseverance, equality, discipline, and accountability in the organization. Support and develop employees via training and development plans; invest in employees. Celebrate successes and highlight individual achievements via a visual board and announcements. Present compensation and reward them at different intervals. Celebrate with them on their birthday and marriage day and give them a present. Show them care and support, even during family celebration events and in the case of family problems. Participate with employees and encourage them to make their own decisions about how the case should be handled. Encourage employees' creativity and use of the latest technology and data analytics in solving problems and getting the proper and right solutions in time without fear or blame for making any mistakes. Give employees thank-you cards for going to dinner and/or conferences. Take care with employee suggestions and ideas; show them you care with their input. Enhance, push, and create opportunities for employees to become "leaders" at their jobs.

Save the necessary resources and more for them to perform their work freely and smoothly in order to achieve the best results. Encourage them to send their opinions and suggestions via clear, open, and simple channels. Make monthly meetings for them and celebrate with the best achiever to motivate others to be on track and support their retention in the organization. Ensure effective balancing between work and life; apply the "work-life balance" model.
Employee-led initiatives and autonomy: via encouraging employees to take their decisions in relevant cases without fear, which supports them and increases their confidence in their work process (such as free scheduling, using relevant and proper technology as required, etc.); In short, give employees the freedom to learn about their own needs and jobs.

“A report in the Journal of Healthcare Leadership showed that nurses who had autonomy and agency in their practice were more likely to stay in the profession, despite the pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic”.

(5) Identify and address work social barriers - such as transportation between the healthcare provider facility and the employee's home; working hours and staying late at night prevent the employee from leaving for his home, which is located in a rare area at late hours. Employers must support their employees by showing concern for their personal and family matters as needed.

Improving employee retention in healthcare is crucial and requires great attention and care from healthcare leaders. A healthcare provider should have a business plan as part of their retention strategy. They should present in a clear and transparent way the proposal, progress measures, and management influences on the plan. When developing their business plan, they should think about and calculate the return on investment. They should have a value proposition for the organization's strengths and differentiate it from its competitors. They should measure progress towards meeting retention goals at regular intervals to keep their organization on track. They should hire competent personnel, ensuring the personnel has the required knowledge, experiences, skills, good attitude, and aptitude or innate qualities.

Employers should reward employees for their successes and take corrective action as required. Healthcare leaders should calculate and consider retention rate targets that achieve a competitive edge in the relevant market.

“Gering and Conner (2002), retaining a productive workforce is important for any organization because if the organization cannot retain its employees, it will not be able to exploit its human asset progress inside the organization”.

Healthcare employers need to support their employees and ensure their contribution to the progress and benefits of the organization. They need to increase the contribution and engagement of their employees by motivating, encouraging, and acknowledging their efforts in the right way to ensure their retention. Create proper policies. Explain the organization's strategies and methodologies to keep personnel and avoid their leaving.

Maintaining competent personnel is much less expensive than hiring new ones. They should create and foster the proper environment, have plans and programmes for employee retention via compensation plan, reward, inform, and call them to be a part of the organization, and above all, be clear and transparent with them, willing and doing their best to ensure their comfort and happiness while doing their work, and giving their best and highest care for patients to achieve their satisfaction that elevated the organization's benefits, morale, and productivity.

“According to Gering and Conner (2002), retaining good workers is critical to any organization. If an organisation is not able to retain its employees, it will not be able to capitalize on the human assets developed within the organization”.

Healthcare employers should support the individual needs and circumstances of their employees. The lack of support, unsupportive relationships within employees’ working groups, and a health-care system that "puts business principles before care" are listed as factors resulting in job dissatisfaction and employee turnover.

SUMMARY:

Get creative. Be more creative about attracting and keeping quality employees. As workforce competition continues to heat up, unique benefit offerings such as these may be necessary to attract and retain qualified hospital and home healthcare employees. Prioritizing employees’ happiness: employees tend to stay with an employer who cares about their happiness and well-being. Implementing wellness initiatives and stress management strategies encourages employees to disconnect from work and care for their families and personnel issues after work. Apply the employee’s freedom criteria to design his own schedule, trusting him or her to get the work done. Be social; offer emotional support and resources to avoid employee burnout.

--Issue 01--

Author Bio

Hassan Mostafa Mohammed

Dr. Hassan Mostafa Mohamed, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at ReyadaPro is an entrepreneurial and growth-driven executive with more than 25 years of experience in pharmaceutical industries, including, Technical, sales & marketing, Production, Supply chain, Engineering/utilities, Quality, and regulatory issues. Mr Hassan is an expert in driving pharmaceutical facilities to accomplish corporate goals, building and leading technical & quality aspects with market consideration for rapid growth, and efficient operational excellence.

Harvard Medical School - Leadership in Medicine Southeast Asia47th IHF World Hospital CongressHealthcare CNO SummitHealthcare CMO Summit