7 Strategies to Improve Employee Retention in Healthcare

7 Strategies to Improve Employee Retention in Healthcare

Uncover the secrets to fostering a nurturing work environment in healthcare, boosting job satisfaction, and effectively minimizing staff turnover for a thriving healthcare team.

7 Strategies to Improve Employee Retention in Healthcare

As we move into a post-pandemic world and continue to face the Great Resignation, many industries are still struggling to retain and attract workers — and the healthcare industry is no exception. In fact, resignations among healthcare workers have risen from 400,000 per month in 2020 to a stunning almost 600,000 per month in 2023.

So how can healthcare organizations work to retain, and even engage, the vital workers who care for their patients? These healthcare employee retention strategies will help you build a plan that works for your company culture.

Why Retention and Engagement are Critical in Healthcare

But first, why is having low turnover and high engagement critical for healthcare organizations? One major reason goes right to the bottom line — employee turnover is expensive. Losing a single physician can cost an organization up to $200,000 or more, and just one nurse leaving can cost more than $58,000 per year.

If your turnover rate is high, your organization is losing money. But you’re also losing much more than that — high turnover is bad for employee morale as well, and you’re losing valuable relationships between healthcare providers and patients (plus lots of institutional knowledge). And too much turnover indicates that something is off with your company culture as well.

Burnout among healthcare providers is also rampant, and employee engagement is low.

70% of nurses say they’re currently burnt out, and 63% of doctors show at least one manifestation of burnout. So addressing these causes of low engagement and high burnout will help your employee morale as well as your retention rate.

7 Strategies to Improve Employee Retention in Healthcare

It’s clear that employee retention is a big challenge for many organizations — but what strategies can actually make a difference in your retention rate? We’ve got seven data-backed ideas to try.

1. Create a Great Onboarding Experience

Improving your retention rate starts with the very first step in the employee lifecycle: onboarding your new hires. You need to purposefully onboard all of your employees, from your staff to nurses and physicians alike, to ensure they’re starting off on the right foot.

That means giving them practical resources to help them adjust to your organization and their new role, but also connecting them to other employees and your organization’s core values right away. A good onboarding process helps new employees feel they’ve made the right choice in their new role, and offers them the support they need to thrive from the very beginning.

2. Focus on Work-Life Balance

Healthcare professionals are extremely hard workers, and they’re deeply dedicated to their jobs caring for patients. But this dedication also means they can struggle to develop a healthy work-life balance, which can exacerbate burnout and stress. Low staffing levels caused by high turnover only make this problem worse.

Healthcare organizations need to support their employees so they can truly have a good work-life balance. This can mean tackling hard tasks like ensuring you are adequately staffed and that every employee has a reasonable schedule with limited or no overtime.

It can also mean implementing flexible schedules and even remote work where it’s possible for the employee’s role. Doctors and nurses may be able to tackle paperwork at home and even take tele-health visits from home sometimes, and this added flexibility can boost job satisfaction and retention.

3. Ask for Employee Input

One big driver of disengagement and turnover, in the healthcare industry and many others, is employees not feeling like their opinions matter or their feedback is valued. Asking for employee feedback gives your healthcare workers the opportunity to tell you what they think of your employee experience, which can help you spot where it can be improved.

For example, if you’re looking for ways to boost retention and engagement, why not send an employee survey out to find out what employees really value? Respondents might tell you about their priorities that have been overlooked, like the need for more professional development opportunities or perks you hadn’t thought of.

Of course, asking for employee feedback only improves retention and engagement if your organization actually listens to, and acts on, that feedback. And be sure to communicate those changes to employees as well so they know you took their opinions to heart.

4. Build Bonds Between Employees

Bonds between employees are critical to retention, especially in a challenging field like healthcare. If your workplace culture is lacking a sense of teamwork and employees feel disconnected from each other, that’s just one more reason to look for another role.

You can purposefully build these bonds with formal programs like mentoring programs, but you can also informally encourage team member bonding by creating social opportunities inside and across departments. And those bonds can, and should, go across roles as well — between doctors and residents, nurses and doctors, and staff and everyone else as well. That makes for a more pleasant and committed workplace.

5. Add in Stay Interviews

More than 30% of nurses are thinking of leaving direct patient care altogether, even though they find the work meaningful, and they cited staffing, pay, and lack of support from leadership as the major reasons they’re considering leaving.

Keep your best talent with you. Get your free Stay Interview Guide today!

stay interview

But if you’re waiting to find out what’s driving your top talent away until they’ve decided to leave and you hold exit interviews, it’s too late to make those meaningful changes. Stay interviews, where you meet with your top performers to check in about what would drive them to leave, and what would encourage them to stay, can boost your retention efforts.

Stay interviews aren’t only about pay and perks — you should also have your managers ask about the employee’s mental health and well-being. Those are important components of morale, and might be contributing to your retention issues.

6. Remove Frustrating Roadblocks

No one enjoys paperwork or bureaucracy, but they’re a part of almost any job. But in American healthcare, often these tasks have become so burdensome that they’re taking physicians and nurses away from their real purpose — patient care — and that’s bad news for job satisfaction.

Asking how you can help employees clear roadblocks that prevent them from doing their jobs effectively and providing great care can illuminate some fixable issues. And solving those issues where possible can create a much better work environment and increase job satisfaction and employee retention.

7. Recognize and Reward Great Work

In healthcare, often people assume that the satisfying work of helping patients in need is its own reward. And it absolutely is — but that doesn’t mean your dedicated doctors, nurses, and staff don’t deserve some additional recognition and appreciation when they’ve done impressive work.

Creating a thoughtful employee recognition program that helps leaders and peers recognize and celebrate great work can help you build a better employee experience and a more positive workplace culture. And those changes can help you keep more of your wonderful people around for the long-haul.

Looking for ways to improve your employee experience at your healthcare organization? Cooleaf can help! We’ve got targeted solutions for hospitals and healthcare teams — learn more today.

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