Any healthcare managers understand that the value of healthcare practice is only as good as the staff. Today, much emphasis is placed on a multidisciplinary team to deliver care, implying that maintaining healthcare staff to meet current healthcare needs is vital for the practice to achieve intended goals. However, healthcare managers face a critical challenge of recruiting and retaining the best talents for the practice.
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In this regard, the most effective approaches to overcome staff recruitment and retention issue include adjusting organizational values to account for contemporary workplace dynamics, well-designed compensation programs, creating a sense of belonging among employees, developing a sense of self-esteem, and training and developments. These approaches can simply be adopted from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs because such needs are extremely relevant to all employees irrespective of their positions.
The workforce has become more dynamic. The modern workforce consists of highly skilled, multitalented, ambitious individuals who have diverse perspectives about work. The so-called GenX professionals have moved to replace the aging workforce. At the same time, opportunities in healthcare have continued to increase significantly.
Consequently, healthcare facilities must compete for the same workforce against other organizations, leading to strain on recruitment and retention. While attracting fresh talent is a critical role of hospital management, retaining the recruited healthcare professionals could be a serious challenge. Hence, retention also requires the same attention as recruitment.
One must understand the challenge in details to know the magnitude of the problem. Hospital managers, particularly the human resource managers are charged with the responsibility of staff recruitment and retention. A significant link has been found between organizational performance and the quality of staff recruited.
Thus, the recruitment and retention abilities are major roles for healthcare management. A lack of sufficient workforce could lead to massive failure of strategic plans and organizational mission. It is necessary to comprehend why healthcare professionals choose to leave their jobs. The reasons could be less apparent or simple, but they all have the same impact – inadequate healthcare professionals to cater for the growing needs of patients.
First, it has been noted that there is a decline in the rate of population growth since the 1960s (Holtz 1). Consequently, the labor market is adversely affected. The modern generation is taking up roles left behind by aging baby boomers. It is also observed that baby boomers have greater life expectancy, and healthcare facilities are striving to meet their health needs with reduced staff. Second, the already difficult labor condition is further made worse by financial difficulties of managed care. Third, other private organizations tend to offer more wages relative to hospitals.
Hence, healthcare organizations must compete with these organizations for the same talent. Fourth, the challenge arises from schools where enrollment in healthcare courses has declined as students opt for other attractive courses. In addition, a new trend has emerged in which current healthcare workers exit the profession for other different opportunities. Finally, within the sector, other healthcare providers may poach for staff from other hospitals. This practice could be rampant when little ethics exist to inhibit it.
Healthcare workers often leave the profession because of prospect for increased compensation and rewards in other professions. In addition, the lack of correlation between the pay and performance has also contributed to employee departure. Other nurses have noted that the absence of new opportunities for career and personal growth has also led to staff attrition. In this instances, healthcare workers feel that they lack support or unappreciated by their employers, or they lack sufficient resources to perform their tasks.
Healthcare workers have also cited unclear goals and expectations in their facilities. In most instances, such issues lead to job dissatisfaction among healthcare workers. Management has been noted has too unresponsive, withdrawn, rarely ask for inputs from nurses and does not seem to acknowledge nurse role in the profession.
Nurses have also complained that their role is now clerical because of increased documentation of patient details. At the same time, nurses complain of burnout due to increased numbers of critically ill patients who require greater care (McHugh et al. 202).
Healthcare management can play critical roles to avert high rates of attrition and increase staff retention. First, the management can change values to develop employee loyalty. Healthcare managers who fail to recognize the shift in labor market and subsequently fail to formulate policies that recognize shift in employee attitude are most likely to suffer drawbacks with regard to employee recruitment and retention.
Gen Xers will seek for employment in organizations that offer more flexibility and respect dynamics in the workplace. The current workforce is made of individuals who have experienced job cuts, layoffs, downsizing and poor career growth among the previous generations. Consequently, they have developed different work ethics characterized by enhanced sense of independence, limited self-sacrifice for the good of organizations and improved self-reliance. They take more roles, want to advance fast and at the same time, ensure work-life balance.
A culture change can also be an appropriate method of enhancing employee recruitment and training. Managers should present a business case to demonstrate impacts of turnover on the organization. Consequently, leaders will support such culture shift to enhance employee loyalty and retention. Hospitals should track their retention performance and use information to formulate training and development programs that enhance employee engagement in decision-making, training, supervision, and mentor programs.
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Therefore, healthcare managers should develop flexible work schedules for the current breed of employees. Hospitals, for instance, can condense working hours to allow for adequate time for work-life balance. This approach is most likely to reduce burnout and stress among healthcare workers. Consequently, fewer employees will leave the profession.
Nurse managers who understand what their employees consider important are most likely to recruit and retain more employees. In this regard, healthcare managers should consider changes in the modern workforce and develop strategic plans using simple models such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to account for diverse needs of their staff. For example, healthcare may recognize that employees require better compensation, job safety, a sense of belonging and self-esteem.
Healthcare managers also need to review their compensation strategy. Obviously, through a robust, competitive reward program healthcare organizations can also recruit and retain the best talents in the labor market. While compensation alone cannot guarantee employee retention, it is a good starting point to improve terms of employment. Well-designed compensation programs are relevant. For instance, healthcare managers may change certain provisions such as sign-on bonuses or bonuses evenly paid over time.
Healthcare facilities can also pay higher wages to attract and retain highly talented employees. In this case, employees are most likely to be attracted to such facilities because of good reputation. Consequently, healthcare managers can control high rates staff turnover. Employees develop a sense of pride for their organization, which is only focused on the best employees, effective screening, selection and compensation.
Healthcare managers also need to create a work environment that promotes a sense of belonging among employees. Employees who demonstrate stronger connection with their organizations are often reluctant to leave their jobs. Healthcare managers therefore have a responsibility to develop programs that encourage a sense of connectedness and belonging. For instance, excellence performance should be rewarded to create a sense of belonging. A sense of connectedness can also be created through information and knowledge sharing.
Organizations that withhold information from employees create unproductive culture. Hence, the relationship should be facilitated through open communication to build trust among employees. Hospital managers can encourage open communication through regular sharing and publishing information using the intranet, chat rooms, notice boards and bulletin boards among others. Open discussions also encourage information sharing. For instance, hospital management may discuss financial performance with their employees to engage them in revenue generation processes. This can create a sense of ownership among employees.
Hospitals also require a collaborative environment that promotes team spirit. A multidisciplinary team is most likely to develop a strong bond between team members. A strong personal bond can emerge between staff members and further develop a sense of belonging and a community of work. It is imperative to recognize that strategies that enhance a sense of belonging have no or negligible financial burden to an organization. Hence, even budget strained healthcare facilities should not fail to create a sense of connectedness between staff members and the organization.
Healthcare managers can enhance employee recruitment and retention by adopting effective programs that promote self-esteem of individual employees. In this case, employment policies should promote better relations between managers and employees. In addition, measuring employee performance should be regular and scheduled to promote transparent processes and act as employee retention strategy.
Feedback should be immediate and constructive for employees. Such approaches encourage employees to be self-driven. Managers should recognize and appreciate an exemplary effort from employees. Employees should also be encouraged to nominate their peers for excellence performances, and awards for such employees should be open.
Employers should assist their employees to attain their best performance. This can be classified under self-actualization. For instance, training and development, fee reimbursement, mentor programs and on-the-job training should encourage employees to stay with their employers. In most cases, employees who are trained by employers feel comfortable and do not frequently leave their jobs. Hospitals should develop in-house training to develop major skills and knowledge required for various roles among employees.
Orientation training programs, for instance, are ideal for newly recruited employees. Training programs should be formal, structured or even informal and unstructured to enhance skills and knowledge acquisition. Hospital managers should also offer technical training and provide current information and new healthcare devices to motivate staff while developing their knowledge base, skills and competencies.
Such improved competencies and skills would allow employees to perform at the highest levels based on their qualifications and training. Training and development programs should be continuous while accounting for a wide range of topics and methods adjusted to meet unique training needs of specific staff members.
In most cases, healthcare managers are concerned about costs associated with employee retention (Jones and Gates Manuscript 4). However, costs are normally related to certain retention methods applied by an organization. Healthcare facilities may opt for increasing nurse wages, redesigning work environments, purchasing new equipment and/or introducing training and development programs among others. Since healthcare facilities may adopt a combination of techniques to cater for their diverse needs and budgets, costs may vary considerably.
While some strategies adopted may be free to implement, others may be cost-intensive and even difficult to quantify based on return on investment. Organizations that adopt widely accepted practices such as involving employees in decision-making processes, culture change, improving work environments, enhancing leadership, and offering support to employees may not be able to quantify such costs. However, their impacts on employee recruitment and retention could be obvious.
Healthcare management faces a critical challenge of employee recruitment and retention. It is also noted that the quality of care delivered depends on the quality of staff available. Given the major drawbacks associated with high rates of attrition, healthcare managers must adopt specific strategies that can help to combat dysfunctional attrition rates in their organizations.
Appropriate strategies that focus on culture change, recognizing labor market shifts and even adopting simple practices developed by Maslow can help managers to enhance recruitment and retention in their organizations.
While costs are associated with strategies that improve recruitment and retention strategies, some notable practices such as culture change, involving employees in decision-making, improving work environment, providing effective leadership and recognizing workforce dynamics may not involve costs or such costs could be negligible. Employees are most likely to stay with their current employees when working conditions are favorable.
Holtz, Greg. “Hospital Staff Retention Strategies in the Managed Care Era.” Cath Lab Diest (2002): 1. Print.
Jones, Cheryl Bland and Michael Gates. “The Costs and Benefits of Nurse Turnover: A Business Case for Nurse Retention.” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing (2007): Manuscript 4. Print.
McHugh, Matthew D., Ann Kutney-Lee, Jeannie P. Cimiotti, Douglas M. Sloane and Linda H. Aiken. “Nurses’ Widespread Job Dissatisfaction, Burnout, And Frustration With Health Benefits Signal Problems For Patient Care.” Health Affairs (Millwood) (2011): 202–210. Print.