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Maureen Waddle

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Create a Staff Retention Strategy to Reduce Turnover

Create a Staff Retention Strategy to Reduce Turnover

While driving through my favorite fast-food establishment, I was given a card saying it was hiring – starting wages at $16.00 per hour. It is not the only business I have seen recently pulling out all the stops on recruiting efforts. It seems like every business nowadays needs employees.

The practices we work with tell us daily that they are looking to hire. It is difficult to find the right talent in today’s labor market. Given that fact, doesn’t it make sense that you should have a good retention strategy? Better to ensure you can keep your team members after you have invested the time, energy, and money to find and train them. This post further explores why a retention strategy is crucial and some of the ways you can develop one.

Retaining Staff is Cost-Efficient

There is a wealth of published evidence around the significant costs associated with high staff turnover. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) takes a broad approach to calculating annual turnover cost:

  • take nine months of the average annual salary of your employees
  • multiply it by the number of turned over positions in the year.

Using that equation, if the nine-month average is $33,000 and you replaced 10 people in the year, the annual turnover cost is $330,000.

More complex and detailed calculators like this one from The Predictive Index include specific costs incurred as a result of the vacancy, including recruiting and onboarding costs and loss of productivity.

However calculated, it is evident that staff turnover is expensive. Investing in employee retention will pay for itself.

A Thoughtful Approach

As an employer, start by defining your value proposition and why staff members will choose and remain with your practice. Think back to that Psych 101 discussion on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

This theory gives great clues not only on the building blocks for a retention strategy but priority components. For example, if you cannot meet staff’s physiological needs (e.g., food, shelter) by paying market wages, it doesn’t matter that you have team building and social activities available. Once those basic needs are fulfilled, you can then progress to the next hierarchy levels to ensure loyalty and growth.

Steps for Creating a Retention Strategy

1.     Ask for Feedback
Never miss an opportunity to ask staff members how you are doing as an employer. This can be done informally every day, but there are two key surveys your practice should conduct.

  • First, a staff satisfaction survey that includes all elements of satisfaction from culture and general working conditions to wages and benefits. Ideally, satisfaction surveys should be conducted every 2-5 years, depending on the frequency and extent of organizational changes.
  • Second, an exit survey with every staff member who decides to leave your organization for any reason. Feedback gathered from departing team members can guide you to specific reasons why employees may choose to leave your practice.

2.     Identify and Correct Any Root Causes for Departure
Based on your informal interviews and formal surveys, identify key concerns. Remember Maslow’s hierarchy to prioritize those items that need more attention and faster action. Below are some of the most common practice survey findings I have seen along with a few improvement tactics to consider.

  • Poor communication. This is the No. 1 staff complaint. Staff members often believe there is a lack of transparency. Another related complaint is that policies or procedures are changed without considering the impact on all departments, or those changes are poorly communicated or trained on. If you find this result in your organization, some tactics to enhance communication include holding daily huddles, scheduling training time, issuing company newsletters (digital or even old-school paper versions), and creating cross-functional task forces and committees.
  • Unclear expectations. Staff members commonly report they are uncertain of their job responsibilities and what managers and doctors expect of them. This causes stress and anxiety. Methods for clarifying expectations include providing a written job description, updating the team monthly with departmental reports and goals, and teaching supervisors and managers techniques for providing regular and clear feedback.
  • Inadequate compensation. It is often easy to use wages as the scapegoat, but if it is consistently cited, then it is time to dig in and do some research. Often practices purposefully have mid-tier market ranges but provide wonderful benefits packages. However, if this is not well communicated, then it may not be fully appreciated. Evaluate wages every couple of years to ensure they are at the right level for your practice’s compensation philosophy and the local market dynamics. Additionally, consider presenting employees with an annual worksheet showing them their total compensation package (time off benefits, retirement benefits, health care, etc.).

3.     Map Out a Career Path
Early in staff’s career, effective onboarding and training processes are most critical in development. As team members become proficient, opportunities for continued growth are key. Set goals for development and talk with staff annually about their desired career path. Determine what resources you can provide to assist them on that path. This might be tuition reimbursement or association membership. Perhaps team members would like to achieve certification or licensure related to their roles. Employees will appreciate your assistance to fund or share in the cost of development. It is OK to set milestones that employees must achieve before gaining access to these benefits. Encouraging professional development ties to both the self-esteem and self-actualization levels of Maslow’s hierarchy while also increasing the skill sets of your staff members.

4.     Establish Opportunities for Kinship
It’s human nature to want to feel part of a group and share a common bond. Create opportunities for staff to connect over non-work interests. Consider some of these ideas we have seen implemented by practices across the country (and we, at BSM, use as well) to satisfy that belonging level on Maslow’s hierarchy.

  • Create a book club.
  • Provide space for hobbyists (sewing, knitting, crafting, etc.) to meet after hours.
  • Have a digital group (e.g., a private Facebook page or a Microsoft Teams group) where people can share G-rated content such as photos of pets, recipes, etc.
  • Sponsor sports teams or events such as softball, bowling, running groups, and skiing.
  • Support charities by providing volunteer opportunities or fundraising. Many people enjoy a sense of community and purpose.
  • Host picnics, pizza days, and staff birthday celebrations.

5.     Be Flexible by Applying Pandemic Learnings
As we learned quickly in early 2020, flexibility can open new opportunities (e.g., remote work options and telemedicine). There are still many opportunities to create a better work/life balance for staff. Those include offering work-from-home options, flexible work hours, and job share programs — common staff requests that can be incorporated into your company culture.

6.     Reward Longevity

If staff members do stay with you, they are saving you money. Use that savings to create a progressive reward system — whether it’s monetary or benefits-based — at milestone anniversaries. This will encourage employees to continue their career with your practice.

Be Intentional

Hiring and hoping staff will stay is not a strategy. Developing a thoughtful retention plan is the best way to improve your chances for success. It shows you care about your team, their well-being, and their satisfaction. This is the best way to keep them engaged and increase the likelihood of their fulfillment and longevity with your practice.

NEED ASSISTANCE WITH STAFF RETENTION? Contact us today or log into BSM Connection for related tools and resources as part of your membership.


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