Is your practice struggling with the high turnover in healthcare? If so, you’re not alone. According to our most recent Healthcare Business Insights Report, 76% of small healthcare practices had 25% of their staff leave last year, (to read more from our Healthcare Business Insights Report, check out our ebook here). Healthcare workers are voluntarily resigning from their jobs and, in some cases, leaving the industry entirely. 

While the pandemic played a significant role in putting overwhelming job stress on healthcare workers, many of the reasons medical staff are quitting, such as pay, benefits, and advancement opportunities, are actually controllable by their organizations.

To help your practice reduce turnover amid the Great Resignation in healthcare, we’ll answer questions like:

  • Why is healthcare turnover going up?
  • What is the average turnover rate in healthcare?
  • How much does turnover cost in healthcare?
  • How do you reduce healthcare turnover?

Explore more healthcare insights in our State of Healthcare Staffing eBook.

Why Is Turnover Increasing in Healthcare?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers experienced a significant spike in mental health issues. While other people were in quarantine at home, healthcare employees, including nurses, doctors, long-term care workers, and other medical and support staff members, had an obligation to go to work in a place where they faced potential exposure to the virus every day.

In 2020, Mental Health America asked healthcare workers what feelings they regularly experienced in the early months of the pandemic, and the following were the top answers:

  • Stress: 93%
  • Anxiety: 86%
  • Frustration: 77%
  • Exhaustion/Burnout: 76%
  • Overwhelmed: 75%

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, around 1 in 5 healthcare workers has left the healthcare industry since the pandemic began. While pandemic-related stress contributed to the higher turnover rate, other factors have played a role in the increasing struggle to fill job openings in healthcare over the last couple of years.

The 2022 NSI National Healthcare Retention and RN Staffing Report cited the average turnover rate in healthcare to be 25.9% in 2021, over 6% higher than the previous year. In particular, the report noted that registered nurse (RN) turnover was highest among hospital positions (27.1%), coming in second only to the certified nursing assistant (CNA) turnover rate (35.5%).

To figure out how to reduce turnover in your healthcare practice, you must start by identifying the primary reasons why employees are resigning from their jobs. The following are the top factors affecting healthcare turnover intention:

Inadequate Pay and Benefits

Many healthcare employees leave their positions to seek higher pay, sometimes even exiting the healthcare industry to get better opportunities. Factors like income gaps between equal employees, lack of raises or bonuses, and few vacation days can drive employees to resign.

When healthcare workers receive fair pay for their skills, they feel more valued by their healthcare organization. Adequately compensated employees have higher job satisfaction and are less likely to leave to find better pay and benefits.

Stressful Workplace Environment and Staff Shortages

Working in healthcare is taxing enough during normal circumstances, but the labor shortage puts even more pressure on the remaining workers. As positions go unfilled, healthcare staff members must take on a heavier workload, often including tasks that aren’t part of their normal patient care duties.

For example, nurses might have to complete extra administrative tasks instead of focusing on their nursing responsibilities, keeping them from providing top-quality patient care. Nurses and other employees deal with burnout and low morale due to the stressful work environment.

Cultivating a positive workplace is essential for keeping your employee retention high. When employees are happy, they have higher engagement and productivity. 

Low Job Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction depends on various aspects of the workplace, such as compensation, schedule flexibility, opportunities for advancement, and more. As nurse turnover rates rise, organizations must prioritize employee well-being to become desirable places to work and prevent nurses and other medical workers from resigning.

Providing excellent pay and benefits, recognizing employees for their hard work, and listening to employee feedback are just a few ways you can help improve satisfaction in the workplace. High levels of employee satisfaction mean workers won’t feel the need to look for other jobs.

Poor Work-life Balance

The excessive demands that employees deal with in healthcare lead to a poor work-life balance. Working long shifts and taking on more responsibilities leaves staff members too tired to cook or enjoy time with family and friends when they get home. 

When a job starts negatively affecting everyday life, employees are more likely to decide quitting is the best option for their health and personal relationships. To combat this with your employees, you should develop strategies like being more flexible with work hours.

Cost of Employee Turnover in Healthcare

High turnover rates come with hefty financial and non-financial costs for healthcare organizations, such as:

  • Recruitment and training costs
  • Productivity losses
  • Reduced quality of care
  • Staffing costs (overtime, agency nurses, etc.)
  • Legal and regulatory costs
  • Reduced patient satisfaction
  • Poor workplace culture

As far as monetary costs go, healthcare finance experts estimate the average cost of turnover could be as much as 150% of a mid-level employee’s salary. As an example, the average turnover cost is about $46,100 for a bedside RN, and retaining one nurse could save the hospital more than $260,000 per year. Overall, RN nurse retention can save the average hospital millions of dollars annually.

Hiring and training can be extremely costly when turnover rates go through the roof. You have to spend money to fill positions, which can take months, depending on the specialization. When you finally hire someone, you’ll have expenses for onboarding and training. You’ll also have to spend resources, including other employees’ time, to help the new staff member acclimate to the position. 

A high turnover rate also affects the quality of care patients receive and overall population health. With a staff shortage, patients often outnumber nurses and other healthcare workers by an unsafe amount, resulting in reduced productivity and nurse burnout. Lower turnover increases patient safety and the quality of care.

How to Reduce Employee Turnover in Healthcare

High staff turnover doesn’t bode well for businesses in any industry, but healthcare organizations have it especially tough when workers are constantly leaving. It negatively impacts the work culture and environment for team members and damages patient satisfaction, effectively undermining the staff’s health care responsibilities. 

If you want to avoid becoming a victim of the current trend in labor statistics, you’ll have to create strategies to reduce turnover. The following are a few ways you can make your organization an appealing place to work:

Allow Flexible Schedules and Work Location

While it’s not an option for all healthcare positions, many organizations can implement schedule flexibility to curb nursing turnover. Allowing nurses to decide their shifts enables them to choose a schedule that works best for their circumstances. 

Many healthcare employees are the primary caregivers of their households, and rigid schedules often interfere with their ability to provide the best family and child care. With no work schedule flexibility, staff members have to choose between staying at a job that gives them poor work-life balance or leaving to pursue a position with more favorable work hours. 

Some employees in healthcare don’t necessarily have to be at the hospital or clinic every day, and letting them work from home all or part of the time is an excellent way to boost the satisfaction of those team members. 

Try Weave phone, text, and team chat to stay in touch with your staff no matter where they’re working.

Make Regular Tasks Easier and Less Stressful

Employee engagement suffers when staff members have to deal with a constant flood of mundane tasks that get in the way of the responsibilities that brought them to the job in the first place. If a nursing staff member spends more time at a desk than with patients, they’re more likely to feel unfulfilled in their position and resign. 

Updating your organization’s processes, including the technology you use to complete tasks, can significantly increase the efficiency of everyday functions. Instead of shuffling through piles of paper files, you can go digital, saving time and money. Nurses and other team members can focus on health care, improving your clinic’s quality of care. 

Get the Weave demo to see how you can save time with digital forms, online scheduling, and automated appointment reminders

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Offer Competitive Compensation

Research revealed that 30% of healthcare workers left their jobs because they were unhappy with their compensation. Competitive pay is the top priority for many employees, and recent trends have shown they aren’t afraid to switch jobs if it means getting better compensation.

Offering your staff competitive pay can significantly reduce turnover, especially combined with improvements in other areas, such as employee benefits. You can research the average wages for healthcare staffing in your area and adjust your team members’ pay accordingly. 

It also goes a long way to establish a transparent statement on compensation, helping you build trust with your team. Besides reducing turnover, competitive, straightforward compensation will make it easier to fill open positions on your staff.

Read our 2023 Healthcare Business Insights Report to find more details on the challenges small healthcare businesses are facing amid staffing shortages.

Provide Opportunities for Career Development

You can improve your clinic’s staff retention by offering educational resources and opportunities for career advancement. If a healthcare worker feels like they’re not getting a chance to grow in their current position, they might leave to gain experience elsewhere.

Instead of letting ambitious team members go, you can reward their hard work and provide resources to help them acquire more skills and experience. You could pay for college classes, online training, or other growth opportunities to help your team members accomplish their career goals.

In return, you’re more likely to have valuable employees that stay with your business. Even if your staff eventually leave to advance in other positions, having a reputation for supporting your employees’ growth will help you attract top talent.

Prioritize Patient-centered Care

Healthcare workers are typically in their current position because, ultimately, they want to help people. Rather than wasting hours of their time on mountains of paperwork, nurses, doctors, and medical team members would rather be using their skills to create excellent outcomes for patients.

You can make more time for quality care by implementing smart communication tools, leading to better teamwork, higher productivity, and increased patient satisfaction. 

Make Your Practice a More Desirable Place to Work

With the turnover in healthcare showing no signs of slowing down, it’s crucial for healthcare businesses to start prioritizing the happiness and well-being of their employees or risk losing them to companies with better offers.

At Weave, we offer an all-in-one communication platform to make everyday functions as easy and efficient as they can be so your team can focus on providing outstanding care. Request a demo to see Weave in action.