Report: HR Executives in Healthcare Say Retention More Important Than Recruitment

A recently released survey by The Workforce Institute at Kronos International found that 9 out of 10 respondents believed retaining top employees was more important than recruiting new hires. The research showed that while many of those in healthcare are happy in their current roles, less than half of healthcare HR professionals surveyed felt they were in a position to adequately empower their employees.

Conducted with Regina Corso Consulting, the report “2020 Vision: Working in the Future of Healthcare” took responses from 355 registered nurses, human resources executives, and IT professionals working in the healthcare industry in the United States.

The respondents worked at hospitals, large health systems, or long-term care facilities.

The healthcare employees surveyed were content in their current roles; however, many saw areas at their workplace that could be improved. For example, about 57% of registered nurses and about 70% of IT professionals agreed that their companies put in the maximum effort to retain good employees. Yet, HR professionals reported that a mere 18% of their employees were “very satisfied” in their careers.

Employees, though, do seem to believe their employer supports them. In fact, 80% of IT professionals said that they believed their managers had the tools to make appropriate decisions for their departments. Meanwhile, 64% of nurses reported that they believed their companies had “their best interests in mind” when bringing in new types of work processes.

Those who were at the organization longer and those working at smaller healthcare companies reported higher overall work satisfaction.

Healthcare employees expect more than just a good salary

Joyce Maroney, the executive director of The Workforce Institute, said in a press release announcing the study’s findings that in order to keep employee satisfaction high — which would keep top talent — work culture must be a priority for organizations. A decent salary alone wouldn’t suffice. Providing development opportunities and scheduling flexibility could help retain staff.

“More than ever, the frontline workforce has freedom to be highly selective among a sea of employers actively hiring for open roles. Good pay alone isn’t enough to attract high performers in healthcare or keep your best nurses from leaving,” Maroney said.

Maroney’s comments echoed the research results. The study found that 87% valued schedule flexibility and 76 percent valued schedules prioritizing the employee’s preference. Respondents also overwhelmingly said that an employer of choice would empower them to be in their top game. In this regard though, HR executives weren’t so confident that they could provide it. Only 32% of healthcare HR professionals agreed that they gave their employees sufficient career development in the form of job shadowing or mentorship.

Opportunities exist for HR technology to make a significant impact

These executives were a bit uncertain about their tech, too. Just one out of five respondents were “very satisfied” with the system they used. The survey showed that a majority of 52% of HR executives ranked investments in workplace technology as a priority.

“Technology and the need for innovation in healthcare is driving positive outcomes,” said Nanne Finis, the chief nurse executive at Kronos, adding that healthcare IT had become central in “driving work efficiency and effectiveness.”

“In many ways, it is a differentiator as today’s most intelligent HCM technologies are empowering organizations to deliver an attractive work culture and unlock the true potential of their workforce,” Finis continued.

Retention is vital for a growing industry

As far as nursing is concerned, there is an expected employment growth of 12 percent between 2018 and 2028, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. This means that nursing will grow faster than most other occupations in the U.S. Last year, the healthcare jobs market grew, with over 40 percent of hospitals expecting an increase in their workforce, according to the 2019 National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report, published by NSI Nursing Solutions, Inc.

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However, turnover increased by 0.9 percent — the highest of the decade. That increase could impact retention. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing said that the nursing shortage and insufficient staffing drove some employees from their careers because of the stress it caused current workers.

That turnover, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported, may even have a direct link to access to healthcare in the U.S. and patient care.

In this environment, the survey results published by Kronos may not come as a surprise to those already working in the field of healthcare HR.

“It’s not that I feel that retention is more of a concern than acquisition is. I know it is,” Sebastien Girard, Senior Vice President of Workforce Engagement at Atrium Health, told TLNT. Atrium Health is a not-for-profit hospital network. Girard said that creating a workplace where employee concerns and feedback are taken seriously is vital for retention and that employees should know they have been heard by management and that the business care about issues they may face.

Prioritizing employee experience is also central to keeping talent. Girard explained that “companies who focus on [employee] experience are successful in retention.”

That focus on experience is a “mindset” HR professionals should get behind, he said.

Overall, HR professionals may find that centering employee experience would help dislodge the concern for retaining talent.

“We need to move into a world where we are not only going to engage [employees],” said Girard, but to also understand how employees feel about their roles and their place at their organization.

Alex Cooper is a journalist based in South Carolina. He has covered everything from HR to corruption to human rights to community news. Alex previously served as the engagement editor for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. He also ran editorial at UNLEASH. Alex's work has been featured on NBC News, Slate, and elsewhere.

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