It’s clear the pandemic has negatively affected many healthcare professionals — rates of burnout are up and many have been running on fumes for the past year. Now, with COVID-19 cases declining throughout most of the country, many are starting to think about their career options — in fact, a recent survey by CHG Healthcare found that as many as 1 in 4 are considering changing employers in the coming year. To reduce turnover in your organization, here are six ways to improve provider retention and loyalty — both for current employees and the new clinicians you’re looking to hire.
1. Start with onboarding
Retention efforts should begin even before a new physician starts work. Amy Powell, director of provider recruitment and retention at Reid Health, says her organization is focusing their retention efforts on improving their onboarding.
“We’re really laser-focused on creating a streamlined, purposeful contact with our clinicians as they’re onboarding, and we feel that’s going to help us with our retention.”
She says prior to the pandemic, staff at Reid Health weren’t thinking about how it felt to be a clinician in a state of transition, often being asked for the same documents by multiple people. After holding a stakeholder event to fully understand the onboarding process, they’ve streamlined it to ensure all new hires are welcomed into their organization in a more coordinated way.
“If you onboard correctly and make that experience enjoyable and tailored to the provider, that person will get up to speed faster thus creating satisfaction for both the provider and organization,” she says.
2. Provide liaisons and mentors for new hires
In addition to purposeful onboarding, Powell says all new clinicians are enrolled in Reid’s liaison and mentoring programs.
“Providing an introduction to your organization and connecting providers to their referral networks and the community is just as important as onboarding,” says Powell. “Reid’s liaison team starts working with new hires at the time of their start date. They introduce them to key stakeholders, referral network, and community resources. Sometimes just learning an organization takes over a year. Our liaison team helps to speed that process up for new providers.”
Newly hired clinicians also have access to a one-year mentorship program. Mentors often intentionally come from another service line, says Powell, to create space for new clinicians to share doubts or struggles they’re having as they onboard.
3. Solicit and act on feedback
Not only is it important to listen to your clinicians’ feedback, it’s also essential that you hold the organization accountable to acting on what you learn.
At Reid Health, the Physician Engagement and Resilience Committee (PERC) takes this idea seriously. The group is composed of physicians, with support from Powell and other administrative staff. “They recently started a feedback loop process where anyone can fill out a concern form and it’s automated, it goes to the appropriate person and feedback is documented,” says Powell.
The committee meets monthly and all concerns are reviewed at the meeting. “If it’s physician parking, or something with the EMR, action is taken right away. If a concern is not getting addressed, people are going to be asking questions,” says Powell.
Physicians are also able to find out the status of their submission. “That physician or clinician can check in at any time and see where their concern is at in the process, if it’s been resolved or if it’s on hold for some reason. It’s a way to communicate and get a response back to people so that they know they are being heard,” Powell continues.
4. Provide unique benefits
Compensation isn’t the only thing clinicians are interested in, and sometimes additional benefits can be the extra thing that keeps them engaged and strengthens their loyalty.
Creating opportunities for new clinicians and their families to feel like part of their community is one way Reid Health hopes to retain their employees. “We’ve recently started offering memberships at our country club as a benefit,” says Powell. “So many times, the physician is happy, and they love practicing here but their family doesn’t get engaged in the community. So, we’re offering memberships to try and connect and engage families in the local community.”
Medical school debt can also be a burden for clinicians, so Reid Health is offering ways to help them better manage their finances. “As a nonprofit, we qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program,” says Powell. “That program has a lot of myths and many physicians don’t completely trust it. We’ve engaged an outside firm who specializes in student loan navigation, and it gives them a resource to tackle their loan repayment. We hope that resource is a motivation to help them stay for the long-term.”
5. Measure provider retention
How you determine the success of your retention efforts will vary for each organization, but it’s important to have success metrics and track them. Reid Health looks at turnover rates as well as locums spend to determine if their employee retention strategies are working. “We want to see locum expense and turnover rates going down,” says Powell. “A small reduction in turnover pays off big time when you’re talking about physician retention.”
She says another thing she has noticed is that many clinicians who have left have later returned to work at Reid Health. “I think that speaks highly of us. We have several instances of people leaving and figuring out the grass isn’t greener on the other side.”
6. Listen to your clinicians
Ultimately, Powell believes listening to your clinicians is the most important healthcare provider retention tool.
“Listen to your physicians, ask them for feedback, and don’t be afraid to try something. Try it, assess it after a period of time, and if it works, great. If it doesn’t, it’s ok to say, ‘You know what? That didn’t work. Let’s try something different,’” says Powell.
“I think that listening to your physicians and what their needs are is the most important aspect of trying to retain them.”
CHG can provide your healthcare facility with the physicians and advanced practice providers you need to grow your organization. To learn more, contact us by phone at 866.588.5996 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.