From hospital capacity to racial disparities, the pandemic has called many of the American healthcare system’s pitfalls to public attention. Among these complex issues is one that human resources professionals have the power to change: the crisis of healthcare worker turnover. 

The average hospital has turned over 90.8 percent of its workforce since 2016. Not only does this extreme churn cost healthcare organizations $4.4M to $6.9M in average added expenses each year, it also has grave consequences for the quality of patient care. 

Reducing healthcare worker turnover is both a financial and public health imperative. By aligning with generational priorities, focusing on employee engagement, and optimizing benefits for burnout prevention, human resources leaders in the healthcare industry can make a difference. 

Align with Millennial (and Gen Z) employees’ priorities 

When in doubt, just ask, “What would Doogie Howser do?

Well, not quite. But three quarters of the healthcare workforce are now younger than 50, and aligning HR strategies with younger generations’ priorities is key to keeping employees connected to your org. 

  • Mirrored values: 80 percent of Millennials would be more committed at work if they felt their employer made a positive impact on society, and 84 percent of Gen Z wants to do purposeful work for an employer they believe in. Socializing organizational values with employees creates trust and buy-in, as do audits to compare how practices and policies align with stated principles. 
  • Career path: 87 percent of Millennials say that they value professional growth opportunities at work. If your organization doesn’t offer career development opportunities or encourage advancement, you’ll lose staff to an employer who does.
  • Job-hopping: Three quarters of the under-34 crowd think that changing jobs multiple times is beneficial to their careers. It’s up to HR stakeholders to build—and mobilize—an intentional retention strategy that shows Millennial and Gen Z employees the value of staying put. 

Focus on employee engagement

An engaged employee is a retained employee—and only 57 percent of healthcare employees are engaged at work. Before your organization can ask its workforce to make a long-term commitment, HR leaders must first cultivate an employee-employer relationship that makes workers want to stay.

  • Surveys: 96 percent of employees say that empathy drives retention. But how can you develop and demonstrate empathy at an organization- or unit-level scale? Surveys. And not only do surveys build empathy and boost engagement, but employees are also eager to share: a recent study found that 77 percent of workers want to be surveyed more frequently.
  • Recognition: Employees who don’t feel recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll leave their jobs within a year. In a fast-paced healthcare environment, it’s essential that HR leaders intentionally make space for recognition programs that make employees feel seen and appreciated by their supervisors, peers, and patients. 
  • Management training: Supervisors account for 70 percent of variance in employee engagement rates. Setting in-depth management training requirements more fully enables leaders to do their part in the retention lifecycle. 

Optimize employee benefits for burnout prevention

93 percent of healthcare workers report feeling stressed on a regular basis. While mental health coverage provides tools to manage the symptoms of burnout-inducing stress, employers can do more to mitigate the causes of stress with comprehensive employee benefits.

  • Help at home: 63 percent of healthcare workers report being too tired to cook and do chores when they come home from work. Offering meal kit subscriptions and laundry or housekeeping services frees up more downtime for much-needed R&R. 
  • Support for parents: Among healthcare workers with children, 48 percent say that parenting causes significant stress, and 79 percent say that finding balance between family and work responsibilities is difficult. Benefits like daycare stipends, flexible schedules, and family leave are essential to retaining employees with children. 
  • Financial wellness: Financial stress impacts at least 40 percent of healthcare workers. One common (and significant) theme in their financial woes: healthcare workers have nearly $10,000 more student loan debt than workers in any other field. HR leaders have the power to keep employees engaged—and stress levels down—by offering benefits to help employees manage and pay off their student loans. 

Ready to explore how student loan assistance benefits can reduce healthcare worker turnover at your organization? Candidly can help. We offer curated, comprehensive tools that help healthcare workers:

  • Enroll in income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs
  • Find the best rates for student loan refinancing and consolidation
  • Learn key personal finance skills with exclusive educational resources
  • Get ahead on debt repayment with tax-incentivized employer contributions
  • Chip away at student debt with spare change from everyday purchases and cash back