How physician leaders can improve employee retention

As an executive physician, you know the concerns surrounding unsustainable healthcare staff and leadership turnover.

High turnover rates have serious financial, professional, and patient-care implications. In 2023, 40% of healthcare professionals flat-out resigned, resulting in low employee morale and hundreds of millions in lost revenue.

Physicians applying for executive positions must understand the impact of employee turnover and prepare solutions to gain confidence from hiring committees. Understanding the healthcare staffing ‘leaky funnel’ will also help you secure a long-term leadership position.

Let us explore how you can ace your interview when asked about retention strategies and ensure a productive workforce and continuity of care.

Leading Causes of Healthcare Leadership and Employee Turnover:

Stress and burnout are the primary contributors to turnover in the healthcare industry, as reported by a Sermo physician survey.

A poll from summer 2022 of 233 healthcare executives reported 74% experienced burnout over the past six months, up from 60% in 2018. 93% said burnout is negatively impacting their organization, up from 79% four years earlier. Even more concerning, CEO turnover is up 18% year over year.

Other leading causes are the aging workforce, gaps in pay or benefits, disjointed onboarding, and a lack of educational and advancement opportunities. Addressing these challenges requires direct action from healthcare practice directors and organizations.

Proven Strategies for Increasing Employee Retention in Healthcare:

The Physician leadership recruitment process is long and multi-staged. Without a doubt you will be questioned about your plan to address staffing shortages. Here are strategies you should consider including in your vision statement to galvanize the search committee and C-Suite.

This gives them a tangible plan to base their hiring decision. Plus, it helps you determine if this position will be the right fit for you.

  • Improve recruiting, onboarding, and training: This is essential to reduce the leaky employee pipeline. Personalized checklists, clear goals, senior-led onboarding programs, and regular check-ins with employees create an efficient and supportive environment. This leads to faster productivity and improved job satisfaction (plus fewer headaches for you).
  • Invest in employee engagement: Engaged employees are more satisfied, focused, and involved in decision-making. Tangible strategies such as coaching and mentoring programs prove an organization’s commitment to employees’ career goals and foster a sense of value.
  • Encourage continuing education and certification: Providing opportunities for professional development, such as CEUs, improves job satisfaction and patient outcomes. A University of Minnesota study found that nurses who completed 15 CEUs or more per year had reduced medical error rates and improved patient care.
  • Regularly ask for and act on employee feedback: Managers play a vital role in retention and satisfaction. Regularly seeking feedback through surveys or interviews, and taking action based on the results fosters a coaching culture and provides advancement opportunities for employees.
  • Actively monitor and prevent employee burnout: Burnout is a significant concern in healthcare. Proactively monitoring employee stress levels and implementing measures like flexible hours and wellness programs help prevent burnout, up-lifting staff well-being and morale.

How physician leadership can address healthcare shortages:

Improving healthcare retention and employee engagement protects investment in staff and patient care. With effective strategies, healthcare leadership can foster a satisfied and productive team, leading to better patient outcomes and a thriving business bottom line.

Looking for more strategies and research on physician leadership?

Consider joining our partner Sermo. You can network with over 1 million verified doctors, receive physician-specific resources, earn for your knowledge, and discover even more career advancement opportunities.

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