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Home - Healthcare Life - Article

Management

How to Retain Your Best Employees

The cost of employee turnover adds hundreds of thousands of rupees to a company's expenses, says Dr Rashi Agarwal

Now that so much is being done by organisations to retain its employees, why is retention so important? Is it just to reduce the turnover costs? Well, the answer is a definite no. Average attrition rate in hospitals is about 15 to 25 per cent. Apart from turnover costs, there are several other reasons why the process of employee retention will benefit an organisation:

  • The Cost of Turnover: The cost of employee turnover adds hundreds of thousands of rupees to a company's expenses. Turnover costs include hiring costs, training costs and productivity loss. While it is difficult to get the exact estimate of turnover costs, industry experts often quote 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the average employee salary as a conservative estimate.
  • Interruption of Patient Care: Patients most often come to a hospital in part because of the people. Relationships are developed that encourage comfort and care for a patient. When an employee leaves, the relationships that he/she built for the hospital are severed, which could lead to potential customer loss. Also, continuity of care is severed, which causes a lot of discomfort for the patient leading to dissatisfaction.
  • Lost Productivity: If an employee resigns, then good amount of time is lost in hiring a new employee and then training him/her, and this goes to the loss of the hospital directly, which many a times goes unnoticed. And even after this you cannot ensure the same efficiency from the new employee.
  • Attrition leads to more attrition: The effect of attrition is felt throughout the organisation. Co-workers are often discouraged and the negativity affects the remaining staff and some more people may eventually leave.
  • Loss of Internal Information: When an employee leaves, he takes with him valuable internal information, customers, current projects and past history (sometimes to competitors). Often much time and money have been spent on the employee in expectation of a future return. When the employee leaves, the investment is not realised.
  • Goodwill of the Hospital: The goodwill of a hospital is maintained when the attrition rates are low. Higher retention rates motivate potential employees to join the organisation.

HR costs are about 30 per cent of the total hospital cost. Salaries increase anything from 12-14 per cent every year. With increasing demand for talent both within the country and internationally, the challenge for any human resource department is attraction and retention of staff. A major challenge for the healthcare industry would be not only to retain the workforce but also to develop an environment which would attract those abroad to return. According to a survey, nearly 70 per cent of the 110 healthcare providers surveyed had difficulty retaining workers with critical skills. According to another study conducted in healthcare industry, 63 per cent of the respondents said that the lack of availability and retention of trained manpower is their biggest challenge. In order to achieve the 1:1,000 doctor-patient ratio, as recommended by WHO, to catch up with the best world practices, India needs six lakh doctors and one million nurses right away, besides the need for other paramedical and healthcare management personnel.

The biggest and most important strategy for retention of employees is to induce the feeling of 'being looked after' by the organisation.

Work Environment

  • A satisfied employee clearly knows what is expected from him every day at work. There should be a specific framework that clearly gives him his job description.
  • The ability of the employee to speak his or her mind freely within the organisation is another key factor in employee retention.
  • Foster an environment of teamwork that in turn increases productivity.
  • Communicate openly, there is nothing at more important than communication.
  • Train your frontline, supervisors and administrators. The quality of the supervision an employee receives is critical to employee retention.
  • Show your employees that you value them. Respect them and appreciate them. Every human appreciates being appreciated.
  • Make room for fun—all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy—e.g. picnics, celebrations etc. Make work fun!
  • Give people the best equipment and supplies possible.
  • Give convenience-convenient hours, part time possibilities, services on job location etc. (Yes, his mother’s health and his son’s cricket match are important.)
  • Give your employees greater control on the processes and authority to take decisions in their present job. Management can assign extra responsibilities to their employees and appreciate them on the completion of these tasks. This will induce a sense of pride in the employee and will improve the relationship between the management and the employee. Infact employees feel more responsible, if they are given extra responsibilities apart from their regular job.

Career Advancements, Perks & Benefits:

Provide adequate advancement opportunities with a clear career path and develop an effective orientation and induction programme. Encourage learning through training programmes, tuition reimbursements and initiate on job training programmes. Incorporate an objective performace management system that evaluates KRAs twice a year. Recognise an employee’s achievement and reward him accordingly because bonuses and perks go a long way in employee satisfaction.

Offer fair and competitive salaries; though this is not the most important factor in employee retention and ranks lower, you cannot ignore the importance of fair compensation. Pay your best employees above average salaries. Give out bonuses on the success of both the employee and the organisation and make it limitless within company parameters (for example, pay ten percent of organisation’s profits to employees). Inculcate long term retention schemes like gratuity etc.

Retention Strategies

The practice of retention is not as easy as it seems. There are so many tactics and strategies used to enhance retention, but the basic purpose is lost which should be to increase employee satisfaction, boost employee morale and hence achieve retention. The aforementioned can be achieved by addressing small issues, for instance, by making someone accountable for retention within your HR department and conducting employee satisfaction surveys. Sometimes you will be surprised at how small issues like availability of coffee in the pantry can improve employee satisfaction and retention. Write a mission statement for each department and lay out goals for each employee. This inculcates a sense of responsibility. Let an employee use his varied skill set in multiple areas exposing to different facets of work. Hire non clinical aides to assist the clinicians. This goes a long way in retaining your clinical employees.

At most times, these strategies are not used properly or even worse, wrong strategies are used due to which the desired results are not achieved.

There are many myths related to the employee retention process. These myths prevent the employer from successfully implementing the retention strategies. Few common myths include increasing salary and incentives. Money is not the only driving factor. Job satisfaction is more important in key positions where people do not have to fight for survival. It is also a myth that taking measures to increase employee satisfaction will be expensive for the organisations. The things actually required to improve employee satisfaction like respect, career growth and development, appreciation, etc cannot be bought- they are free of cost. What really glues employees to their work and organisation is quality work, meaningful responsibilities, recognition, respect, growth opportunities and friendly supervisors. An employer or management that reacts well to the employee’s ideas and suggestions is enough for the employees to be retained. Enough emphasis cannot be laid on importance of these factors over compensation.

In a milieu where employees get a sense of achievement and belongingness from a healthy work environment, the company is benefited with stronger, reliable, and unswerving personnel harbouring bright new ideas for its growth.

We belong to the millennium workforce that needs independence, authority, flexibility, learning, fun and convenience. Your people are your biggest asset, invest in them!

Attract good people, retain the better ones, and advance the best!

The author is Director, PRAXIS- A New Dimension to Healthcare, Mumbai
rashi@praxishc.com

 

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