3 Solutions to staff turnover at your practice

These tips can keep you from seeking new staff.

Medical practices around the country are experiencing a myriad of challenges, including record levels of turnover, unrealistic expectations from patients, and burnout exacerbated by the continuing pandemic. It’s an unfortunate reality for physicians and healthcare practices, especially when it’s trickling down to the patients’ outcomes in a domino-effect—from the waiting rooms to the often-rushed care due to the increased number of patients. In response, practices have been implementing new technologies to help streamline their processes and revamping benefits for employees.

Factors driving burnout and turnover among healthcare workers

Let’s start with physician burnout. This was a huge problem even prior to the pandemic, as physicians reported burnout from “excessive workload” and “work inefficiency,” according to a JAMA study conducted in 2018. In August 2021, Software Advice surveyed healthcare professionals, including 207 family and general practitioners, and 50 mental health therapists, to understand their experiences with burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal was to figure out what strategies actually work to mitigate the stress of treating patients during this time.

Healthcare providers are still experiencing crippling staffing shortages—including essential nurses, physicians, techs, and management. The mass exodus from healthcare is real and alarming. Thus, making healthcare harder to access for the public, more expensive, and in some cases; less effective.

Diving into the numbers
Here are the findings from Software Advice’s survey regarding burnout among providers:

  • 64% of providers surveyed considered leaving their job in 2021.
  • 25% of providers surveyed have considered a career change during the pandemic while 39% have considered early retirement.
  • 82% of providers said flexible work hours would help alleviate burnout, and 77% said increased paid time-off would help significantly.

Unfortunately, only 29% of healthcare professionals surveyed have been given more flexible hours and only 11% have seen an increased paid time-off. This is indicative of a larger issue where management and staff don’t make compromises, leading to toxic work environments where employees feel undervalued and start exploring other career opportunities.

Physicians and therapists aren’t the only ones suffering from burnout: Software Advice recently ran a survey of medical employees (excluding practice owners, founders, and executives). Out of the 278 respondents that have considered leaving their current jobs, burnout was a top reason they are exploring other job options. The two key retention methods they cited included increased salary (64%) and remote working options (59%). Outlined below are proven methods to help improve office morale, attract skilled workers, and retain staff.

Solutions to keep skilled physicians and healthcare workers

Hybrid-telemedicine options and flex hours are viable options for medical staff

According to employees working at practices that adopted new measures to combat burnout, flexible work hours and increased paid time off were the most helpful measures taken by employers. A hybrid-telemedicine approach—from physicians to techs—is a great option and can be implemented quickly with the right tools.

Employers need to bring relief to their staff as soon as possible, especially if they are already facing an unsatisfactory work environment. Other considerations include reducing practice hours of operations, which can make it easier for employees to work with an already reduced number of staff.

Mitigating burnout by adopting telemedicine systems, patient portals, and wellness programs

Not all physician practices have adopted the newest technologies. In fact, some measures physicians took during the pandemic include software-related telemedicine systems to help facilitate remote patient care and scheduling tools. Additionally, adopting patient portals have helped automate systems and enable better communication between providers and patients. This helps eliminate the hassle for staff and provides more peace of mind for patients already experiencing delays in care.

Investing in wellness and support programs—from free therapy to reimbursement for self-care activities (gym memberships, training, workout equipment, messages, etc.)—will also incentivize staff to take charge of their health and provide the much-needed opportunity to recharge on their off-hours.

Offer raises and creative benefits, especially during record inflation

Now is the time to get creative with your perks and benefits and keep a watchful eye on the current state of the economy. Start asking yourself the following questions: What can you offer that sets you apart from competition? Looking to alleviate some of those major pain points for your employees? Consider sending out an anonymous survey to see how they’re really feeling and take action.

Making an investment in your staff, in the form of raises, is ultimately the top cited reasons for employees staying. It doesn’t have to be a huge raise to make a difference—63% of survey respondents said they received between 1% and 3% of their base salary. Other benefits to consider include childcare stipends, commuter benefits, or even pet insurance—all of which can prove to be powerful recruiting and retention tools.

Following these tips is a step in the right direction to help overcome negative office morale, burnout, and turnover. The impact it could have would be beneficial not just for employees; it could also provide better patient care and health outcomes.

Lisa Hedges is the Senior Medical Analyst at Software Advice, a company that helps businesses across multiple industries—including healthcare—navigate the software buying journey through personalized recommendations, objective research, and actionable insights.

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Survey methodology

Physician Burnout Survey, 2021
Software Advice conducted this survey in August, 2021 of 257 healthcare providers to learn more about pandemic-related burnout and how healthcare providers should address burnout. Respondents were screened for general and family practitioners (207) and mental health therapists (50) currently working in U.S. practices with 20 or fewer licensed providers.

Healthcare Employee Retention Survey, 2021
Software Advice conducted this survey in October 2021. We used screening questions to capture 987 medical employees (excluding practice owners, founders, and executives) who have been working at a healthcare facility with no more than 20 licensed providers for at least six months.

From there, we further narrowed the respondents down to 278 who have considered leaving their current jobs since the onset of the pandemic, but haven’t yet.