Patient care won’t improve until your internal culture does

It’s harder than ever to hire and retain staff at medical practices. Here’s what you can do about it.

It’s harder than ever to hire and retain staff at medical practices. The so-called “Great Resignation” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a vexing staffing environment for businesses of all kinds, but especially medical practices and other health care providers.

Furthermore, the challenge for practices is that staff members won’t put up with difficult internal cultures anymore, and a turbulent staff environment has a direct impact on the quality of the patient care you provide, said Heather Towery, MD, the vice president of clinical strategy for Eden Heath.

“Making sure your employees are in engaged is key to your success as a company,” Towery said.

Towery spoke during the HIMSS22 Global Health Conference in Orlando as part of a session called, “Better Patient Care Starts with Engaging Internal Culture.”

The data shared by Towery and her co-presenter, Krystle Castillo MSN, APN, FNP-C, was stark. One in 4 employees have voluntarily left their employment during the pandemic, according to Towery. That has a staggering cost for practices: It can cost 33% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them.

Employees have been quitting for a variety of reasons, said Towery, but the leading ones according to 2021 data from the Achievers’ Workforce Institute are:

  • To earn better compensation (35%)
  • To have work-life balance (25%)
  • To find an employer that better recognizes them (16%)
  • To find an employer with better internal culture (8%)

Furthermore, nearly half (44%) of health care workers are interested in changing jobs, even if they have not seriously tried yet, Towery said.

The benefits of creating an employee engagement campaign to improve your culture can be transformative to your business by increasing profitability and productivity with corresponding decreases in turnover.

So what can practices do about this? There are four steps, Towery said.

1. Onboarding

  • Roll out the red carpet. “You want your employees to feel loved,” Towery said.
  • Hit the mission early and often.
  • Set expectations and clear goals.

2. Scheduling

  1. Provide PTO and personal time.
  2. Multidisciplinary, regional team breakdown.

3. Team Building

Design meaningful meeting structures. “Meet every day,” Towery said. “Huddling is important to get everybody together and get to know each other and what people do.”

  • Break the ice!
  • Align incentives and give meaningful recognition.

4. Sense of Purpose

  1. Give employees opportunities to provide significant input.
  2. Prioritize fan favorite initiatives.
  3. Develop career plans.