What Happens When a Staff Member Outgrows Their Roles?

December 18, 2015

By: Steph Weber It’s natural for employees to outgrow their roles. Here’s how to decide if employees should stick around or move on when that happens.

Employee turnover is a natural part of a practice’s lifecycle. As employees gain experience, certifications, and additional education, it’s expected they will eventually outgrow their initial roles.

Whether you should retain them by moving them to a better-suited position or let them go entirely is a tough decision. Here’s how to weigh the pros and cons.

Utilize employee reviews

While you may suspect that an employee is ready to move on, it can be difficult to truly gauge. Establishing an ongoing review process will help.

“A formal employee review process can document performance,” said Jonathan Doctor, managing partner at DeNovo Health Partners, LLC, a healthcare consulting and investment firm located in Los Angeles, Calif. “If an existing employee has the skill set to move into another role that is more in line with their [career] goals, that move should be made.”

Retain at all costs?

Ideally, employees would always be able to advance to roles within the practice that best utilize their existing skills. However, that’s just not practical for a multitude of reasons. For example, there may not be an opening for that particular position or the expected increase in pay can’t be easily absorbed into the practice’s overhead costs.  

Despite those hindrances, retention is still usually the best option.   

“Retention, even at an increased cost, is generally preferable to losing a valued employee, especially when you consider the costs of finding and training a [replacement],” said Joshua Steiner, doctor of osteopathic medicine and a board-certified family physician practicing in Hollywood, Fla.

If the practice can’t sustain increases in employee pay, there are plenty of other incentives to offer instead. Depending on the practice, those could include additional vacation days, one-time bonuses, or flexible work hours.

When to let go

Occasionally, you’ll reach a point where retention isn’t in the best interest of either party.

“The employee should always seek to find the best fit for their skill set, whether it’s with their existing employer or elsewhere,” said Doctor. “And it’s also in the best interest of the employer to ensure employees are in the right position.”  

If an employee decides to move on, employers can positively influence that process too. Doctor recommends offering outplacement assistance, including helping employees with resume preparation and connecting them to job listing services.

Steiner suggests writing a letter of recommendation as well. “Helping an employee find a job that matches their new skills is a win-win,” he said. “It would be detrimental to keep an employee who is ready to move to the next level.”

Steph Weber is a freelance writer hailing from the Midwest. She writes about healthcare, finance, and small business, but finds her passion for the medical field growing in sync with the ever-changing healthcare laws.