By Christina Proctor, RN.
You’ve invested a significant amount of time and resources in the recruitment and orientation process of some very talented staff. What will help in retaining this talent in a competitive market? Here are some tips to ensure that the exceptional staff you have acquired will go on to become long term members of your agency or organization. We will also highlight some repercussions of falling short on implementing these important strategies.
When supervisors and managers are truly approachable, it will allow concerns to be voiced before they escalate. It will contribute to a sense of everyone being on the same team, supporting each other in different roles, and will help break down the “us” versus “them” mentality between staff and management.
Being visible and interacting with staff is crucial for a manager to be viewed as someone that can be talked to. I remember one supervisor at a home health agency where I worked for many years. She would come out of her cube into the common area while I was in the office finishing my documentation, apparently for the sole purpose of chit-chatting. She would sometimes sit in that area doing her work also. Being present in this way, even for short periods of time helped me feel comfortable poking my head in her cube when I had a question or needed to vent about something. The DPCS and other supervisors were the same way, and that really contributed to the sense that we were all working together.
Be Proactive with Communication
Ensure that supervisors regularly check in with their staff on an individual basis. This will provide an outlet for discussing concerns or problems that will inevitably arise. Weekly patient update meetings provide an ideal setting for a consistent time to communicate. Ask how things are going. There may be some situations that cannot be changed, but just being allowed to give voice to these can be enough to help your valuable staff members to put difficult situations into perspective, and will assist them in handling these situations successfully.
Give specific commendation. Point out how organized your staff member is, or how their hard work in precepting is paying off, or how their kind way of caring for patients is so appreciated. Noticing specific things conveys the thought You are an individual, and we appreciate the effort and skills that you have.
When staff believe that they are being compensated fairly for their work, they will feel like valued members of your organization, and this will contribute to a sense of commitment. Are pay rates competitive and work loads comparable to similar organizations? Are there opportunities for advancement? Are performance reviews and pay raises being assessed regularly?
Ali, a healthcare professional who has spent the last 20 years in her current clinical setting shares the following insights:
“I feel that my work is valued and recognized. Performance reviews single out strengths and show what makes me valuable to the team. They show where I fit in. Feeling like I can be heard is also important, even if its just to be listened to. I also feel that my supervisor knows how to reciprocate for the effort I put into my work.”
When the Above Strategies are Lacking
When channels for regular communication are lacking, issues that could be expressed while still relatively small can escalate. These issues can then contribute to discontent, resentment, and finally to your valued staff member looking for another job. And if working conditions are not fair, staff will not feel that their value is appreciated.
While “Thank you for all you do.” and “I’m appreciated” keychains are good, when you highlight the unique aspects of what makes an exceptional staff member who they are, they are more likely to feel content and have a sense of personal commitment to your organization.
By communicating regularly and individually with your clinical staff, making sure management is approachable and working conditions are fair, you can increase retention of top notch staff and contribute to the further success of your organization.