Can the Healthcare Industry Ever Eliminate Churn?

Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) data makes make it clear that healthcare hiring will grow faster than hiring in any other sector through the end of the decade. Millions of jobs will be added between now and then. But what good does it do to create more positions if organizations cannot fill them? Considering this conundrum leads to an inevitable question: can the healthcare industry ever eliminate churn?

A 2021 piece published by Columbia Southern University cited statistics showing an 89% churn rate among healthcare facilities between 2015 and 2019. For the record, this represents a total churn rather than an annual rate. Still, turning over nearly your entire workforce during a four-year span is not good.

Churn is bad in any industry. It is especially problematic in healthcare because you are dealing with lives. Churn leads to a lower quality of care. It leads to burnt-out doctors and nurses. Churn even makes for frustrated administrators who don’t know what to do other than throw more money at the problem.

Satisfied Employees Don’t Leave

So how does healthcare stop the churn? It starts with figuring out why employees are unsatisfied and then responding accordingly. You do this with the understanding that satisfied employees do not leave.

Unfortunately, the temptation is to assume that money is always the solution. Pay healthcare workers more; give them better benefits; pay for their uniforms. The thinking here is that employees are dissatisfied because you are not giving them enough stuff. But in reality, this is not the case at all.

Columbia Southern also cited data demonstrating that the vast majority of healthcare workers who leave their jobs do so because they are burned out, they don’t feel as though their employers value them, they want more flexibility, or they are simply looking for career change. It all boils down to this: healthcare workers no longer like their jobs. Money is not going to fix that.

Change the Culture

Once an employer finds out why employees are unhappy, the next step is to change the organization’s culture. If the current culture demands employees put in 50 to 60 hours per week, it is probably a safe bet that getting work weeks down to 40 hours would go a long way. If employees feel like the organization is understaffed, it probably is. Getting them some help is an appropriate response.

Of course, changing the culture often means accepting lower profits as a result. This is the reality our corporate healthcare industry doesn’t want to face. But it is one they are going to have to face eventually if they cannot reduce churn.

Improve Recruiting and Onboarding

It would be interesting to know how many healthcare workers quit after discovering they are not a good fit for the jobs that they are in. Probably a lot. This particular issue could be addressed by working to improve both recruiting and onboarding. Where recruiting is concerned, medical marketing company iMedical Data says that qualified, first-person data is the way to go. That kind of data better matches employers with candidates to increase the chances that both get what they want.

In terms of onboarding, the first few weeks is critical for any new employee. Go out of your way to take care of them and make them feel comfortable during that time, and they are more likely to be loyal over the long term. Throw them into the fire to fend for themselves and you set yourself up for churn right from the start.

Churn is a big problem in healthcare. It is not going to go away until organizations change how they do things.