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The real reasons hospital employees leave their jobs

Research firm shares advice about how healthcare organizations can curb turnover.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Hospitals and organizations in all industries struggle with employee retention and turnover, and it can be especially difficult to understand the reasons why employees leave. A new survey by research firm SMD pinpointed three of those.

SMD examined data across more than 200 hospitals, 1,000 care centers, and 100 long-term care facilities, with a total of nearly 500,000 employees participating -- and found that the strongest and most consistent drivers of voluntary turnover were senior leadership, job fit, and management.

[Also: Hospital employment jumps nearly 2 percent with physicians, surgeons driving uptick]

The firm said because these three factors can drive clinical outcomes and the bottom line, it is important to ensure leaders understand fully how their employees view each of them.

Many aspects regarding top level leadership influence how they are perceived, for instance. They must be visible and convey the organization's goals and mission in ways that instill confidence in their leadership and establish a feeling among employees that executives care about and value their contributions.

[Also: 4 in 10 healthcare professionals work when they're sick, risking patients]

"Senior leaders must be prepared to help front-line managers address any employee concerns pertaining to senior leadership. This can be by providing candid, transparent information directly to staff whether by email, town halls, webinars, or rounding," SMD said. "In addition, managers can impact Senior Leader perceptions by sharing information in a timely manner, ensuring messages are accurately and completely conveyed to staff, and inviting more senior leaders to staff meetings to discuss employee concerns and feedback."

Job Fit refers to whether employees are in a role that they enjoy, that their skills and abilities are being utilized effectively, and that they have enjoyable challenges at work. Managers hoping to positively impact this area of an employee's job life should ensure they understand the worker's current skill level, offer appropriate challenges or new responsibilities, and by ensuring the employees hired are well-suited for the role.     

Finally, managers can start by understanding their employee needs, and ensuring that they get valuable performance recognition and regular feedback, not just the usual performance evaluations. They should touch base with staff often and let them know they value their input and are genuinely concerned about them. Managers should also make the workplace one where the staff feels comfortable providing feedback and suggestions on the organization.

"It is important to validate drivers in your own organization," the firm said. "While these areas may come up, other nuanced drivers may be found in other organizations depending on the organizational culture and employee makeup."

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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