Home Health & Hospice

Q: We are currently struggling with a staff retention problem and it's getting costly. What are some ways we can retain our staff members?

Homecare Insider, April 22, 2013


Q: We are currently struggling with a staff retention problem and it’s getting costly. What are some ways we can retain our staff members?

A: Bringing in new staff members can be very expensive. Every step of hiring a new member of the homecare team can cost the agency money. Just taking out a newspaper ad for a nurse can cost an agency several hundred dollars; then, once the agency hires someone, a substantial amount of money goes into that staff member’s orientation. Since this process is so expensive and time-consuming, it is important to make sure you are focused on retaining your staff so your agency doesn’t have to repeat the process in the near future.

Cost savings is not the only benefit of a happy staff. If an agency has high staff retention rates, quality will improve, and clinicians will be more knowledgeable about the agency and the physicians it works with.

There are many things you can do as a part of the management team that can make this possible and cost little or no money:
  • Create a positive environment. Celebrate birthdays, engagements, pregnancies, and other important events. Showing your team that you are interested in them on a personal level can make the work environment a comfortable place to be. Implementing humor and positivity into the daily workload can make staff look forward to their day and not dread it.
  • Praise their success. When staff members do a good job, make sure they know it. Positive reinforcement should be frequent. By letting staff members know when they excel, they will know that management has been paying attention to their work performance and values their contribution to the agency.
  •  Involve staff in decision-making. Many times staff members leave because they feel management doesn’t understand their needs. Involving staff members, perhaps a representative from each discipline, in decision-making enforces the idea that all opinions and ideas are appreciated. This allows the agency to work as a team.
  • Open the lines of communication. If an employee seems to be unhappy, it is important that you recognize the issue and approach the employee. Often it is possible to discuss why he or she is unhappy and amend the problem. This should be a working effort from management to clinicians. If the person is a valuable member of the team—for example, a great nurse who has a poor attitude—solving the issue and retaining the employee would be beneficial to the agency for numerous reasons. That said, never keep a staff member solely to avoid recruitment. Sometimes a bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.

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