Whether you call it the great resignation, pandemic burnout, or the great discontent, the medical profession is not immune to the rising wave of employee turnover that’s currently shaking up organizations across industries. In fact, the churn rate for staff nurses has grown by nearly 3% to just under 19%, costing hospitals between roughly $4 million to $6.5 million annually. Among physicians, 69% report feeling disengaged and 54% say they’re planning to leave their current employer, with each physician lost adding up to an additional $250,00 in new recruitment costs each year.
This should come as no surprise, given that healthcare professionals have long had among the highest stress jobs of any sector, even since before the start of the pandemic.
With so many healthcare workers thinking about leaving or having already given notice, savvy leaders are doing more than taking notice, they’re taking action to address this rapidly escalating employment crisis right within their own organizations — by solving their most pressing employee experience challenges — using a two-pronged approach.
One, they’re listening to their people. Really listening. To everyone. And two, they’re taking things a step further by figuring out what it is that their team members need to have the sense of belonging, connectedness, and community that they crave.
Listening When it Matters
If there’s no vehicle for workers to share their experience or no sense of trust that anything will be done if they do speak up, any potential feelings of stress will only continue to build over time.
And, that’s not for a lack of problem-solving among employees within the field of medicine. If given the chance to speak up and share their ideas, they’ll have more than enough suggestions to offer up. Walk up to any group of nurses and ask them about broken processes and you can sit there for hours discussing what isn’t working.
The challenge is, for medical professionals who are showing up every day looking to provide the best care they can, they want what’s broken to be resolved so they can deliver a superior patient experience. When circumstances are less than optimal, frustration levels soar and that’s precisely what’s leading to the burnout and churn that we’re seeing raging across healthcare right now.
Technology, however, can play a critical role in solving this very problem. When organizations leverage all of the tools at their disposal to ask their employees the right questions in the right moments, they can understand how their people feel at any given time.
The simple act of keeping an ongoing pulse to detect signs of burnout, checking in on an ongoing basis with well-timed questions, and responding with next steps based directly on feedback gathered can signal to employees that leaders are aware of what’s important to workers and that understanding and addressing points of friction across the overall employee journey are top priorities.
Within the healthcare sector in particular, demonstrating empathy and responsiveness in this way is so critical. When you think of the nature of what providers do on a daily basis, nowhere else is feeling heard and being seen as important. When we listen and understand the experience of our employees and are able to drive higher employee engagement and satisfaction ratings, we can see the payoff in the form of higher reports of patient satisfaction and financial outcomes.
With all of that being the case, still, the healthcare industry really lags behind other sectors when it comes to modernizing their employee listening programs and employee insights strategies.
The future of employer responsiveness within healthcare takes going beyond conducting traditional rounds and annual provider satisfaction surveys. It takes checking in with employees on a real-time basis with two-way digital surveys and operational data. It requires gathering more than sentiment and moving toward collecting actionable feedback that digs into how to specifically solve the toughest challenges your employees are up against.
Data-savvy employers are gathering feedback and signals from their people across the entire employee journey, from the early stages of recruiting and onboarding to subsequent milestones across the employee lifetime, such as during annual reviews, at times of leadership change, and more. They’re not just relying on surveys, they’re gathering input from employees wherever they are engaging, whether that’s via video, text, or leveraging crowdsourcing. And they’re bringing together siloed systems to merge operational data and experiential to gain a line of sight into the overall employees’ experience.
It’s when organizations bring these data sources together, pairing direct feedback (like surveys) along with indirect signals (like PTO usage, department changes, performance reviews, and patient feedback) that they can begin to be predictive. Using AI-powered technology, they’re able to pinpoint patterns and identify when and why people are churning. From there, they’re able to implement solutions that can help retain top talent and save on turnover, recruiting, and onboarding costs.
These AI-powered tools can be used to detect a range of threats, whether that’s signs of turnover, potential factors influencing serious safety events, or other key business outcomes.
Creating the Sense of Belonging, Connectedness, and Community Healthcare Professionals Crave
The number one step employers need to take to create a sense of community for their team is to not simply capture employee insights. It’s what leaders do next that matters the most. That is, how they respond.
Within large-scale organizations, the best way to ensure your people feel connected, loyal to your organization, and engaged with the mission is to ensure they feel heard and can see evidence that actionable — and timely — next steps are being taken to address their toughest challenges.
With an eye toward advancing diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging, employers need to prioritize equitable listening and action — that is continuous employee listening and response initiatives that address the voices of the entire organization to create more equitable employee experiences.
For too long the status quo has remained unchanged, with leadership only gathering employee feedback on an annual basis at best, asking employees to fill out the kind of lengthy questionnaire that, when it comes down to it, reflects more on the optics of leadership and the organization as a whole than shedding light on employee needs and wants. At the end of the day, these efforts do nothing to help the ongoing problem of employee burnout and turnover.
Without tuning into the entire employee journey — and all of the pressing points of friction along the way — employers simply won’t be able to address our industry’s greatest employee experience failings. Burnout won’t go away, and neither will related recruitment costs.
Today’s healthcare leaders have all the tools they need. By using real-time feedback capture, merging your data sources, and using AI to analyze the full picture, you have the power to understand what it is your employees are trying to tell you, what they want you to solve, and how to help them feel committed, connected, and ready to keep serving your patients while maximizing the best of their abilities.
About Kristi Roe
Kristi Roe is the Head of Healthcare Experience at Medallia. Kristi’s experience in healthcare spans over 20 years and she has been at the forefront of the experience movement evolution. Kristi started in patient experience at Atrium Health in 2010 just as HCAHPS was implemented and led the patient experience team. At Press Ganey, she was a leader of the Strategic Consulting division and partnered with leading healthcare organizations transitioning them from tactical approaches to development and implementation of systemic experience strategy. Kristi was Vice President of Organizational Resiliency at Novant Health where she focused on understanding and improving the experience of caregivers as it relates to burnout and emotional exhaustion. Foundationally, Kristi’s work centers around intentionally creating resilient and high-performing systems on a foundation of meaningful and actionable insights.