iStock_000028244358SmallQuality of patient care is almost entirely dependent on the efforts of the hospital staff. In the healthcare industry, employee satisfaction is crucial due to the direct correlation between employees’ happiness and patients’ happiness.  Recruiting and retaining top healthcare talent is the key to quality care and high patient satisfaction scores. Here are four suggested “do’s and don’ts” to increase your chances of recruiting and retaining top healthcare talent:

1. Do listen to your candidates.  Analyze every word they say.  

As you start to communicate with a prospective candidate be sure to follow every verbal and written clue that might suggest what REALLY matters to this person. Did an RN candidate casually mention that she was interested in getting her BSN? Well, that would be a perfect opportunity for you to mention that your organization has partnered with a local college and offers tuition reimbursement to assist their nurses in completing their BSN degree. Did a candidate say that their child attends daycare in a neighboring town? Be sure to tell them your organization offers onsite daycare for hospital employees.  Test the waters to see what hot buttons are important to this person; just be sure to focus on your organization’s strengths!  Areas to probe into could be your competitive compensation and benefits, impressive workplace perks, expansive professional development opportunities, or the potential for career advancement. Here’s why: LinkedIn’s Talent Trends 2014 reports that when people were asked “What are the top three motivators driving you to look for a new job?” they said, better compensation and benefits, more learning and professional development opportunities, and better opportunities for career advancement.

 2. Do focus on your organization’s reputation.  Give prospects something be excited about!

Prospective candidates are highly influenced by your organization’s accomplishments and reputation. In fact, 60% of people say that the MOST important attribute of a company when considering a new job is their “reputation as a great place to work.”  On the other hand, only 4% said that the “reputation for being prestigious” was the most important attribute. Of course, this doesn’t  mean that candidates aren’t going to be impressed with your high HCAHPS scores, your ANCC Magnet Recognition, or the fact that your hospital ranks as one of U.S. News & World Report’s ‘Best Hospitals.’ As a matter of fact, these clinical and service excellence-related accomplishments could contribute to the appeal of being a “great place to work.” Through talking  to several ‘Best Place to Work’ organizations such as Southern Ohio Medical Center and Beaumont Health System, we learned that their employees are passionate about what they do, are highly engaged in their work, and enjoy working with their peers—contributing to better clinical outcomes and higher levels of patient satisfaction.  So, how do you achieve the reputation of becoming a great place to work? It all starts with you. Yes, YOU, healthcare HR professional!  Human Resources is responsible for  recruiting individuals who fit with the organizational culture and values and then ensuring that they perform well  and adhere to these values once they’re on the job.

3. Don’t forget about your current employees. Keep them happy!

Often times, healthcare organizations have an overwhelming number of open positions that need to be filled as quickly as possible to provide high quality patient care, maintain compliant staffing levels, and avoid excessive amounts of overtime spend. In a situation such as this, there may be executive pressure on the HR team to focus on bringing in top talent and to concentrate on difficult-to-fill positions that that they may become complacent about their current employees.  Once employees who fit the culture and have the skills are onboard, you HAVE to keep them happy.  “Great employees want to work with other great people.  Relationships are what make people stay at SOMC,” says Vicki Noel, Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development.  As a department, HR needs to recognize that your employees always have to come first.  To improve employee satisfaction and retention, consider rolling out organization-wide initiatives to support your employees.  Performance management practices can help to reinforce your culture by recognizing strong performers and encouraging positive turnover of low performers.  Consider setting goals for staff to work towards and provide them with consistent feedback of their progress in a performance management system.  When employees behave in ways that exemplify the organizational culture, be sure to acknowledge their efforts and celebrate their successes.   By recognizing people who are consistently high performers, you are reinforcing their positive behaviors and encouraging their peers to emulate those positive actions should they seek the same recognition.

4. Don’t underestimate the importance of education. Offer more than what’s required for compliance.

Educational opportunities help employees advance professionally and strengthen the organization as a whole by developing talent from within.  Healthcare organizations need to have a “grow our own” philosophy. If you want the best talent, and the best patient outcomes; you absolutely HAVE to invest in employee education and professional development. By offering educational opportunities that go beyond the minimum needed for compliance, you are showing your employees that you care; about them AND your patients. You are demonstrating that you value their individual professional development.  You want to help them grow. You want to see them succeed.  You are willing to invest in their future. You want to provide high quality patient care. You want to attain clinical excellence.  To make training more convenient for your employees, consider investing in a learning management system so that courses can be completed 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.  Healthcare organizations should also consider offering courses that are eligible for continuing education credits to further support their staff’s professional development.  Founder and Chairman of The Virgin Group, Richard Branson might just say it best, “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.  If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.” Remember, happy employees = happy patients!

Do you want to learn more about how ‘Best Place to Work’ healthcare organizations are recruiting and retaining their top talent? Download our white paper, Becoming a Best Place to Work Organization: Recruiting & Retention Strategies for Healthcare to learn best practices from Beaumont Health System, Berkshire Health System, ABM Healthcare Support Services, Lakewood Health System, Southern Ohio Medical Center, and UnityPoint.  

About Meghan Doherty

Meghan Doherty is a content marketing professional based in the Greater Boston area. She has more than five years of experience creating and managing content for SaaS companies in the healthcare and talent management spaces.