No business owner wants to deal with employee turnover. Studies have demonstrated that replacing departing staff members can be expensive and time-consuming, and intuition holds that a high number of people leaving can be bad for morale.
But in an environment such as a hospital, clinic or other healthcare facility, high employee turnover can have particularly unwanted results. Employees at these facilities have an extra duty of care to look after the well-being of patients that isn't present in other industries. That's why it's important for healthcare administrators to have a clear understanding of how just high turnover rates can hurt not just daily operation, but quality of care too.
Is turnover a problem?
It's expected in any industry that employees are going to come and go. In fact, turnover is becoming a fact of corporate life as the millennials - statistically the most professionally restless generation - takes to the workforce. But is the situation any different in the healthcare world? According to Pegged Software, high turnover has been a reality of the medical world for a while. There are many reasons why this can be problematic not just for patients but for administrators as well.
As with any case of turnover, there are direct costs associated with an employee leaving. The most straightforward of these expenses relates to recruiting, interviewing, hiring and onboarding new staff members to fill the gaps left by the old ones. Unfortunately, this is far from an easy process, as it can sometimes take up to six weeks to fill vacant positions, Pegged Software reported. This is especially true with the growing demand for health care providers in the U.S.
And while the search for a new doctor or nurse is being conducted, employers must pick up the slack somehow, especially in a hospital or other acute care clinic. This means that companies must also be prepared to pay overtime, or even hire on temporary labor until the position is filled.
Of course, the blows to a clinic's checkbook as well as its quality of care extend beyond immediate lost revenue. Some of the effects of high turnover can be difficult to quantify, but no less significant - and in some cases even more important. For example, morale can often take a hit when turnover is high, especially if remaining employees are left to pick up the extra work. This can lead to lower job satisfaction, increased absenteeism and, you guessed it, additional turnover.
From a care perspective, fewer clinicians working with patients means that each individual is getting less one-on-one time with doctors and nurses. This simple fact of mathematics can create significant issues when it comes to care quality, and may even affect patient health.
Trickling down to patients
As noted above, it's not just the facility itself that feels the crunch when turnover is high. Pegged Software indicated that there is a direct correlation between turnover and patient satisfaction. High levels of nurse dissatisfaction, for example, can correspond directly to fewer recommendations for the given hospital, which can result in even more lost revenue.
Another side effect of fewer employees and potentially compromised care is that employees may often have to stay in the hospital for longer than they would if the institution were fully staffed. This not only impedes the quality of life that health care practitioners strive to foster, but it can also be expensive for both the patient, who must foot the bill for the longer stay, and the facility, which has to cover the cost of the additional resources.