By Stephen W. Earnhart, MS
Earnhart & Associates
I enjoy writing about issues that affect all of us in the surgery industry, from freestanding ambulatory surgery centers to hospital-based to office-based.
One area that we all have issues with is employees. Employees are expensive. Not just in dollars, but in your facility image and patient and surgeon satisfaction. Nothing irritates surgeons more than walking into the OR and seeing new faces. The new staff member is eager to please and probably well-trained, but still, there is a learning curve. It’s an unwanted distraction.
I am always suspicious of managers and administrators who have high or even moderate staff turnover. I know that productivity is going to suffer as a result of losing any employee. Clearly, there usually are good reasons why a staff member might leave. However, losing a valuable member of your staff is a loss for all.
So, how can you prevent the drain?
I did a survey several years ago on why staff members left facilities. Granted, the survey is now dated, but the results still are valuable. Of 28 individuals who left employment at 15 facilities over a one-year period, here were the reasons, which I believe were honest.
The study was more than just the below, but these are the end results:
- 7% left because they were offered more money at another facility;
- 11% left because of a personality conflict with other staff;
- 14% left due to a physical move out of the area;
- 68% left because they were unhappy and wanted new challenges.
Not much could be done about the money issue and moving out of town, but 79% could have been saved!
How? Here are some ways it can be prevented:
- Set clear expectations of staff members, both long- and short-term.
- Have frequent staff meetings that include all members.
- Show each employee how they can “shine” in the workplace (such as reduce waste, shorten turnover time, etc.).
- Give your staff the tools to be successful.
- A clunky computer that crashes all the time makes it difficult to do QA and risk management assessments. Update your equipment. Hardware is cheap today!
- Do a one-on-one talk with everyone at least once a month. If you are the employee, ask your manager for a 10-minute evaluation of your job performance. If you are a manager, this request can be a sign to you that someone is not confident of his or her performance or just needs some positive reinforcement.
- Share the success of your work. If you are hospital-based and cannot give individual bonuses, at least acknowledge individuals in your now frequent staff meetings. If you are “for-profit,” share the money! While money itself is not always the motivator, the recognition that a bonus gives will far outweigh the cost in retaining staff.
- Give praise for a job well done and suggestions for when it doesn’t go so well.
- Overall, in my experience, people want to be successful and please. Let them. Never underestimate the positive impact of a smile to someone you work with, for, or under. High fives are out, but smiles are in!
- Never steal someone’s thunder. Acknowledge others’ suggestions as their own, and be vocal about it at meetings.
- Lastly, follow your gut. If you sense another staff member or employee is unhappy, seek out him or her and talk about it. I think we all have a sixth sense about spotting unhappiness.
Will the above 10 points help? Yes. Maybe not all of them for everyone, but certainly some of them for some. [Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Earnhart & Associates can be reached at 5114 Balcones Woods Drive, Suite 307-203, Austin, TX 78759. Phone: (512) 297-7575. Fax: (512) 233-2979. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.earnhart.com.]