Retaining experienced staff should be a focus of every case management department, says Tina Wiseman, MEd, chief administrative officer of Novia Solutions. “When people leave, you lose a lot of knowledge,” Wiseman says.

The secret to keeping experienced staff on the job is to make them feel appreciated and give them the tools they need to be successful, according to long-time case managers.

A truly successful case manager doesn’t see the position as a job. They see it as a passion, and the reward is more than just a paycheck — it’s his or her successes, says BK Kizziar, RN-BC, CCM, owner of BK & Associates.

“Case managers’ job satisfaction is based on recognition of their successes as well as their salary, and when the staff feels satisfied there’s little attrition. It’s important for the case management department and the hospital to recognize the contributions of case managers — as a department and as individuals,” she says.

She recommends that administrators round with case managers periodically to understand the role and to acknowledge the contribution of case management. “When the administration views case management as an important role that contributes to the success of the institution, it makes case managers feel appreciated,” she says.

The key to retaining staff is to be fair and consistent and make sure that case managers receive up-to-date education on anything that affects their jobs, says Peggy Rossi, BSN, MPA, CCM, ACMC-RN, CMAC. “They need to know about new resources in the community and new regulations from CMS when they are issued — and not six months later,” she adds.

Listen to what staff is saying and act on it, Rossi says. “This way, they realize you’re looking out for them and they will have faith in you,” she adds.

Recognize case management successes in meetings, Kizziar says, and celebrate National Case Management Week on Oct. 8. “Very few hospitals recognize Case Management Week at the same level as weeks honoring nurses, but it’s important to recognize the value of case management on a hospitalwide basis,” Kizziar says.

If you want to know what case managers like and don’t like about their job, retention interviews are one way to find out, Wiseman points out.

“People value being able to give feedback. It gives them a sense of organizational trust when management wants to know what they could do better,” she says.

“A lot of places conduct exit interviews, but when people are leaving, it’s too late. Having a conversation with current staff is a good way to understand what is working and what it not working,” she adds.

Wiseman recommends one-on-one interviews to find out what staff members like and don’t like about their jobs. “They’re more effective than focus groups. People are more willing to open up as individuals than in a group setting,” she says.

If you or your staff are uncomfortable discussing problems directly, create a short survey online and ask the staff to take it anonymously. “This creates a sense of objectivity because participants aren’t speaking to someone who is their direct manager,” she says.

Pull together all the results from the interviews or surveys and look for trends, Wiseman suggests.

Retention interviews have a two-fold advantage, Wiseman says. “They help case management leaders understand what is working and what isn’t working, and make changes to keep people on the job. It also gives you information to leverage during the hiring process,” she says.