Say these words if staff tell you they're leaving

When your most skilled, compassionate, experienced staff person tells you she's leaving, don't let the first words out of your mouth be, "That will be a disaster for you!" or "You're making a huge mistake!"

Terry Hancock, CAM, a patient access manager at Northern Hospital of Surry County in Mount Airy, NC, says that trying too hard to convince your access employee to stay can backfire. He or she may truly believe a better opportunity is out there. "If you have a good relationship with your employees, they trust that you have their best interests at heart. You want them to do what is right for them," says Hancock. "I'd never want to stand in the way of an employee bettering themselves."

Recently, an employee was about to accept another job in the hospital because she believed it was a step up for her. "I knew she would not be as happy in the new role, and I also hated to lose her," says Hancock. "I had a heart-to-heart conversation with her about my feelings and perceptions, and the pros and cons as I saw them. I let her know that her role in patient access wasn't a dead end, and that I was working to create a new role that she could be promoted to. It had to be her choice. She stayed."

Instead of strong-arming your employee, simply ask him or her to carefully consider the decision to leave the department. The facts may wind up speaking for themselves.

"We have had situations when physician offices have tried to recruit our employees. They usually have an advantage by offering a higher hourly rate," says Brad Davenport, director of patient access at The University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

It may be that your access employees are only considering their hourly pay rate when comparing jobs. Their net pay may actually be less, when they consider all of the benefits they receive.

UT Medical Center's human resources department has prepared a document called "What to Think About" if an employee is considering other employment. Davenport encourages his employees to talk with the HR representatives if they are considering leaving the hospital system, so they will have a clear understanding about their benefits, retirement, and vesting."There have been a couple of cases where the difference in insurance premiums alone was more than the increase in the hourly pay they were being offered," he says.

In any case, always try to find out the underlying reasons a person wants to leave. "Most often, we are told for better pay, better hours, or more opportunity for advancement," says Davenport. "I occasionally conduct exit interviews and most always learn there are other reasons. If it's a good employee and I feel they are leaving for the wrong reasons, I ask them to reconsider."