2011 Salary Survey Results

Faced with flat and decreasing salaries, look for other ways to recruit and retain

With outpatient surgery salaries flat across much of much of the nation, outpatient surgery managers are finding that they need to enticing benefits and a positive work culture to recruit and retain staff.

The 2011 Salary Survey results indicated that 26.5% of respondents received no increase in salary, and 6.1% received a decrease. These figures compare with 38.1% receiving no increase in salary in 2010, and 3.2% receiving a decrease that year. (See graphics: "In the Last Year, How Has Your Salary Changed," below, and "What is Your Annual Gross Income From your Primary Healthcare Position, below.) Same-Day Surgery sent the 2011 Salary Survey to 480 subscribers with the September 2011 issue. Fifty subscribers responded, for a response rate of 10.4%.

So what can you do when you can't hand your employees a nice, big raise? You could consider additional ways for employees to earn money. At WellStar Health System in Marietta, GA, named one of best the 100 best places to work in the country by Working Mother magazine, nurses earn additional money as they advance up the clinical or management track or by becoming board certified in a specialty. Additionally, WellStar offers bonus performance pay plan for all employees tied to organizational performance, says Karen Mathews, CWLP, director of work life services.

Also, WellStar employees are allowed tuition reimbursement for graduate degree assistance, as well as undergraduate degree courses and high school diplomas/GED. Even part-time employees can be eligible. (To see how your degree lines up with your peers, see graphic, "What is your highest degree?" below.)

The Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX, named to Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list six years in a row, offers a generous tuition reimbursement program. Another bonus? Flexible work schedules that employees can fit around their classes, says Janet Gilmore, MSN, RN, interim vice-president of perioperative services.

WellStar offers a FlexWorks program and policy. More than 75% of the workforce uses flexible work such as job shares, daily flexing, remote self-scheduling, compressed work weeks, and part-time and full-time teleworking. And the perks don't stop there. "Benefits-eligible employees have a bank of 80 hours a year for back up care for a child elderly relative anywhere in the country," Mathews says. "Cost to the employee is only $2 an hour for center-based care and $4 an hour for at-home care." The system allows has a full concierge services program free to employees to run errands, complete car maintenance, pick up dry cleaning, and more. Methodist Hospital offers referral services for vendors to perform personal services such as roofing and painting, even in other cities where employees might own property. "They can do a lot of legwork for you and let you be the nurse," Gilmore says.

What's as important as salary and benefits?

There are some things that are at least as important as salary and benefits, according to sources interviewed by Same-Day Surgery. One of those, they say, is workplace culture.

Methodist Hospital offers a research institute with a large laboratory where nurses can practice skills, such as robotic surgery. Other state-of-the-art equipment includes vein finder for starting IVs and blotter scanners for determining if patients need to be catheterized. "We have lots of bells and whistles to help us in our practice," Gilmore says.

Methodist was voted no. 10 on the Fortune list for work-life balance. The benefit include a wellness program with a state-of-the- art gym; programs for stress reduction, weight loss, and tobacco cessation; and reduced fees for on-site massage therapists. Additionally, the hospital holds parties to mark national awards such as the Fortune designation and achieving magnet designation, which the hospital just achieved for the third time. "We're celebrating successes," Gilmore says.

WellStar uses intentional strategies to focus on the work culture. "We conduct team engagement action planning sessions regularly," Mathews says. Every leader is expected to develop relationships with their team and team members, she says. "Know what they are thinking, Mathews suggests. "Ask their opinions," she says. Offer them responsibility, and then empower them so they can success, Mathews says. "Have their back," she says. "Celebrate them often, and never take them for granted."

It's critical to build a culture of trust and engagement, Mathews says. "Team members in healthcare work long and often stressful hours," she says. They need to know "they are valued, their opinions count, that someone cares about them as a person, and that their life is more than their job," Mathews says. "When team members experience compassionate care, understanding, and professional support, they extend it to their patients." (For more results of the salary, see these graphics:below, "Where is your facility located?" below, " What is your current title?" below, " What is your age?")

Chart 1

Chart 2

Chart 3

Chart 4

Chart 5

Chart 6