Healthcare Job Hoppers - Why They Hop and How to Stop Them

August 15th, 2017 in  All
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Job-hoppers have taken over the healthcare workforce, and staff retention simply isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Gone are the days of healthcare employees staying in jobs for years on end. Millennials have watched their baby boomer parents become laid-off from “steady” jobs, and they no longer trust healthcare employers to keep them around for the long haul.

Why healthcare employees are becoming job-hoppers

It’s no wonder that healthcare employees are following suit and taking a page from the tech and business industries. It’s officially a job seeker’s market, and staffing practices need to adjust accordingly.

In September, 2016, Health eCareers released its annual Healthcare Salary Guide, which is based on a survey of nearly 20,000 healthcare professionals. The survey’s findings revealed staggering numbers.

  • 29% of healthcare professionals surveyed anticipate changing employers in the next year.
  • 30% of healthcare professionals surveyed have no plans to change employers in the next year.
  • 41% of healthcare professionals are unsure of whether they will change employers in the next year.

Clearly, healthcare turnover is on the rise, and it’s important to understand the factors playing into this trend.

1. Salary increase

One reason why many employees opt to leave a job is to pursue a higher income.

According to Cameron Keng of Forbes, staying at the same company for more than two years at a time will accrue to a loss of 50% of your income over the course of your career.

It’s no wonder that young employees jump ship for higher pay.

2. Better management

There’s the old saying that “people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.” While this has been argued a bit, I’m sure you can recall at least one time that you left - or contemplated leaving - a role because you felt stifled, undermined, micromanaged, or underutilized.

3. Burnout

Employees frequently leave jobs because they feel overwhelmed, unengaged, or otherwise burned out.

This adds up to feelings of hopelessness, which translate to - you guessed it - burnout.

4. Growth opportunities

For a burned out physical therapist at one hospital, there might be no opportunities to switch into a new setting or try out a non-clinical role. But in other facilities, savvy managers have realized that excellent employees have transferrable skills.

In the former hospitals, what happens when a healthcare professional burns out? They leave for another job. In those latter hospitals, the employee will stick around and ultimately contribute to the organization in new ways, pulling from past experiences to excel in the new role.

5. Better workplace culture

Culture is one of those words that’s difficult to define, but you know when a culture is good vs bad. And when a healthcare workplace culture is bad, it can make employees dread going to work each morning.

Luckily, companies like Glassdoor are pulling back the curtain on shady workplaces, and exposing unsavory practices that contribute to high turnover.

But the other edge to the sword is that high turnover is happening, and it’s very costly to employers.

But that’s not true. Some employees are truly in it for the long haul, and if you can get inside job seekers’ heads and understand what millennials are looking for in healthcare jobs, you can avoid some of the costs incurred with employee turnover.

These aren’t always easy problems to fix, but if you’ve got a problem with employee turnover, it’s worth looking at the big picture.

The true costs to hire a new healthcare employee

At first glance, the process and costs behind hiring an employee seem simple.

  1. Identify a need
  2. Post a job and pay fees for listing
  3. Interview candidates
  4. Make a decision
  5. On-board the employee

Each of these employment cost categories can be further broken down


Advertising a healthcare position online can cost anywhere from $0 to several thousands of dollars, depending on the type of position and practice location. It can be tempting to only use free avenues to list a job, but you'll inevitably limit your applicant pool that way.

Advertising helps a practice attract applicants for the position, by increasing exposure across the internet (it can be thought of as similar to advertising costs for new patients).

Interviewing, screening, and hiring applicants

Time is money (literally), and interviewing a candidate can take anywhere from 20 minutes (a phone interview) to several hours. This time, of course, is multiplied when there are several candidates to interview.

For this reason, prior to setting up an interview, it is important to know that you have an appropriate candidate that matches with your office’s needs.

Consider your candidates carefully, and ensure that they have the required skills and experience to perform the job.

Why waste time on candidates who have no chance of succeeding in your practice?

Once you take the time to interview your candidates, then decide that this candidate is right for the position, you must then screen the candidate. This will involve running background checks and contacting references.

Next, you’ll create the appropriate paperwork (employment contracts and employee manuals), and begin on-boarding and training.

On-boarding and training

On-boarding is the guided integration of your new employee into your unique practice. This step in the process is readily used by larger companies, but is sometimes overlooked by smaller practices.

Training an employee to understand the unique parts of your business is important for both short-term and long-term success. Not having a process for onboarding a new employee may be more costly than you think for several reasons.

  • The employee feels lost from day one. This creates an immediate defensive and inept feeling that may or may not disappear when the employee becomes more familiar with the job.
  • The employee may miss critical job or office information. If a new employee is not told about monthly staff meetings - or is not on the "company-wide email list" and misses the memo about a location change -it can cause confusion, frustration, or even anger. Feeling left out of the loop or embarrassed for missing a meeting that an employee was not told about can be a source of major job dissatisfaction very early in the job.
  • The employee might make mistakes that could be avoided. If you hire a new physical therapist and she tries to check in a patient in the same way that she did at her last office, only to realize that your clinic has a totally different system, it can ruin the patient flow and make the employee feel awkward for messing up in front of a patient.

Lost productivity

New employees are typically less productive than employees who have worked in your practice for years. The loss in productivity can be minimized by taking a proactive approach to the training process and providing unique office resources geared towards the success of your new hire.

Lost engagement and cultural impact

Employee turnover can decrease the morale of the whole team and affect the team’s ability to work to their full potential.

Avoiding turnover begins with hiring the right employee from the beginning. Job matching platforms such as Swipe and Anthology help to ensure the fit between employer and employee is right.

Niche human resource technologies, such as, can improve your ability to hire the right person efficiently, and provide on-boarding and training tools to help dramatically lower your turnover costs.

As it turns out, retention is likely your best bet

As much as employee turnover may seem inevitable, it can be mitigated by considering many factors along the way.

  • Hire for the position itself, as well as for a fit with your existing team. If you’re not sure what your team needs, ask them! It’s a surprisingly oft-missed step of the hiring process, and your team will almost always have important pearls of hiring wisdom that you never even considered for your next employee.
  • Improve your training and on-boarding processes. No matter how well-oiled a machine you think you have, things can always be improved. Frequently revisit your on-boarding materials. Seek feedback from your staff at least once per year. For each employee that is hired, ask him or her to provide honest feedback about the hiring, on-boarding, and training processes.
  • Provide incentives for employees to stick around. Entire articles have been written on this topic, but there’s a reason for this. Today’s employees - millennials in particular - are looking for more than a paycheck from their jobs. They want personal and professional growth, and if your place of employment isn’t providing true landmarks to indicate these two types of advancement, your employees will leave. And it will be at a high financial and emotional cost to your practice. Ask your employees what makes them have an excellent day at work. Identify the characteristics over which you have control, and do what you can to increase moments of recognition, leadership opportunities, or anything else your employees value.