In Healthcare, Productivity Starts With Recruiting

Healthcare organizations across the board could benefit from better hiring practices, but these improvements are especially important for smaller healthcare institutions. These medical practices can't afford to lose money to inefficient hiring or lost productivity.

When it comes to medical practices, evaluating productivity and turnover is key to reducing spending and maximizing the quality of care.

Lost Productivity Comes With Big Costs

According to an article in Workforce, U.S. employers lose about $576 billion annually to poor employee health and related productivity losses.

Charles Fox, former executive director and current president of the Disability Management Employer Coalition, told Workforce that companies must recognize the problem before something can be done.

"There are so many pieces of the puzzle that very few companies have a really good handle on what the actual total costs to the organization are due to absence in the workplace with all those categories of time off," Fox said. "However, I think that intuitively they all know that it is significant, and it is a humongous number."

The healthcare sector is no different. Hospitals and clinics have a responsibility to offer the best possible care to their patients, and absent workers make this a difficult feat to achieve. Productivity and engagement are important in any sector, but they may be even more critical in healthcare: Low productivity and engagement levels lead to lower quality care for patients.

Unengaged Nurses Leads to Higher Turnover

Turnover is also a big problem in the healthcare workforce, and it can largely be attributed to lack of engagement. It's also important to note that nurses have more options today than they did just a few years ago, when the economy was struggling.

When nurses are unengaged in their work, they tend to seek fulfillment elsewhere. According to Compdata Surveys, the average total turnover rate for healthcare employees was 19.2 percent in 2015. According to a report from NSI Nursing Solutions, the average cost of RN turnover at a hospital ranges from $37,700 to $58,400.

In a press release regarding the Compdata Survey, Compdata Vice President Amy Kaminski said, "Employers are reporting rising voluntary turnover rates, indicating the workforce has increasing confidence in the job market. Your key employees have options when it comes to where they want to work. Understanding turnover trends allows you to put programs into place for retaining your quality employees, as well develop a solid plan for recruiting new ones."

Rising turnover rates have grave consequences for hospitals and clinics. Replacing employees is expensive, and it's hard to fabricate the engagement you need for quality care in the medical sector.

Use Recruiting to Bring Productivity and Engagement Back Into Medical Care

When it comes to reducing employee turnover and increasing engagement, the recruiting process is vital.

"Increasing productivity is a survival skill in healthcare today," writes healthcare futurist Joe Flower in a post for Hospitals Health Networks. "We will not find the huge increases in productivity that we need by doing what we do now and just doing it incrementally more efficiently."

Adjusting your recruiting process will positively affect your bottom line, the quality of your medical practice, and the health of your workers. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Make Recruiting a Team Sport

It may be the HR and/or recruiting team's responsibility to find and welcome new hires, but that doesn't mean you can't include other people in the process.

For example, it can be very beneficial to learn about the strengths and weaknesses in your recruiting process by talking to those who went through it. You can also use effective team members to guide your recruiting process. Look at the traits your best employees have, and then look for similar traits in potential hires.

Asking for advice from your top-performing workers and executives is also recommended. In the recruiting process, multiple trusted opinions can be invaluable when looking for the right employees.

2. Track the Causes of Poor Productivity

Understanding what causes poor productivity can help you determine what to look for in new employees. These causes will vary from place to place, and you should make special considerations for the causes you discover at your workplace.

For example, some nurses who are not used to night shifts can suffer from insomnia as a result. Lack of sleep significantly affects productivity and engagement, lowering the quality of your workforce and spurring turnover. If this is a cause of lost productivity in your office, you should look to recruit people who have excelled at working night shifts in the past.

3. Make Objective Hiring Decisions

It is very important to remove personal feelings from the hiring process. Base your hiring decisions strictly on facts. In the healthcare sector, you can gather a lot of objective information about potential hires through school records, instructor commendations, residency stats, and references. Each of these resources will tell you about a candidate's work ethic and their ability to offer quality care.

If someone has a glowing record, that's often the best sign they will be a productive and engaged worker.

Anna Johansson is the founder and CEO of Johansson Consulting. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.