Shortages of nursing professionals, certified direct care staff, and administrators in the healthcare industry have facilities attempting creative ways to retain the healthcare staff they do have. Referral bonuses for professionals who recommend the facility to other professionals who take positions are a new idea. It is clever because it is a win-win scenario. Staff are kept happy with bonuses, and the facility recruits new hires without a recruiting agency.
Benefits packages have been cut in most industries due to the rising costs of premiums. They are valuable to professionals and contribute immensely to the attractiveness of a total compensation package. It is actually less expensive to keep staff by offering benefits than it is to pay for overtime costs and temporary staffing to fill shifts.
One benefit in particular that benefits all the staff, professional and direct care, is an employee assistance program (EAP). The program consists of services such as support for addiction recovery, referrals for lawyers or counselors for staff and family members, and wellness programs to promote exercise, healthy weight, and overall wellness. Services are confidential and staff appreciate the access to help when it is needed.
Accommodating existing staff via flexible scheduling can improve retention as well. If a professional wishes to take a class, or have a specific evening off each week, granting the request will cut down on absenteeism and prevent that staff from seeking employment elsewhere. Split shifts may work better for working parents. It may not always be possible to accommodate everyone, but flexibility is a definite plus to employees.
When Vacancies Remain Open
There will be times that retention efforts may not be enough to maintain the staffing levels needed for compliance with regulations and staff to patient ratios. Instead of compromising patient care and facing fines or closure, facilities will utilize staffing agencies to fill positions with temporary or interim professionals. It is not ideal for the facilities due to higher costs, but it is an alternative to keep patients safe and eliminate increased liability risks. It is also a way for the facility to place a professional in a vacant position to determine their performance. The placement may lead to acquiring a new administrator or director of nursing.