Insights From Our Editors

Staff Retention: 5 Actions to Take to Create a High-Performing, Long-Lasting Staff

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

Feb. 24, 2021

Replacing a high-performing employee, who has voluntarily vacated their position, is costly. There is an expense to recruitment and getting the new employee up to speed with training. Here are actions you can take to strengthen employee retention, so your best employees stay with you for years.

Forward-thinking organizations make sure every staff member understands how important the product of their job uniquely contributes to the overall mission of the practice. To identify how well a practice is achieving this goal, we like to ask these two questions of each staff member and doctor in a practice:

1) What do you produce for this practice?
2) How does what you produce relate to the overall mission of this practice?

Most staff members and doctors will answer the first question by telling us what they do, rather than what they produce, and most staff members and doctors will struggle to answer the second question as well. Don’t let that happen in your practice. Make sure that every staff member understands how their valuable contribution to the practice improves the delivery of high-quality care to each patient seen.

“Recent studies have shown that strengthening relationships at work improves morale, increases engagement and leads to greater satisfaction at worki.” Healthy relationships are those that establish mutual trust, respect and understanding.

You’re not trying to become every staff member’s best friend. You are trying to make sure that every staff member knows that you care about them and that you want the best for them.

Recognizing your employees’ achievements is another way you can make sure that every staff member understands how important their job is to the overall delivery of high-quality healthcare in your practice.

You need to take the time to discover the best way to recognize each staff member. Some people want to be recognized publicly such as a notice in the newspaper or an award on the wall in the office. Other people prefer to be recognized by a day off. Still others prefer a monetary reward. Vendors can be helpful when the employees preferred recognition involves gifts. Don’t fall into the trap of giving a one-size solution to everyone. Individualized recognition carries far greater weight.

Both of our sons were nationally ranked chess players. One of the important lessons we learned early on was how you position things matters. Throughout their chess careers both boys faced many “learning opportunities.” It was inevitable that they were going to lose a game. One of the things that horrified us was to see a parent berating a child for losing a game. We felt it was much healthier approach to view the lost game as a learning opportunity.

You can apply this approach in your practice. How do you handle a staff member who makes a mistake? (By the way, we are all going to make mistakes.) In a positive culture, this can be a learning opportunity. A positive culture creates a better team environment.

Usually, annual employee evaluations are centered around job performance with a discussion of pay for the next year. Add another level to this discussion with each staff member. Ask these following four questions in the “stay” portion of the interviewii:

• What about your job makes you eager to get to work?
• If you were to leave the practice, what would you miss the most?
• What would be the one thing, if it changed in your current position, that would make you consider leaving the practice?
• What is the one thing, if it was changed, that would make your job better?

We must be proactive in order to engage and retain the best staff possible. Take this week to evaluate, identify and implement what you need to do to retain staff in the competitive world in which we live.

i. The Importance of Relationships in the Workplace – Humor That Works
ii. How to Engage and Retain Healthcare Workers | PeopleScout

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