Staff turnover got you down? Check out our tips

April 15, 2019

When an employee leaves your practice, it is costly to replace them. Employee turnover costs money and time, but it also affects quality, efficiency, patient satisfaction and staff morale. It can take months to get a new team member up to speed with your practice protocols and culture, provider preferences and EHR. Despite these costs, a recent Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) poll of practice managers indicated 31% of respondents have staff turnover of more than 15%. Ouch!

Source: Health leaders report highest turnover in clinical support staff positions

The good news is that one of the most effective ways to improve employee retention costs little or nothing but can have an enormous impact. The secret? Recognizing and rewarding your employees. Employees absolutely want to be appreciated and valued for the work they do. Here are some simple but effective tips:

  1. Say thank you.

    It may sound crazy, but a sincere “thank you” - especially from the allergist - is your most powerful tool.This simple gesture will make an employee feel valued and appreciated rather than taken for granted. As an allergist, you are thanked countless times a day by your patients. Take the time to do the same for the team that supports you. Look for opportunities to recognize your employees and be specific. With a front desk employee, you might say, “Sarah, I really appreciate how well you handle upset patients on the phone. You do a terrific job.” With a nurse, you could say, “Jane, you cared for that nervous child beautifully today. Great job setting him at ease!”

    ACAAI Practice Management Committee members regularly put this into practice. “I’ve been making a habit of personally thanking my staff on a regular basis," says Stanley Fineman, MD, MBA, FACAAI, chair of the Practice Management Committee. “Last year one of my new staff commented to me during her annual review that never before had a physician personally thanked her for her efforts. A little recognition goes a long way.” 
  2. Write thank you notes.

    Written thank you notes may seem old-fashioned in the digital age, but they are impactful. Write, or ask your manager to write three thank you notes each month, and mail them to the employee’s home, where they can share them with family.
  3. Create a recognition program.

    A simple recognition program allows providers and team members to recognize each other, and patients to recognize staff. One idea for doing this is to give “High Five!” cards to the recognized team members and hold a monthly drawing for gift cards.

Be sincere and honest in your appreciation of employees. It will lift up your staff and pay dividends to your practice and patients.

If you want to dig deeper into ways to improve employee retention, the College has you covered. Our free Allergy Office Essentials educational package includes two helpful 15-minute HR modules. Managing Employees addresses five key steps to engage and retain employees, and Hiring and Onboarding explains how to recruit, interview and hire the perfect candidate for a position. Finally, our Human Resources toolkit is full of HR advice, resources and sample documents, including an employee handbook and code of conduct.