How to Create a Workplace That Attracts and Retains Quality Staff

employer of choice definitionAchieving the status of “employer of choice,” where highly qualified candidates are vying to work at your organization and your best staff members want to stay with you, can be considered a crowning achievement for behavioral and community healthcare employers, especially given today’s reality of soaring turnover rates and a simultaneous national healthcare staff shortage.

While becoming an employer of choice may seem like an uphill battle, it is a necessary one for all involved—skilled clinicians seeking employment, clients, patients and families seeking quality care and services, and for organizations like yours seeking a solid foothold in the future of healthcare.

Why Become an Employer of Choice?

Your staff is your greatest asset. They’re the glue keeping your organization together, working hard to care for your patients and clients. However, high caseloads, stressful environments and skill gaps often make retaining your staff hard to do.

And it might get even harder: By 2025, we’re projected to have a 250,000 worker shortage in the behavioral health field.

Not only is the workforce shortage a cause for concern, but the cost to replacing staff is also rising:

Turnover rates, workforce shortages and hiring costs directly impact your existing staff, forcing them to either take on too much or look for new employment. This ultimately affects the level of care your clients and patients receive and your organization’s reputation in the community.

While you may not have much influence on the projected workforce shortage or costs of hiring, you do have more control over how these industry challenges affect your organization, specifically hiring and keeping top talent.

This is where becoming an employer of choice comes in. Companies that offer their staff a friendly work culture, benefits, work-life balance, and professional development are sought after by hardworking employees. If you think this seems too good to be true or that you could never become an employer of choice, we’re about to show you how.

Download the e-book Becoming an Employer of Choice When You’re Short on Staff and High on Turnover to learn step-by-step how to improve your hiring, interviewing, and onboarding strategies to improve employee retention and engagement. You’ll also receive worksheets and practical tools to help you get started. Download the e-book

Becoming an Employer of Choice Doesn’t Happen Overnight

As they say, nothing comes easy. That’s also true here. Becoming an employer of choice isn’t something you purchase or win. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you can’t “fix it and forget it.” It is earned via a process that requires the right people, the right planning, the right tools and a hefty dose of dedication to keep it going.

As a behavioral health or community healthcare center, finding the time to take on such an endeavor may seem impossible considering your (and your staff’s) daily workload, which is a realistic concern. To give you an idea, some of the key steps to getting here include:

  • Examining how you’re currently hiring, interviewing, onboarding and training your staff
  • Identifying where you need to improve
  • Gaining buy-in from senior leadership
  • Acquiring the right resources to make improvements
  • Implementing new hiring and onboarding strategies and processes
  • Maintaining and reviewing the changes over time

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Becoming an employer of choice is a journey. It is important to stay focused on your end goal in order to stay the course. On the bright side, most of the time-consuming work happens on the front end of the journey and becomes easier along the way. Then, when you reach your destination, you realize all the effort you put in helped you pave the path to success for years to come. The hard work you put in will pay off greatly in the end.

  • 69% of employees are more likely to stay with an employer for three years if they experienced great onboarding
  • 50% greater work productivity is seen in organizations with a structured onboarding process

Being an employer of choice can help your organization in many ways. In the current environment of clinician scarcity and high churn, it can help you maintain a competitive advantage in your industry, in the communities you serve, and in the quality of care and services you provide.

In addition, it can help you:

  • Attract more highly qualified candidates to apply for your open roles
  • Reduce turnover with better interviewing and selection processes
  • Safeguard your organization from claims of discrimination or bias in hiring
  • Onboard faster so clinicians can contribute sooner
  • Leverage training and development to improve staff retention
  • Build a leadership pipeline, invest in career growth and prepare for succession planning

Build a Manageable Plan to Improve Hiring and Retention

Don’t let this process become so daunting that you never begin. There is always a solution to make the process easier. Besides, you don’t want your organization to get stuck in a constant cycle of churn. It leads to wasted budget dollars, negatively affects care quality and outcomes, and causes frustration, burnout and low morale.

avoid the constant cycle of churn

One way to make the process more manageable is by breaking it down into smaller steps. Becoming an employer of choice can be categorized into four milestones: Attract, Hire, Onboard, and Develop.

milestones for becoming and employer of choice

Throughout each milestone, you’ll look at specific pieces of your hiring and retaining process. Below is a sample of items you should review, update and train your team on:

atrract hire onboard and develop graphic

For an in-depth walkthrough of the entire planning process—complete with helpful templates and worksheets, download the free guide How to Become an Employer of Choice… When You’re Short on Staff and High on Turnover.

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Jeanine D’Alusio

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Relias

Jeanine spends her days writing for the Health and Human Services industry at Relias. Before her career in marketing, she worked extensively in human resources and learning and development. Jeanine has more than 10 years of nonprofit experience, including as an HR Director at a multiservice behavioral health and community services organization. Jeanine is also a licensed massage therapist who enjoys helping her clients feel better in her spare time.

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