Redefining Recruitment to Retention

5 Considerations for Launching Your Formal Retention Program

As the national physician shortage continues, demand for physician and provider talent is only expected to grow, giving physicians who are unsatisfied with their working conditions the opportunity to find a similar role with a competing organization.

In fact, AAPPR’s 2022 report on increased provider turnover shows one in three physicians and nearly one in two advanced practice providers (APPs) have departed their employer for a similar position elsewhere. Despite this trend, more than 75% of survey respondents say their organization does not have a formal retention program in place.

With ongoing physician shortages, a recruitment strategy isn’t enough to keep your organization staffed, and it’s critical that your workforce planning strategy prioritizes retaining the high-quality talent you already have. To ensure retention remains a top priority and minimize turnover, we recommend implementing a formal retention program. Here are five things to consider when launching your formal retention program:

  1. Create Connection Between Recruitment Professionals and Senior Leadership
  2. Develop a Mentorship Program
  3. Build Incentive Bonuses into Contracts
  4. Include Physicians in Decision Making
  5. Launch Stay Interviews

Create Connection Between Recruitment Professionals and Senior Leadership

  • It’s a recruitment professional’s job to get to know each physician they work with personally and develop an understanding of what motivates them. However, recruitment professionals are rarely in a position to make decisions that will directly impact physicians and their motivation to stay at the organization. For physicians’ wants and needs to be considered during decision making processes, it’s important for there to be an open line of communication between senior leaders (the decision makers) and recruiters, who often serve as advocates for the physicians they work with. By involving recruitment professionals in decision making and allowing them to establish strong relationships with organizational leadership, the health care providers can strategically move in a direction that best meets the needs of physicians and providers, making them more likely to stay in their position.

Develop a Mentorship Program

  • Mentorship fosters a collaborative environment and encourages professional and personal growth within your staff. Formal mentorship programs allow for mentors and mentees to easily find each other and help build a culture that supports learning and diverse thought. Through these programs, mentors have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences with others, while mentees have access to a trusted resource to gain insight on navigating their chosen career. Many physicians will choose to leave an organization when they feel they are no longer being challenged or fulfilled professionally. A mentorship program is a great way to ensure ongoing professional development while fostering long-term connections.

Build Incentive Bonuses into Contracts

  • Building incentive bonuses into a physician’s initial contract can improve their effectiveness and provides financial motivation over the life of the contract. Our quantitative survey from last year’s Increased Provider Turnover Report found that 85% of respondents offer a signing bonus, which creates a retention incentive for physicians to stay through the contract period. Bonus amounts can range from $5,000 to $100,000 as the amount heavily depends on the specialty. While many organizations may be implementing cost saving measures, it’s important to note the cost of replacing a physician who leaves the organization will likely heavily exceed the amount of a typical bonus, making the incentive well worth the cost.

Include Physicians in Decision Making

  • Involving physician leadership in retention activities and decision making has the power to increase retention rates within your organization and mitigate burnout. Engraining retention practices into everyday operations, like regular touchpoints with team members, can help identify what motivates physicians as well as what issues they are facing. As discussed in the first consideration, deeply knowing your physicians and what matters to them can also greatly help when making decisions that ultimately affect them. A good way to do this is to position physician leaders at the forefront of retention activities so they can advocate for themselves and their teams. This provides valuable opportunities for physicians to provide feedback on organizational initiatives such as rolling out a new technology, helping ensure the technology complements and supports physicians in their roles, rather than adding stress to their day. You can learn more about these best practices in our blog “No Decisions Without Me – Involving Physicians in Decision Making to Minimize Burnout.”

Launch Stay Interviews

  • When developing an effective retention strategy, the most important factor is your audience. You must know them and understand their wants and needs as a professional. Proactively instilling retention practices, such as stay interviews, into daily operations provides organizations an advantage to surviving the post-pandemic environment. These interviews as well as consistent touchpoints play a key role in identifying issues and potential stressors in the workplace before they become crises that can lead to turnover.

Once your organization’s retention program is developed and in place, it’s important to measure its effectiveness and analyze if there is any room for improvement. One way you can measure this is by comparing your previous turnover rate to your present one. Surveying physicians on factors that often drive turnover, including burnout, level of work-life balance and overall job satisfaction, can also help guide the program and identify opportunities for improvement.

As competition for clinical talent continues to dramatically rise, investing in a formal retention program will bring your organization long-term benefits including reduced turnover and increased retention of top talent, while creating a work environment that demonstrates you are an employer of choice.