With workforce shortages across the healthcare sector and high vacancy rates particularly for specialized clinical staff, attracting and retaining talent is arguably the top operational priority for every administrative team. Adequate, consistent staffing helps further patient safety, lowers the risk of clinician burnout, and reduces spending on contract staff.
While sign-on bonuses and increasingly generous compensation packages may have a positive impact on recruiting, it’s not a long-term solution (with the effectiveness of sign-on bonuses particularly questionable). Rather, organizational culture must be paramount when it comes to keeping your people and finding new team members. And that starts at the top.
“Before you can use your culture to bring people over, you need to believe in it yourself. Otherwise, you’re just a recruiter,” explains Joel Betz, MD, Regional Medical Officer of TECHealth, An Emergency Services Company.
Values To Believe In
According to business mogul Richard Branson, “There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.”
This seems rather elementary. As most healthcare leaders know, though, operationalizing it across a large team (often filled with strong personalities) that is switched on 24/7 presents challenges and means culture can’t simply be built around one or two good leaders.
A strong, consistent culture must be built on values that the entire leadership team has bought into for starters, according to Dr. Betz.
For instance, TECHealth’s core values are Accountability, Empathy, Do Something Good, and Zeal. There is a focus on bringing these values to every interaction with both patients and other team members, and that has created a positive environment.
“I really do believe in our values and what we’re doing here, so it made it easier to reach out and start bringing other doctors over,” Dr. Betz says.
A Domino Effect
“For recruiting, we don’t do a bunch of headhunting or that kind of thing,” Dr. Betz notes. “We’ve had people who’ve joined TECHealth’s team and felt that positivity and support and then recruit for us.”
This approach is particularly helpful in ER, critical care, and other hospital-based clinical roles where it’s easier for physicians and other clinicians to change jobs since they don’t have the same exit costs associated with outpatient-based practices. Additionally, the stresses that come with working in a hospital in any given area are likely similar, making the work experience (i.e., culture) more of a determining factor for a clinician in choosing where to practice.
For TECHealth, Dr. Betz says their culture has not only led to a low vacancy rate, but it also has allowed them to become more selective in who they hire, ensuring they are a fit. Most importantly, it has a daily impact on their staff’s satisfaction.
“I had one doctor who joined us tell me, ‘I want to tell you how much I appreciate you bringing me over because it’s changed my life,’” says Dr. Betz. The physician went on to share how much better his work-life balance was and how his wife was much happier.
Support Starts With Engagement
Beyond having the right values, it’s up to leaders at every level to remain engaged with their teams, tying their team’s daily work to the values and overall organizational culture. This starts with ongoing 360-degree communication with team members, recognizing and thanking the team members who earn it, and simply being around to support staff by being intentional with your schedule.
“At the end of the day, I believe that if you support your teams, it will translate from them being happier to better patient care,” says Dr. Betz.
To find out more about building an ER culture that prevents burnout and furthers patient care, reach out to TECHealth.