Editor's note: This popular story from the Daily Briefing's archives was republished on Dec. 4, 2018.
By Sarah Evans, Senior Consultant
Today's health care organizations are losing staff at an unsustainable rate—and the effects are widely felt. Every staff member you lose hurts team morale, productivity, patient experience, and care quality. There's also a hefty financial cost: The cost of turnover is typically estimated at 1.5x the annual salary of a position, so the departure of just one RN could cost your organization over $100,000.
That's why it's vital for managers to leverage their personal, one-on-one connections with their direct reports to surface retention risks early.
But having conversations about turnover isn’t always easy. We've identified four of the biggest reasons that managers put off talking to their teams about turnover—and developed strategies to overcome them.
4 reasons we don't have conversations about turnover
We've found there are four key reasons why managers may be hesitant to start a conversation about turnover with their employees:
1. 'I may make the situation worse by planting the seed'
Some managers are wary of bringing up turnover because they fear it may do more harm than good. However, there's evidence that this concern is unwarranted—and that "stay interviews" can actually reduce turnover.
In 2011, Burcham Hills Retirement Community, 133-bed retirement community in East Lansing, Michigan, implemented manager-led stay interviews for nurses after 30 days of employment, and for each following year. The interviews included questions like "Have you ever thought about leaving our team?" and "How does working here compare to what you thought it would be like?"
The result was a 72% decrease in turnover among experienced nurses and 100% retention for new nurses in the first 180 days.
2. 'I can't do anything to change their decision anyway'
Many managers overestimate the impact of factors such as compensation on employee turnover—and underestimate their own influence as a manager. In reality, managers do have control over important factors that drive turnover. For instance, managers can foster interpersonal relationships on their teams, identify when a certain job does not match an individual's desired responsibilities or skillsets, and provide workload relief. Managers also play a key role in their direct reports' career growth and development.
3. 'It's too personal and uncomfortable'
Every relationship between manager and direct report is different, but that doesn't mean conversations about an employee's future need to be painful. To alleviate the stress of a formal conversation for both managers and staff, consider keeping it a casual, ongoing conversation. Managers can check-in about employees’ future plans, using simple plans such as:
"I want to make sure you have a path that you're excited about here. I'd love to spend some time brainstorming what the future could look like."
4. 'I'm too busy to have any more one-on-one conversations'
In a perfect world, managers and staff would have ample time to discuss each and every aspect of their work life—but time is finite, so it's essential for managers to triage and choose the right conversation, for the right person, at the right time.
For your most critical, "keystone" staff members, consider using annual or biannual stay interviews to find out what will likely make someone stay at the organization.
Sometimes, an employee begins exhibiting clear signs of potential turnover. In these cases, schedule red flag check-ins to productively discuss the issues and find solutions to alleviate them.
Finally, there are occasions when an employee's departure seems inevitable. When a staff member announces plans to leave, hold a resignation recovery conversation to learn as much as you can about the employee's reason for giving notice to rectify issues that may cause other employees to resign—and leave the door open for the departing employee to stay or return.
Learn more: 7 conversations managers must have with employees
For the past seven weeks, the Daily Briefing has dived deep into the most important conversations managers should have with employees. Now, read the full series—and download tools, templates, and best practices to help you have these critical conversations:
- A behavioral-based interview with your job candidate
- Your first check-in with your new hire
- 30, 60, and 90-day check-ins with your new hire
- How to give employees regular recognition
- Conduct a performance review
- Perform a goal-focused mid-year check-in
- Encourage high-value staff to delay retirement