8 insights on retaining new hires

How to to strengthen your first-year staff retention strategy

Almost all health care organizations need to re-focus retaining first-year staff for two primary reasons.

First, new hire turnover is costly. Unexpected turnover creates extra work for managers, remaining staff, and the HR team. More importantly, when new hires you haven’t yet recouped your investment on hiring and training them.

Second, new hire separations make up a growing share of all turnover in health care. Nearly one in three staff who left had less than one year of tenure.

This research briefing offers eight insights to strengthen your first-year staff retention strategy beyond traditional onboarding and orientation programs.

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1. Engaging millennials isn’t enough to keep them.

There is a clear link between engagement and loyalty: engaged staff generally agree they plan to stay at their organization, while disengaged staff typically disagree they will stay. In other words, for most staff, there’s very little gap between a staff member’s engagement level and their loyalty level. However, we see this relationship between engagement and loyalty break down for staff under the age of 35 with less than three years of tenure.

Read about how the gap between engagement and loyalty for early-tenure Millennial impacts your retention strategy on page 3.

Download our study that includes eleven best practices on how to stop early turnover.

2. Your first-year retention strategy starts with your hiring strategy.

Some staff leave within their first year because they weren’t the right fit for your organization to begin with. If you’re seeing a spike in first-year turnover, especially in the first 90 days, take a close look at your hiring practices.

Learn more about how to improve your hiring technique to reduce turnover on page 4.

3. Pull forward hiring so prolonged vacancies don’t lead to more turnover.

When staff leave unexpectedly, it can take hiring teams weeks—if not months—to fill vacancies. That delay leaves teams with a heavier workload, which can lead to more turnover.

Find out how Yale New Haven Hospital hires staff before vacancies occur on page 6.

4. Help managers have the courage to ask staff directly if they plan to leave.

Frontline managers are your first line of defense for retaining staff. Yet, in our conversations with managers, many of them are hesitant to ask staff directly if they plan to leave.

Read about the three conversations managers should master to reduce turnover on page 9.

5. New hires often feel they are failing and their managers would disagree.

New hires often worry about whether they are meeting the expectations of their role. If they’re not sure, they may start feeling they aren’t a good fit for the job—and ultimately leave. Since managers expect new hires to go through a learning curve, they often don’t realize that their new hire may be feeling unsuccessful.

See our guidance on how to survey new hires and their managers to spot retention risks before they lead to turnover on page 11.

Access the New Hire Cross-Check Tool.

6. Extend accountability for first-year retention down to the front line.

Managers alone don’t make or break the new hire experience. In most cases, new hires spend more time with their peers than they spend with their manager. The relationship a new hire has with their team can play a critical role in whether they choose to leave or stay.

Find national statistics on the impact peer relationships have on a new hire’s loyalty to an organization on page 13.

7. Hold up a mirror to teams with an unwelcoming culture.

It’s not news that tenured staff can make new hires feel they aren’t welcome or supported. Most organizations can spot and weed out active bullies. However, it’s not just these extreme cases that can negatively impact a new hire’s experience. More often than not, it’s peers’ more subtle behaviors that make new hires feel their teams don’t support them. But it’s challenging to detect this type of incivility.

Learn about how St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City surveys float nurses to detect incivility on page 15.

8. Start predicting turnover before it happens.

If you could predict which team members are thinking about leaving, you could intervene and perhaps change their mind. The challenge, of course, is figuring out which staff might have one foot out the door.

Read about how Aurora Health Care created a flight risk algorithm to predict which staff members are most likely to leave on page 17.

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New Hire Cross-Check Tool

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