3 Ways to Address the High Turnover Rate in Healthcare Leadership

Last Updated on March 7, 2023

3 Ways to Address the High Turnover Rate in Healthcare Leadership

The sharp rise in healthcare turnover after the pandemic has been the subject of much debate and strategic thinking. And understandably so, given the need for facilities to stay fully staffed in the face of tight margins and more demanding care. Yet some experts are also calling attention to another, equally serious metric — the high turnover rate in healthcare leaders, from nurse managers to CEOs.

The most recent data from American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) puts the turnover rate for hospitals CEOs at 16 percent. While that’s in line with the average rate for all CEOs at about 17 percent, according to data from PwC, and even lower than the overall turnover rate in healthcare (calculated to be between 25 and 30 percent), it does pose a significant challenge for impacted organizations.

As important as executives are, though, they’re not the only factor in the current turnover rate in healthcare leadership. The availability of nursing directors, clinical managers, and other key leadership roles has also been impacted by the workforce shortage, forcing many organizations to ask even more from available workers — a major contributor to widespread burnout.

At a time when momentum and leadership is needed like never before, the last thing healthcare organizations want to face is unexpected turnover in leadership, or, possibly even worse, a prolonged absence. And with a historic series of challenges facing them, few operators can afford to ensure such lapses for an extended period of time, whether it’s a chief executive or a unit manager.

What Can Organizations Do about the High Turnover Rate in Healthcare Leadership?

In addition to jeopardizing continuity of care and overall operations, a high turnover rate in healthcare leadership can also damage morale, and even extend turnover to other departments. With that in mind, then, here are a few ways that facilities can successfully adapt to the situation.

Embrace the need for internal promotion with education & training

Research on the topic of the turnover rate in healthcare leadership consistently reveals that at least two-thirds, and as much as three-fourths, of new appointments come from within the organization. And a Health Management Academy (HMA) research brief cited by Fierce Healthcare estimated that almost 60 percent of those internal hires had already been on staff for an average of 14 years.

The presumption is that leading systems “value the institutional knowledge offered by internal candidates,” as the HMA brief stated. And one way to maximize that value is by making sure that current team members have access to the kind of leadership education and training that helps build skills, as well as the internal career opportunities that help them realize their larger goals.

Takeaway: Promoting professional development among employees, and especially those pursuing management or other leadership positions, is a good way to curb turnover and boost morale. It also helps to ensure that you can promote current team members when the opportunity arises, helping to keep them within the organization as they advance in their careers.

> Take a deeper dive: Why Clinical Professional Development Matters for Healthcare Employers

Build a better, more diverse culture

Building and maintaining a positive corporate culture is another method to keep turnover low, and to help prevent your employees from getting poached by competitors. Offering a more engaging and rewarding place to work — one that values every individual, and their contribution — can also help attract higher-quality candidates when a new leadership position needs to be filled.

Of course, meeting today’s standards in corporate culture also means fully embracing diversity in the workplace. The HMA data showed that just one in 24 new CEOs in 2022 was female, “a significant drop” from previous years, when it was just under one in five. And the American Hospital Association has predicted that equal gender representation on hospital boards will take at least 20 more years.

Takeaway: Focusing on recruiting from a more diverse base of candidates (not just for leaders, but everyone else, for that matter) and working to achieve a more positive, inclusive culture can help keep turnover low, and more readily attract great leaders when you external sourcing is needed.  

> Take action: 6 Strategies for a More Positive Corporate Culture in Healthcare

Embrace third-party solutions

One of the biggest challenges associated with the high turnover rate in healthcare leadership is the relatively small pool of available talent. Even for organizations based in major metro areas, the number of qualified leaders to choose from can be sparse. And the talent that is available is likely to come at a steep price.

One way to expand the parameters of that search is with the help of a third-party specialist. And, while some organizations may seek to scale back their use of vendors due to budgetary constraints, those that do so may be missing a valuable chance to find more seasoned and experienced managers and leaders than may otherwise be available when the need arises.

Takeaway: Partnering with a provider of interim leadership solutions can help curb burnout among staff by providing fill-ins for sabbaticals and leaves of absence. And having a partner with a nationwide reach of great candidates is also a way to ensure that organizations have a deep  bench of talent to choose from in the case of an unexpected departure.

> Don’t miss: 4 Benefits of Interim Leadership Staffing in Healthcare

Better Manage Turnover with Interim Staffing Solutions

Looking for interim healthcare staffing solutions? At CareerStaff, we specialize in helping facilities quickly fill leadership vacancies, to better ensure a seamless transition and improved operational outcomes. Our nationwide network of professional talent is made up of proven leaders to help strategically manage the goals and initiatives that are most important to your organization.

We’re also proud to hold Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Workplace Certification™ as well as The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Healthcare Staffing Services Certification as a demonstration of our commitment to our clients. You can learn more about our interim leadership solutions here, or get the ball rolling by submitting a staffing request now

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