Good help is hard to find. In case you hadn’t heard, we are in the midst of what has been coined the Great Resignation. Large numbers of potential employees are in the process of re-evaluating their careers and the amount of time they spend working – and many are opting to leave the workforce altogether. ASCs are not immune to this trend. For example, the results from ASCA’s 2021 Salary & Benefits Survey indicate that “35 percent [of ASCs] reported a generally higher turnover rate in 2020 than 2019.” There are likely several driving forces behind this movement, not the least of which is COVID-19. But regardless the cause, one fact remains constant -- employee turnover is expensive. Here are six focus areas and suggestions to help combat it.

1. Offer More Competitive Salaries and Benefits

Sure that seems like an obvious answer. But the reality is that income level strongly correlates to job satisfaction. If your center is serious about generating better patient outcomes, then this point cannot be overstated.

Everybody wants to be compensated well (benefits included). So you may need to perform some wage/compensation research in your local market to ensure that you are paying your employees to not only cover their basic expenses but also provide enough disposable income for extras, savings and “gotchas” (those unexpected expenses that crop up from time-to-time, like car repairs or health bills). The happiest employees are those that feel like they are being taken care of while actually getting ahead financially. If you don’t pay your employees well, they will eventually migrate to a business or hospital that will.

2. Show Recognition

It is important to understand that your employees crave encouragement and recognition. When they do a good job, let them know it. When they complete a big project, offer congratulations. Show them that you notice their hard work. Unsurprisingly, “employees who are recognized more often are happier than those who are rarely recognized or not recognized at all.”

Motivating your employees to do their best work leads to a more positive environment where they will be less likely to want to leave. The best part about this leadership tactic is that it doesn’t cost a cent to make your employees feel valued and respected, outside of your time understanding their challenges and recognizing their accomplishments.

3. Consider Flexible Schedules and Increased PTO

If possible, offer flexible work schedules. Flexible work schedules let your staffers more easily achieve their optimal work-life balance, which is critical for maintaining positive mental health especially in a high-stress environment. Employees should be encouraged to pursue activities outside the surgery center and given appropriate time to do so. They will be happier and you will be too!

In some cases it may not be possible for an ASC to adjust its schedule to accommodate employees. Maybe there are other ways to offer flexibility, such as when or how long staff can take breaks and lunches.

Some companies (like Nike, LinkedIn and Bumble) are offering employees increased Paid Time-Off (PTO) for mental health days. I moved our company to a four-day work week to allow employees to have more freedom to make appointments, take care of themselves (and their families), and catch up on the things in life that are most important to them. What we have found is that our commitment to their well-being is returned several fold through their appreciation and loyalty. Plus they are more focused when they are “on-the-clock.” It’s hard for competing employers to beat that.

4. Provide a Career Path

Another way to keep employees engaged is to show them a clear path to advancement. If employees remain stagnant for too long in one position or aren’t presented opportunities to learn new skills, they may look somewhere else to work. Every role in your center should feed into another. Whether it’s an upward move or a lateral move, showing your employees a clear career path will give them a sense of direction within your center.

5. ABR - Always Be Recruiting

Just like a successful sports franchise, finding good talent shouldn’t be a sporadic task that only happens when you lose an employee. You should always be looking to upgrade your team. Partner with a reliable recruiter, and make sure your job placement ads are reaching the right people. For recruiting surgeons, LinkedIn and surgery-related publications might make the most sense; for nurses and other staffing jobs, Indeed, ZipRecruiter and even Craigslist have proven effective for recruitment.

6. Outsource Your Business Office

Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to think outside the box. If it is difficult to retain or train quality staff, then perhaps the proper solution is to outsource some or all of your non-core, clinical activities (e.g. billing, coding, revenue management, etc.). Let me be clear, outsourcing does not mean ceding control. Just remember that choosing the right partner is key.

The top advantages of outsourcing your business and revenue cycle duties include:

  • More revenue, faster payments
  • Your dedicated team is always certified
  • Ability to scale up (or down) quickly
  • No one calls in sick or goes on vacation
  • Focus on what’s most important, your patients

Let’s face it, there will always be some amount of turnover in your ASC as employees change career paths, find other jobs, become a stay-at-home parent, start their own business or choose to retire. Because it won’t ever be completely eliminated, the best you can do is attempt to minimize turnover by providing a positive work environment where employees will want to stick around.