Healthcare workers rotate through jobs every four years on average. And, according to estimates, over the next decade neurologists will be faced with a 25 to 30 percent increase in the people needed to service a growing patient population.

Reducing employee turnover requires a change in mindset when hiring new staffers.

That’s according to Rikki Maher, a clinical administrator at the University of Kentucky. She spoke at a recent American Academy of Neurology meeting for private practice neurologists — who by design have focused most of their training on the clinical aspects of their jobs.

“Employers have to compete to get the best people and to keep them from leaving,” Maher said.

In her 32 years at the university, where she has managed both neurology and neurosurgery departments, Maher said she has learned that holding onto good employees requires an understanding of why people tend to leave their jobs.

Reasons for high turnover rates today may include an employee’s desire for better pay and benefits, more recognition, better work hours, and less stressful environments. The COVID-19 pandemic has also caused a shift for employees wanting a better work-life balance, Maher said.

With that in mind, retaining staffers starts with successful recruiting and interviews, Maher said.

Recruitment Tips

The first step to successful recruitment is clearly defining the qualities necessary for the job. Prospective applicants have many different strengths to consider, and you’ll find a better fit by considering what attributes you need most in your office during recruitment.

Do you need an employee good at coming up with ideas? Should the applicant thrive in a well-ordered or unstructured environment? Is organization important?

Maher also stressed the importance of looking for people from diverse backgrounds, including varying ages, gender, color, and sexuality. Different cultural and religious backgrounds can also be beneficial. Increased diversity in your organization means having a more dynamic and creative work environment where unique ideas are valued, she said.

“We have a very diverse population of patients, and I try to have a staff that mirror that,” Maher said.

Nailing the Interview

Before the first interview, it’s important to take the time to re-read the job description and plan out your questions, Maher said. For consistency, she also sets up a point grid system for scoring. This way she can give each candidate points for the different qualities or skill sets she is looking for.

She’ll often pick a real problem she’s trying to solve and ask the candidate what they would do. You’ll see the applicant’s strengths and critical thinking skills. And their idea might actually help you solve that problem, Maher said.

During the interview, think about other positions within your organization that the candidate might fit or grow into. Ask them what they want and where they see themselves going. Look for skills that could benefit your organization beyond the job you are hiring for. Think about mentoring opportunities that might help them grow professionally.

All this preparation will be well worth your time in the long run, said Maher. Otherwise, by the time your employees are fully trained and ready to help your practice, they may be looking for the next opportunity.