How HIT Employee Expectations Are Changing and What You Need to Do to Hold Onto Your Best Employees

Guest post by Ben Weber, managing director, Greythorn.

Ben Weber
Ben Weber

The pace of life has changed over the last few decades, and it’s changed absolutely everything. Now, we expect communication to be instantaneous by email and text. We expect delivery to be two-day (and free), thanks to Amazon. And increasingly, expectations about work and careers have changed as well. The time spent at a single organization has been condensed, going from 40 years down to three, five or sometimes even less. Most people anticipate working for multiple companies over the course of their career, not to mention some may have multiple careers in the course of their working lives. Either way, this is a costly trend for employers.

That’s one reason we here at Greythorn conduct an annual survey of healthcare IT professionals: so we can understand what’s motivating them to stay, or seek out new employment. Have a look at some of our key findings and consider what this may mean for you and your team/organization. Perhaps there’s a nugget or two within that may help you ensure you’re doing everything you can to retain your top talent.

Motivation #1: A higher salary

It should come as no surprise that a higher salary can tempt someone away, even from a job they love. What might surprise you, however, is how many of your employees expect their salary to increase right now in their current roles: a full 87 percent of survey respondents said they expect at least a 3 percent increase in the next 12 months. If this expectation isn’t managed or met, the odds are good that you may start seeing some of your best employees begin to grumble.

According to our research, job security is no longer a top motivator for healthcare IT professionals. In our last survey, it slid from the top three—where it’s remained for several years—to number six. Meanwhile, 71 percent of the full-time employees who participated in our research said they’d consider joining the uncertain world of consulting—mainly, because the money’s superior. They’ve accepted that in consulting, job security is rare, and are choosing to embrace that higher degree of risk to capitalize on their earning potential.

So what can you do? Besides the obvious and often less feasible option of increasing everyone’s salary, you can provide transparency to your staff.  Ensure they understand what’s expected of them and are accountable for delivering on your key objectives. Provide documentation to support a salary review and/or a guaranteed raise based on meeting those objectives.  Explain some of the  obscured issues going on within your hospital or health system, which may make a raise unattainable (for now), and/or why the annual bonus was potentially smaller than what they’d hoped for. Although they may be disappointed with the news you’re sharing, you’ll further a trusted relationship—and their loyalty—with your honesty.

Motivation #2: Advancement and interesting work

Think about your top employees for a moment: what makes them great? Likely, they all share a few characteristics, such as being highly motivated and satisfied by a job well done, not to mention passionate about their work. They’re probably people who thrive on the challenges that come with achievement, correct? It’s traits like these that make them valuable to your organization, and also contribute to why they’ll consider leaving it.

Of our survey respondents, nearly a third—30 percent—said they left their last job to pursue career development and advancement. An additional 11 percent said they left their last job to find more challenging and interesting work. This is a huge jump from the 3 percent who cited a new challenge the year before—a 30 percent increase year over year.

Think again about your top employees—they’re motivated by interesting work, but the longer they stay with you, the more likely it becomes that they’re losing interest if their work isn’t evolving.

They’re also motivated by achievement—so are you helping move your top employees up through the organization? If they aren’t moving within your hospital system, they may look for other routes to the top.

What can you do? Stay attentive to ensure your top staff members are motivated by and interested in their work. Communicate the path to career advancement within your organization, bi-annually at least. Whenever possible, try to get your top performers involved in new projects; do what you can to keep them excited about coming into work each day. Verbalize your appreciation for their work when they reach a goal or finish a project—even small gestures can provide a sense of achievement.

Motivation #3: Benefits

You may believe your organization offers a fantastic benefits program as part of your overall compensation package (and you probably do). However, when’s the last time you found out whether or not your employees agree?

The definition of an employee benefit is changing, as is how they are viewed and prioritized by HIT professionals. For example, remote work is now considered a higher priority than a 401k match, a relocation bonus, and training/certification opportunities. If you don’t know your team’s priorities, you’re missing vital information in motivating and retaining them.

What should you do? Send around a survey; ask them which benefits are most important and why. Make sure your employees know that you care about their satisfaction, which is why you’re asking. Evaluate where the gaps are between what you provide and what your team wants, and see if there are ways to align them better. If these gaps are considerable, put together a focus group made up of a diverse set of individuals and discuss. Lay out the parameters of what you’re able to do and utilize this working group to help inspire changes that will benefit all.

At the end of the day…

…your employees want to work where they feel valued. Whether that’s signaled through compensation, the work assigned, or the benefits provided, you have a lot of sway over how your team members feel about their jobs—and as a result, whether they want to stay or move on.

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