Never before has there been such a focus in health care on finding and retaining workers, according to Carpenter. “When you’ve got 40% turnover, you may be spending close to a million dollars in terms of hard and soft costs,” said Carpenter, who is a current member of the board of directors for the Large Urology Group Practice Association.

During the first 6 months of this year, Carpenter was meeting virtually with other urologic practices about recruiting and training employees. It is now necessary to shift wages for positions that present recruitment challenges. “Right-sizing your workers who have been there is an issue. If you have loyal employees, you have to be careful navigating when you have signing bonuses,” Carpenter said.

It is common now to pay $500 to $1,500 signing bonuses depending on the position and the demand. At some medical practices, staff members who refer somebody for a position and that person is hired will receive $500 if the new hire stays 6 months. “We are shaking the trees, going to schools to try to get clinical assistants. The problem is there are fewer of them coming out of school,” Carpenter said. 

Novel Approaches to Staff Retention

Loan forgiveness is common as are a host of other perks. A medical practice in the southern United States recently bought a beach house as a tool for acquiring and retaining good staff. “The employees can reserve it and use the beach house for a certain amount of days based on the number of years with the company and based on their level of seniority,” Carpenter said. “Everyone is trying something novel.”

Brabec said the biggest problem he sees in many medical practices is that they do not define their mission. Subsequently, the staff just think their day is a bunch of tasks and they get a paycheck. “It is much easier to retain employees when they feel like they are part of a team, like a baseball team. They have to feel they matter, and so it means they have to be listened to,” Brabec said.

Open communication and empowerment are the keys. Carole Ann Norman, who manages a large nephrology practice in Columbia, South Carolina, said optimal benefit packages should comprise employee benefits such as health, dental, life, and long-term disability insurance.

Most incentive packages now include coverage for all costs associated with the position, such as malpractice insurance and license renewal. Norman’s group covers memberships to professional medical organizations and allows time off for continuing medical education that does not count against their personal time off.

This article originally appeared on Renal and Urology News