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Why Health Care Workers Leave and What Makes Them Stay

health care worker satisfactionHeavy patient loads, smaller staffs and higher stress levels may be causing health care workers to check themselves out of their facilities. More than a third (34 percent) of health care workers plan to look for a new job in 2013, up from 24 percent last year. Nearly half (45 percent) plan to look for a new job over the next two years. Eighty-two percent said that while they are not actively looking for a job today, they would be open to a new position if they came across the right opportunity.

Not only are health care organizations dealing with a shortage of high skill workers, they are facing higher demand fueled by an aging population and more Americans having access to medical benefits. Nearly half – 46 percent – of health care organizations said they have seen a negative impact on their organizations due to extended job vacancies.* Long hours and juggling multiple patient needs are taking their toll on morale and retention. The survey shows health care workers are seeking a more manageable work experience.

Burnout and Turnover

A tougher hiring situation can have a direct impact on patient care with current staff becoming more stressed as they cover positions open for extended periods of time. Sixty percent of health care workers say they are burned out on their jobs. Twenty-one percent always or often feel burned out. Of workers who feel always or often burned out, 67 percent plan to look for a new job this year.

Top Staffing Challenges for Health Care Organizations

Given heightened stress levels and workloads, it’s not surprising that health care employers said their top staffing challenge for 2013 was lifting employee morale (34 percent). This was followed by retaining top talent (33 percent), finding skill workers (32 percent) and offering competitive compensation (30 percent).*

More than one-third of health care employers (34 percent) said they currently have open positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates. Among health care organizations with more than 50 employees, that number is 43 percent.

Job Dissatisfaction

Looking at the key factors that negatively influence job satisfaction and retention, workers reported the following:

  • Pay – Seventy-five percent of health care workers say they do not earn their desired salary – with 29 percent saying not anywhere near it. While 44 percent of health care workers say they received a merit raise in 2012, 17 percent say they haven’t received one since before 2008.Four in ten health care workers (41 percent) say they have not received a cost-of-living increase since before 2008.
  • Work/Life Balance – Eighteen percent of workers said they are dissatisfied with their work/life balance, and when asked what is preventing them from having a good work/life balance the highest percentage cited a workload that is too heavy (44 percent), followed by their employer’s unwillingness to provide flexible work schedules (21 percent).
  • Career Advancement – Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of health care workers are not satisfied with their career progress. A lack of upward mobility was also one of the top reasons why health care workers decided to look for employment opportunities.
  • Switching Industries – Nearly three in ten (29 percent) health care workers say they are currently trying to acquire skills in a new industry or field. Of these workers, 54 percent are going back to school, 18 percent are volunteering, and 7 percent are taking on temporary or contract work.

Why Health Care Workers Stay

The good news is, health care workers who plan to stay in their jobs listed a variety of factors that compel them not to leave their organizations, with the number one factor being a sense of fulfillment.

  • I find my work satisfying and rewarding – 57 percent
  • I enjoy my colleagues – 54 percent
  • Location is ideal – 53 percent
  • Compensation, benefits and perks – 51 percent
  • Flexible work schedules – 44 percent

*From CareerBuilder’s November 2012 survey of more than 270 U.S. health care employers and more than 570 U.S. health care workers conducted online by Harris Interactive©

Jason Lovelace

About Jason Lovelace

Jason Lovelace is president of CareerBuilder Healthcare. In his role, Lovelace is responsible for sales strategies and revenue growth for healthcare organizations, ranging from national hospital systems to regional home health companies throughout the U.S.Lovelace brings 18 years of expertise in using recruitment data to help organizations access and retain top talent. Lovelace leverages an in-depth understanding of hiring trends and worker behavior to effectively meet client needs and deliver results. Lovelace has served in a variety of leadership positions during his thirteen-year tenure at CareerBuilder, including Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Vice President of Sales. Prior to CareerBuilder, Lovelace worked in the advertising industry with a general management role at Rada Advertising, Inc. and in a sales capacity for BB&A. Lovelace holds a BS from Elmhurst College and a MBA from the Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
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