It’s something every doctor or office manager hates to hear—a valued employee has submitted their notice. This is especially true during these trying times of COVID-19. Employee turnover is far more costly to practices than most office managers realize. Studies show that the loss of a single employee can cost around 150% of the employee’s annual salary. Multiply that by the number of employees you lose each year and the number can quickly become astronomical.

Beyond the financial impact, general productivity takes a big hit as other employees are required to take over extra duties during the process of hiring and training a replacement. But perhaps the most detrimental aspect of employee turnover is the impact it has on your patients. In this era of high patient demands, patients want a practice where they know their healthcare team. So much of modern patient care is about the relationships that have been built between patients and their provider. When employees leave, these relationships are damaged.

Unfortunately, employee turnover is a fact of life for all practices. People move, switch careers, or go back to school. Things happen. Regardless, it is still hard to lose people you’ve come to rely on for day-to-day running of your practice. Here are a few things you can do to ease the pain of an employee loss just a bit.

1. Understand your practice turnover rate—In order to know if you might have a problem with high staff turnover, it’s important that you know where you stand. Typically, in the healthcare industry, around 15 percent turnover each year is considered acceptable. Sit down and take note of how many employees have left over the past 2-3 years. If you’re stretching up towards 20 percent, there is a problem. Also keep an eye on losses in different areas. If you only have a 10 percent turnover rate, but everyone who left came from the same department, there may be something going on. By keeping a close eye on turnover you can make sure your environment is one where employees want to stay.

2. Always conduct an exit interview—An exit interview is a great opportunity to get some real, honest feedback about your practice work environment. Ask specific questions to find out more about what work is like for that employee. Emphasize confidentiality and ask for honesty. Take their feedback to heart. It can be hard to hear negative things about your practice, but it is important to be open to changes that need to take place. This can help prevent the loss of key employees in the future.

3. Keep team spirits up—It can be really hard on other employees when someone leaves. Not only areDuring medical practice turnover is important to keep team spirits up extra duties often placed on their shoulders, but they can feel the emotional loss of a friend and coworker. It is a good idea to send out periodic employee surveys to keep your finger on the pulse of how employees are feeling. Work to foster a team mentality during these times. Set goals as a team, reach out to all employees individually, and make sure everyone know that they are important to the practice.

4. Cross train employees—One of the worst things about when a team member leaves is losing their knowledge. This is especially true if that person was the only one who had that knowledge. For example, if only that one person really knew how to use your patient management system, there will be a lot of pain during training. Cross training employees may mean that every few weeks you have people trade off on duties. At least two people need to know the ins and outs of every system. In addition, you should keep an up-to-date list of all passwords.

5. Learn how to hire the right employees to start—Of course, the best way to avoid potential problems when employees leave is to do a better job keeping them around! That is easiest if you’ve done your due diligence during hiring.

For more tips on keeping your practice running smoothly, read our free guide, “8 Opportunities to Increase Office Efficiency.”