Even before the pandemic, pathology and histology labs have struggled with talent retention.
Turnover is an inevitable aspect of every business. However, it tends to hit the healthcare industry particularly hard. And outside of losing your labor, the costs can add up: Recruitment, training, and unused vacation payout are just a few factors negatively affecting your bottom line.
In March of 2020, the National Library of Medicine published a study that examined the three-year average turnover rates for all medical laboratory staff—and the results were staggering. According to their data, the median three-year average turnover rate for all lab staff was 16.2%.
Yes, high turnover rates in the healthcare industry are to be expected — and often, external forces like sluggish job markets and a decrease in patient need make losing employees unavoidable. However, there are some internal reasons that could be contributing to your lab professionals leaving your facility. Knowing these factors can help you identify and resolve potential disruptions before an employee leaves.
If you find your medical lab struggling with abnormally high turnover rates, following these tips may help:
Tip #1 - Listen to your employees
Life in the lab is fast paced and constantly changing. As a lab leader, take advantage of opportunities to interact with your team of pathologists’ assistants and histotechs.
What do your current pathologists' assistants and histotechs want out of their job? What are their thoughts on their work? How does the lab equipment stack up to other environments they've worked in? What processes and procedures do they find effective — which do they feel could be improved upon? A paycheck is certainly part of it, but what are their long-term goals?
One of the best ways to keep lab professionals engaged is to run routine pulse checks with pathologists’ assistants and histotechs. One-on-ones with individual staff members and even brief group meetings can help everyone feel as if they are heard.
Tip #2 - Offer competitive salaries
As we’ve already mentioned, salary isn’t everything; however, proper compensation is important to PAs and HT/HTLs at every career phase. Knowing industry-standard wages when making a hire can work for your lab seeking long-term employees.
At Nicklas Medical Staffing, our recruiting team works with labs to ensure they have the information that includes current average salary for PAs and histotechs with every level of experience. Our founder is a former practicing pathologists' assistant, which means we have extensive insight networking to recruit talent and assisting in the negotiation process helping labs to make a competitive offer to lab professionals.
Tip #3 - More employee recognition
Beyond salary, a little recognition really can go a long way. A recent study from Gallup, a workplace consulting firm, identified employee recognition as one of the top ways labs can retain their talent.
Recognition can come in a variety of forms. Outside of the more apparent strategies like promotions or pay raises, Gallup's respondents reported finding value in:
Private positive feedback from a coworker or customer
Public recognition or acknowledgment (think awards or certificates)
And where the recognition comes from also plays a role in employee satisfaction. Per the survey, the most memorable recognition came from:
An employee's manager (28%)
A high-level leader or CEO (24%)
An employee's peers (9%)
Tip #4 - Employee engagement
Recognition is a great first step to developing a thriving workplace culture — but alone, it isn't enough. From the National Library of Medicine study mentioned earlier, researchers found that "laboratories that developed and communicated clear career paths to their employees and that funded external laboratory continuing education activities had significantly lower 3-year average turnover rates than laboratories that did not implement these strategies."
Employees want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Chances are, you already have a foundation for a positive work culture that keeps your PAs and histotechs connected — build on that! Get creative and go beyond the occasional team pizza party to invest in employee development that offers your lab professionals a clear path in career advancement.
Tip #5 (and it's a big one) - Be aware of burnout
We're not going to sugarcoat it—healthcare is a tough industry to work in, no matter what the current job market.
It's demanding, all-consuming work — and everyone has her breaking point. This is especially true with the lingering effects of COVID-19. Healthcare managers are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their people feeling comfortable.
A recent survey published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology revealed some concerning statistics. Of the lab professionals surveyed:
53.4% reported feeling a lot of stress. Stress was commonly attributed to workload or call duties.
85.3% of lab professionals reported struggling with burnout at some point, and almost 50% were currently dealing with it.
Due to burnout, respondents reported that they had considered changing careers, getting a career in a different lab, seeking employment in a related field, or retiring.
Keeping your facility well staffed can play a significant role in reducing burnout throughout your operations. At Nicklas Medical Staffing, we work with all lab types to develop customized staffing strategies to cover both expected and unexpected personnel gaps to help eliminate the threat of burnout.
Is Your Pathology/Histology Lab Struggling With High Turnover?
Nicklas Medical Staffing helps medical labs find competent, capable, and reliable pathology and histology lab professionals. Our flexible lab staffing solutions can help you find the right match quickly to help reduce turnover and keep your operations running smoothly.
At Nicklas, we aren't just lab staffing experts—we're experienced lab professionals, and we know what you're going through because we've been there ourselves. Contact us today to get to the bottom of your lab's turnover issues.