Cerkl Broadcast
Cerkl Broadcast

How to Improve Employee Retention in Healthcare

It’s vital to focus on employee retention in healthcare if your facility has high staff turnover rates. We can help you do it the right way.
Written by: Penny Swift
Healthcare communications
Published: July 9, 2024
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The healthcare field has some of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States. There are more than 50 occupations recognized in the field. They vary tremendously in terms of skills and formal education required. In general terms, they range from healthcare practitioners like physicians, registered nurses, and pharmacists to people who provide healthcare support, including nursing assistants and home health aides.

Not only do registered nurses hold the top spot, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 6% from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. With employment figures standing at 3,172,500 in 2022, the BLS projects that employment figures will reach 3,349,900 by 2032.  

An article on the BLS website, Healthcare Occupations: Characteristics of the Employed by BLA economist, Sean Smith and Andrew Blank states that in 2022, 14.7 million people aged 16 and older were employed in healthcare occupations. The total number accounted for 9.3% of total employment, with more than one out of every healthcare worker being a registered nurse.

But there is a bigger picture. 

Recruitment and Staffing Challenges

The Nursing Solutions Inc. (NSI) 2024 NSI Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report reveals that the average registered nurse (RN) vacancy rate was 9.9% in the U.S. Even though these stats were 5.8% lower than the previous year, close to half (47.8%) of hospitals reported a vacancy rate that was greater than 10%. 

hospital recruitment and staffing challenges

The report states that the RN Recruitment Difficulty Index decreased over nine days to an average of 86 days. This is a metric that is used to measure the level of difficulty in recruiting and hiring employees, particularly in the healthcare industry. In essence, it takes approximately three months to recruit an experienced RN, with medical-surgical and surgical services presenting the greatest challenges.

“As a leading indicator of future organizational pressure, hospitals must understand and trend turnover. The value hospitals place on their people will have a direct correlation to their commitment, confidence, and engagement. Enhancing culture and building programs to reinforce these values is critical to driving retention. Focus on strategies that enhance culture and eliminate those that do not.”


McKinsey & Company addressed some of the challenges in Nursing in 2023: How hospitals are confronting shortages. They reported that the intent to leave jobs was higher for registered inpatient RNs. A pulse survey saw their intent to leave rise from 35% in the fall of 2022 to more than 40% in March 2023.  

Factors Affecting Healthcare Employee Retention

In November 2022, the National Center for Health Workforce published an analysis of nurse workforce projections from 2020 to 2035. It stated there was a projected shortage of 78,610 RNs for 2025 and that the nursing shortage was expected to continue into the next decade. 

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) research released in 2023, nearly 900,000 of 4.5 million registered nurses in the U.S. intend to leave the workforce by 2027. This represents almost one-fifth of the total number of RNs in the United States. For this reason, it is essential to reverse the trend.

Stress and burnout levels are a major problem. McKinsey & Company found that:

  • Meaningful work, caring and trusting colleagues, and flexible schedules are key factors making it likely nurses would stay in their current positions.
  • Not being valued, inadequate compensation, a lack of work-life balance, and an unmanageable workload contribute directly to them leaving jobs. 

And there are many other factors as well. Ultimately, “Retaining the current nursing workforce while looking ahead to the longer-term talent pipeline will be critical to meeting the projected shortfall in registered nurses.

communication improves employee retention in healthcare

How to Improve Retention in Healthcare with Efficient Communications

Functional and personal internal communication is an investment that can support employees, aid better management, and provide resources. There are enormous benefits of employee engagement, not just between employees and their superiors, but also between colleagues. 

However, with the increase in traveling care and round-the-clock care, many nurses want ways to connect with their team even when they’re not in the same place. The community aspect of internal communication increases morale and engagement, which can affect nurse retention positively, reducing employee turnover. But it’s not always possible in real-time, which is where the value of asynchronous communication kicks in. 

How St. Elizabeth improved their employee retention and engagement

Employee Engagement Benefits

When employers provide opportunities for meaningful communication and show that they value employee input, healthcare employees are less likely to seek work elsewhere. It builds a positive environment that fosters open communication and trust. Encouraging open communication increases awareness and engagement. 

Building a sense of community in the healthcare industry through internal communications also matters. A Frontiers in Public Health paper published in 2024 states that “Community engagement is key in health communication interventions that seek to incorporate community voices in their planning and implementation.” For example, a two-year Community Benefits Health Program aims to “encourage the entire community to support women in adopting improved maternal health and breastfeeding behaviors and swiftly change community-wide social norms, by incentivizing behavior change. The same approach can be successful on a smaller scale, within a health facility. 

An increasing number of healthcare organizations are taking a community-focused approach and successfully reaching their target audience, by segmenting it. They often send email blasts and content sharing news of local team wins, announcements, events, and more — all of which would be “need to know” information. With technology-driven personalization, they also receive the content that they want to know about. They are building a sense of belonging as a nurse while being informative.

Clear and concise healthcare communication channels between professionals can improve coordination and collaboration. So, healthcare organizations should prioritize effective communication strategies that promote employee engagement and efficient, personal communication channels. Ultimately, improved communication among healthcare professionals typically leads to greater employee engagement, higher job satisfaction, and better nurse retention rates.

How to Improve Employee Retention in Healthcare

Asynchronous Healthcare Communications

Asynchronous communications involves sending a message that doesn’t require an immediate response from the recipient. It’s flexible and convenient, allowing individuals to respond at their own pace and on their own schedule.

While synchronous communication is vital for emergencies and building rapport with patients, asynchronous messaging can play a vital role. For example, communicating via email, secure chats, mobile apps, and platforms like Slack can free up nurses for patient care by letting them address non-urgent things later. 

In healthcare, verbal communication has been identified as the main communication channel, but it is disruptive in nature. Especially when clinical teams get larger, the number of possible conversations increases significantly. The reality is that when healthcare professionals are constantly interrupted by verbal communication, they have to constantly stop what they are doing, deal with the interruption, and then go back to their initial tasks. 

However, nurses and doctors are rarely at their desks checking their email. Instead, they are on their feet, which means that they don’t have the time to see even high-quality communication if it’s in an email. That’s why it’s important to consider using a mobile app communication that enables the workforce to access asynchronous, personalized content directly. This streamlines healthcare communications and can reduce inefficiencies and increase effective collaboration. Nurses and healthcare workers can deliver better care and outcomes while avoiding interruption and irrelevant information, ensuring critical information is delivered in real time.

mobile app enables access to deskless workers

A good mobile app can generate content for people based on different healthcare specializations, different interests, different locations, and more. Nurses can engage in technology-based communications that they care about and have an interest in because communication is personalized. By choosing the right healthcare-specific topics, you can also improve engagement through click-thru and open rates. 

Ways to Support Employee Retention in Healthcare

Here’s how you can leverage key communication tools to boost employee engagement and reduce turnover:

  • Personalized email blasts: These are crucial for time-sensitive updates, especially during emergencies or critical situations. They ensure everyone is on the same page and can react quickly.
  • Employee newsletters: Regular newsletters keep staff informed about important news, upcoming events, and achievements of their colleagues. This fosters a sense of community and belonging, which can boost morale and engagement. Newsletters can also be used to highlight employee stories and contributions, which can be very motivating.
  • Automated news summaries: Instead of a newsletter that aims to keep all employees informed, an automated news summary curates and delivers a personalized summary of company news to employees.
  • Employee communication apps: Healthcare workers are often on the go and may not have access to traditional communication channels like desktops. Employee communication apps bridge this gap, allowing for instant updates, shift swaps, and quick questions, and fostering a sense of connection, even for those who aren’t physically present.

There are many other strategies to consider for improved employee retention including:

  • Recognition and reward programs: Publicly acknowledging and rewarding employee achievements is a powerful way to show appreciation and boost morale.
  • Flexible work arrangements: Offering flexible scheduling, job-sharing, or remote work options can significantly improve work-life balance and reduce burnout, especially for those with demanding personal schedules.
  • Professional development opportunities: Investing in your employees’ growth through continuing education programs and skill development workshops demonstrates your commitment to their success and keeps them engaged in their careers.

By combining effective communication tools with a focus on employee well-being and growth, healthcare organizations can create a positive work environment that fosters loyalty and reduces turnover.

How Cerkl Broadcast Can Help Your Healthcare Organization

There are multiple ways that Cerkl Broadcast can help to improve employee retention in your organization — including mobile apps. We know how tough it can be to find great employees. We also recognize the challenges of keeping employees involved so they don’t want to leave. 

Broadcast Email Blasts, or Eblasts, provide the very best way to create email comms with impact. And they are super-easy to create, making them ideal for sharing information quickly and efficiently. 

We provided a link earlier in this post to a video that illustrates the success St. Elizabeth Hospital experienced after partnering with Cerkl. The key for them was breaking down silos in a particularly diverse workforce and reaching deskless healthcare workers effectively. This solution was MyNews, which offers features designed to ensure maximum reach, the highest possible employee engagement, and all-important personalization. 

MyNews also tells users who is engaged and why. You don’t have to guess what you’ve done right. It also enables you to track engagement and, at the same time, see where there are potential areas of the company that may be at risk. Importantly, the solutions MyNews provides are tailored to your specific industry — in this case, healthcare. 

Another great feature of Broadcast is News Digest, which operates as an automated news summary. Tailored, personalized content for each employee is powered by AI based on the interest, delivery times, and frequency employees select. It takes the idea of a conventional newsletter to another level. 

What’s Next?

We’ve compiled more than 4.5 million data points from Cerkl’s healthcare clients to provide you with the most successful content, statistics, and audits you need to make your internal healthcare communications thrive. Get useful insights on how to increase employee retention, and save your healthcare organization from the labor shortage.


Why is employee retention important in healthcare?

High employee turnover in the industry disrupts the continuity of patient care, increases training costs, and reduces overall staff morale. Experienced staff provide better care, improve patient outcomes, and foster a more positive work environment.

How to increase retention rate in healthcare?

Invest in creating a supportive work environment with opportunities for growth and development. Offer competitive compensation and benefits packages, and implement flexible scheduling options to reduce burnout. Recognize and reward employee achievements to foster a sense of value and belonging and make them want to stick around. It’s the best way to decrease employee turnover.

What are the three most important factors for employee retention?

1. Supportive work environment: Feeling valued, respected, and supported by colleagues and managers is crucial.
2. Work-life balance: Providing flexible schedules and addressing burnout helps employees maintain a healthy balance.
3. Growth opportunities: Offering career development options and encouraging skill advancement keeps employees engaged and motivated.

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