To Keep Your Staff, Rethink Continuing Education: 3 Fresh Strategies


To Keep Your Staff, Rethink Continuing Education: 3 Fresh Strategies

The chronic staffing shortage in healthcare is a giant gorilla of a problem that is truly painful for everyone. Frequent turnover lowers morale, puts added work and stress on the rest of the staff, and costs the organization thousands.

Did you know that it typically costs around 30% of a person’s compensation to replace them? That means if your employee makes $60,000 annually, it costs the organization around $18,000 to bring in and train their replacement.

Tactics you may have considered or tried might include increasing compensation or offering flexible work schedules. Some healthcare organizations are even starting loan repayment programs and giving referral bonuses.

But what if the budget is strained and you can’t offer more financial incentives, yet you still need to attract and retain staff?

Consider using Continuing Education as a way to become an attractive employer that people never want to leave. If you haven’t thought about continuing education in this way before, it might seem like a head-scratcher.

“What are you talking about?” one might say.

Or “how’s forcing staff to do more training going to make them stay?” could be a question.

Stick with us here. The kind of training we’re talking about is truly valuable to the employee, and you can think of it in terms of professional development.


Lack of growth opportunities is one of the key reasons for employee turnover, and 87% of millennials say professional development is important in a job. Employees want to learn new skills and develop professionally as their careers progress. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a clear promotional path for each employee. But if a staff member is doing the same thing every day, with no sign of change or advancement, they’ll likely see that as a reason to move on.


Let’s take a look at home health as an example:

  • According to a recent industry survey, 85% of caregivers said they’re more likely to stay at their job if their employer offered an opportunity to further their education.
  • 88% said they would feel more satisfied at their job if they had chances to improve their skills with continuing education.
  • YET, 75% of caregivers say that their employer has never talked with them about additional training or education.


We’d say it’s time to consider how you can take advantage of continuing education for your organization to become known as an employer of choice. And remember that training and developing your employees is good for your organization, too! It’s truly a win-win situation that most employers aren’t taking full advantage of.


Below are three ways you can re-think continuing education to make your employees excited to stay at your organization.

1. Offer individualized professional development

One way to make a staff member feel truly valued is to learn about them as an individual and recognize their strengths. Of course, everyone has weaknesses as well. So what about this: give your staff members assessments beyond the typical quarterly or annual evaluation to find out what kind of training would be of most benefit to them. The assessments can be on soft skills, emotional intelligence, related competencies, or even a simple survey or interview to find out what the employee wants help learning.

Training for soft skills is especially helpful, as it can oftentimes be just as important (if not more!) than technical or hard skills training. And it will usually make staff members more effective in their work.

For example, through a personality test you could uncover that your employee is extremely rigid in how they approach problem solving, and could use training or coaching on how to be more adaptable in certain situations.

Or perhaps the focus should be on more concrete skills if in a one-on-one you find out your staff member is struggling to communicate efficiently on particular topics because of a language barrier. Highly targeted English lessons in special topic areas would be a huge benefit to your employee and your organization.


🔥 Hot tip: If you’re using a personality test or other assessment, be sure it is EEOC compliant to avoid tough legal challenges to your HR decisions.

2. Get creative with career advancement

Not every role is on track to become the hospital system CEO, true. Some roles don’t even have a vertical track at all in many organizations. But there’s always room for growth.

The point is to make your employees feel valued and to give them recognition.

Idea #1: Give employees opportunities to grow skills based on their interests. This could mean having a CNA do some data collection. Or it could mean training a staff member to be a point person for CMS surveys.

Whatever the interest or new duty may be, the point is to give an opportunity to help an employee explore and try new things. This will keep them engaged, make them feel valued, and it might even help your organization.

Idea #2: Turn your top employees into coaches. Identify your most enthusiastic staff members and see if they’d like to become a coach or mentor for new hires. Not only is the question flattering, but it also shows that you recognize the employee’s excellent work, AND it’s highly beneficial for their mentees.

While it’s not a promotion, it kind of feels like one. And your staff member is learning along the way, too.


🔥 Hot tip: make sure your staff member is excited about the new duties, not overburdened by them! It’s best if the specific new duties are suggested by the employee.

3. Give supervisors leadership training

Professional development and training isn’t just for individual contributors. A major factor in high turnover and low morale is poor leadership. Haven’t you or someone you know quit a job because of a bad boss? Address this potential problem now by investing in leadership development.

As any good leader knows, being an effective leader in the workplace isn’t something you’re born with. Leaders need training on how to deal with a wide range of challenges. Give your leaders the support they need with continuing education to help them be better bosses. Excellent leaders tend to have more satisfied employees who are loyal to the organization and want to stay.

Remember: Get staff buy-in!

To make the most of the employee retention benefit that comes with professional development, it’s important to take the pulse of staff. Survey to ask what they want out of training and professional development. Have managers talk to their employees in one-on-one sessions to understand specific needs or desires, so that when training is offered, it will be well-received by staff.

After all, healthcare professionals are already stressed, overwhelmed, and facing burnout. This shouldn’t be an added drudgery for them, but rather a chance to feel like a real contributor to the organization in special ways.

If you need help implementing a continuing education program for your organization — in a way that’s easy, efficient, and doesn’t add work for you — check out what MedTrainer can do. We offer an automated Learning Management System (in addition to our compliance and credentialing solutions) that makes administering and completing training easier than ever before. Take a few minutes to learn more and get on the path to more satisfied, loyal employees.