Are you one of the many healthcare organizations floundering to find and keep talented EHR specialists? All Is not lost – there are some important actions you can take now for big benefits later.
Spending millions (or billions) of dollars on an integrated EHR system implementation? You may have tons of staff buzzing around during the implementation phase – training, optimizing, troubleshooting, answering questions – and then, all of the sudden, it’s a ghost town. Post-implementation, no matter how awesome your new EHR system is, you will need knowledgeable staff to onboard, update, problem-solve, and customize. Always.
Have you thought about how to manage this investment in the long term with the right experienced staff in place?
Indeed currently has 793 jobs posted for EPIC EHR Specialists. There is a bit of competition for these folks, you see. How will you not only find the ones you need but keep them?
Tips for Recruitment and Retention
- Plan Ahead. Start looking for help as soon as your implementation is scheduled. The average time to fill an open position is 42 days. IT specialist positions can be longer. Don’t wait – spend time now figuring out how many people you need with what skills, and then factor in a bit more for the first couple of years, especially.
- Build recruitment, retention, and staffing expenses into your EHR implementation budget. To do this effectively, you will need to investigate the cost to fill metrics and current salaries for your area and organization, any advertising and marketing costs, onboarding costs, and any sign-on bonuses or performance bonuses offered. It is normal for EHR maintenance costs to be higher in the first year after implementation, and building and retaining the right team can be part of that.
- Realize that an EHR implementation is very stressful for your existing employees – you need to retain them. To come up with a strategy – just ask them what they want and need! Also, you MUST have this conversation sooner rather than later – before they have made up their minds to leave. Once the rumor mill starts, it may be too late. Realize that lateral moves are not a big deal for the current generation, and most employees are always keeping their eyes open for opportunities. Before it comes knocking, you need to have tough conversations. Sometimes it’s that simple. Be transparent. Another key concept – retention IS recruitment. Happy employees recommend the department as a good place to work. They say good things. For an applicant, the best workplace climate barometer is how the current employees feel about their job. Another tip – most employees will check Glassdoor or a similar site before applying. Disgruntled employees leaving on bad terms can do a lot of future damage.
- Offer the perks that mean the most to candidates. We’re talking flexible scheduling, work-from-home days, continuing education and training opportunities, career ladders and advancement, and wellness incentives. In a post-pandemic world, money still matters to people – but maybe not quite as much. People value family and their time and seek to maintain a balance. Life is too short to work long hours in a cubicle with no incentives. There is also the old adage that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”. For the most part, this might still be true. Invest in managers with good leadership skills and track records of building successful teams. Although they may appear to deliver, beware of managers who expect employees to be “always on” – answering emails at 10 pm. This type of behavior is rampant in IT and will drive good people away to find a better balance.
- Don’t let a bad apple bring the team down. Realize that warm bodies or “quiet quitters” are a form of poison to the rest of the team who is picking up the slack. For low-performers, managers will need to have the opposite of a recruitment conversation – it needs to be a “get better or get out” conversation. Low performance can come in a variety of flavors – it can be plain old laziness, gossiping and causing disruptions in the team, taking credit where it isn’t due, or a bad case of burnout. Some employees have the insight to realize when they are unhappy and need to move on, but some hang on and just make everyone else miserable. When high performers see this behavior being condoned, it demotivates them and may cause them to look for greener pastures.
No doubt the employment climate favors the jobseeker now, but there are still talented staff to be had. Create a workplace environment that speaks for itself and develop a forward-looking recruitment plan for additional resources. Develop flexible work options that foster a healthy balance and make sure pay is competitive for the industry – not just the area. IT professionals are not bound by location anymore with remote positions. Happy hunting!