Leadership Insights: May 2021-  Leading High-Turnover Positions

Leadership Insights: May 2021- Leading High-Turnover Positions

The crisis is here and now: there are not enough lab techs, pharmacy techs, or certified nursing/medical assistants. These, and many other entry-level positions in healthcare are remaining open for months without any applicants in some cases. But even if you currently have all positions filled and your employees adore you, leading a team with these positions offers unique challenges. You will have turnover, so:

Embrace it. If you find yourself frustrated that someone you have trained is leaving, you are wasting precious energy. Expect that even if you do all the right things to make people love working with you, some positions are naturally a stepping stone to something else. Accept from day one that a big part of your role is to develop great employees who ultimately want to work for your organization, even if not in this job. Whether you are investing in the success of future pharmacists, nurses, administrators or in someone who will work the lab bench their whole career, your investment in each individual employee is worth it for the sake of all of our healthcare needs.


Plan for it in your work load and goals. Make recruitment and training time a bigger part of your plan for what you can accomplish in the year ahead. Do not plan your work around the idea that you will be operating at maximum capacity output the entire year unless you plan to fill in regularly (not really acceptable if you want to avoid burnout).


Engage your existing team to help you. Regularly invite your team to join you in promoting careers in your specialty. Maybe you have a couple of employees who like to talk with teens; help to arrange visits with local high school classes to generate interest in their work and careers. Include in employees’ job descriptions that one of their duties is orienting new employees, then teach them how to do that well. Make components of Preceptor Training a regular educational offering. Make sure that your orientation materials are clear and that competencies are very structured. Your team can help you with these organizational tasks. When onboarding is consistent and standard processes are in place, you won’t be reinventing the wheel each time you orient someone new.


Develop your skills as a teacher and mentor. Explore the topics of adult learning principles, career coaching, and the power of using inquiry to help people learn. Consider that you may be mentoring some employees in very basic workplace skills. This is one of those spots where it is easy to find yourself thinking, “They ought to know this stuff.” But if someone needs guidance on the basics, meet them where they are. Invest in their success even if you believe the working relationship will be temporary. You never know how your mentoring will impact someone, who impacts someone else, and who may turn into an amazing future hire in a different role.


Change up your stay interview questions. Keep the regular stay interview questions for those employees who see their position with you as more long term. But ask others with an eye to future recruiting: “What made you want to come to work for us? Is there anything we could have done to get your attention sooner/differently?” “What could we have made easier for you right away? What were you ready for sooner than we thought you were, and conversely, what could we have prepared you better for? And what would have helped that?”


Join your marketing department. Strengthen your interviewing skills. A well-conducted interview is one of the best ads your organization can place. Reframe your high-turnover in entry-level positions as a prime opportunity to promote your organization as a great place to work. 


Make your case with your manager. You may need to advocate for the time it will take to do all the above. Outline your case with:

  • Data from HR on your turnover rate, time to fill new positions, overtime or temp staff costs while positions remain open, numbers of employees who return to your organization after additional training (e.g., housekeepers who becomes pharmacy techs, or CNAs who become nurses and come back to work for your organization)
  • Specific efforts you and your team make to promote your career specialty
  • The status of your orientation, competency and onboarding practices, and your plans to streamline
  • A summary of input from your stay interview questions
  • What support from your manager would specifically look and sound like



Jo Anne Preston In Jo Anne's current role as Organizational and Workforce Development Senior Manager at the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC) her aim is to offer to leaders straightforward tools and inspire the courage to use them.
Leading The Way In Five Mintues A Day

Lead the Way in Five Minutes A Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team, by Jo Anne Preston is currently available for purchase.

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