How to Keep Employees for 30+ Years
This week at Loretto, we recognize employee anniversaries, which will include individuals who have
worked here for several decades. It is certainly something worth celebrating – especially in a time when
it seems individuals don’t stay at one employer as long as they used to, and in a time when our industry
is experiencing a workforce shortage. I’m not exempt from struggles as a result of the healthcare
workforce shortage –
Regardless of what industry you’re in, you may be wondering – what makes them stick around so long? I
think it’s a combination of Maslow’s Hierarchy and my philosophy of pragmatic altruism (more about
that in a previous blog post here.).
Maslow’s Hierarchy is a motivational theory in psychology that presents the human needs in a pyramid.
The theory states that needs at the bottom of the pyramid must be satisfied before people can attend to
needs higher up. In priority order, the needs are physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and
self-actualization. Many employers see their role in the pyramid as “employment,” which is one of the
safety needs. However, the reality is, the environment and benefits you provide as an employer can help
or hurt your case in other areas of Maslow’s Hierarchy.
For example, at Loretto, some of our employees don’t have room in their budget to see a doctor when
they are sick, or they may not have transportation to get to the doctor – a health need that isn’t being
met. Poor health can hurt work performance – in the form of added stress or missed days of work. Not
only can health impact the individual employee, but it can also hurt business. Using my philosophy of
pragmatic altruism, we started offering on-site urgent care free of charge – this is one of several
initiatives we’ve developed in an attempt to help meet the needs of our employees.
Not everyone at Loretto needs the initiatives we’ve implemented. Those who have those needs met are
looking for needs that fall higher in the pyramid – friendship, family, sense of connection, respect, and
recognition, for example. I believe that the initiatives we’ve started exemplify the fact that we listen to
our employees and we care about the well being of them and their families. When we ask our
employees why they’ve stuck around so long, you’ll hear many of the same answers over and over
again: teamwork, work-family, being a part of something bigger than myself, support for leadership’s
vision; and last, but certainly not least, making an impact in the lives of our patients.
The employees that are celebrating milestones this week are here because they sense in a real way that
we care about them and want to help make their lives better – not just at work, but at home, too. There
may not be one magic quick fix to getting employees to stay, but if you take some time to open a
dialogue with your employees and learn about their needs, that’s a start. Next, brainstorm what you
might be able to do to help them meet those needs and implement initiatives that follow pragmatic
altruism. Those two together will give you a winning strategy for employee retention.