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7 Tips for Retaining Epic EHR Support Staff

EHR ATE Implementation and Support

An EPIC go-live event is a daunting task – requiring a large team of trained talent that are willing to put in the hours to make it happen. Organizations are finding that after the initial launch, retaining that team for the long haul is proving difficult.

Understand the Trends

Both the nature of work and the expectations associated with work have changed significantly over the past decade. Two overarching trends influence the difficulty in retention that employers are experiencing.

Many terms float around these days – “The Great Resignation,” “The Big Quit,” and “The Great Reshuffle.” All of them refer to a general dissatisfaction among the workforce, leading workers to react to burnout and move towards a new work culture. Many of these workers felt disillusioned during the pandemic and sought something different during this time. Others worked from home during stay-at-home orders and then found that the balance it provided was something they did not want to give up.

Sticking with one employer for the majority of a working career used to be the norm and an admirable accomplishment. Now – not so much. Job hopping is no longer the employee red flag that it used to be. The new generation of professionals finds that by switching jobs rather frequently they are better able to “move up the ladder,” learn more about their industry, expand their network of contacts, and increase pay faster than they would have with annual raises at one place.

So – who is the typical job hopper? Most of them are between 20 and 34 years old, are usually employed in the world of technology, and prefer to work on a project basis rather than being linked to a company. In light of that information, employers must seek to retain their EPIC teams with smart strategies that make staying put more attractive.

Take Action

1.    Hire for Long-Term Fit.

Carefully screen for cultural fit and attitude, in addition to EPIC skills. Besides these important technical skills, it is important to assess for desired behavioral qualities and whether the candidate is likely to be motivated to live and work in your community. Previous job history and the candidate’s career goals are also important clues.

2.    Offer Fair Market Pay.

Salaries are volatile in today’s market – and quite different in separate regions of the country. It is important to re-evaluate salaries at least annually, preferably more often. Organizations that keep pace with the competition will find themselves with better retention – and without the added expense of recruiting and replacing staff as they leave.

3.    Offer Retention Bonuses.

Rewarding staff for loyalty and introducing those strategies upfront encourages staff to consider staying after the EPIC implementation. Bonuses also convey to staff that the company values them as employees and that they are not easily replaceable. Another idea is to tie periodic bonuses to certain strategic goals and metrics that drive the organization forward and foster employee engagement.

4.    Provide Training Opportunities.

Not all rewards are monetary. Sending team members for additional Epic certifications shows a good faith investment and makes them more valuable employees. For team members that are likely to stay, this shows them that the organization is willing to invest in their success. Cross-training employees for new responsibilities also presents a challenge for employees and keeps them engaged, while making the overall team more agile.

5.    Support Work-Life Balance.

Work-from-home opportunities are important to IT workers. For some, this type of flexibility may be one reason they entered the field. In a competitive employment market, organizations without this type of opportunity will find themselves losing out on good hires. If work-from-home is not possible for all workers, consider flexible hours, hybrid models, and relaxed work environments that promote balance.

6.    Outline the Long-Term Vision.

Employees who consider themselves temporary don’t bother to learn about the company culture or get as involved in company activities. They also don’t bother to understand the mission and vision, and they do not engage with others as much. To get employees thinking about the big picture from the beginning, outline the career path and long-term strategy of the IT department. Talk about future projects and goals and how they can help attain those. A leader who can share the vision and get the team excited about the future will retain more staff.

7.    Promote from Within.

Reward star performers with promotions, including salary increases and increasing levels of responsibility. Employees who are driven to perform and seek reward for that will thrive in a competitive environment with fair promotion opportunities. Others who see this happening will become more engaged in their work when they see tangible rewards and recognition for their efforts.

Focus on healthcare has been on physician and nursing shortages for a long time, however other types of shortages have very real consequences. Without Epic support and an IT presence, healthcare processes cannot flow as normal, ending in possible negative patient outcomes, as well as lost revenue to the organization.

“If you haven’t done your homework to retain your talent, you’re taking your eye off the ball. The Epic and IT teams are your new hospital system. They are going to be the single biggest differentiator in healthcare over the next five years.” -David Keith Butler, MD, former VP, Epic Optimization at Sutter Health

If your company would like help solidifying your EHR optimization team, please reach out, and see how Healthrise can help.