174462 Management Practices and Employee Retention: Reducing Turnover in Health and Welfare Organizations

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 8:30 AM

Theodore W. McDonald, PhD , Department of Community and Environmental Health, Boise State University, Boise, ID
Rakesh Mohan, MS , Office of Performance Evaluations, Idaho State Legislature, Boise, ID
Maureen E. Shea, BS , Office of Performance Evaluations, Idaho State Legislature, Boise, ID
Jared G. Tatro, MPH , Office of Performance Evaluations, Idaho State Legislature, Boise, ID
Employee turnover has emerged as a major problem for managers of many organizations in the human and social services sectors, including public health and welfare agencies. High rates of turnover, particularly in these sectors, tend to be associated with high training costs, disruptions in service delivery, client dissatisfaction, and overwork and burnout among workers who must shoulder burdens left by departed staff. A great deal of research exists showing that turnover is a particular problem for staff working in nursing, public health, and social work. A number of explanations for high rates of turnover for workers in these fields have been forwarded, and many of these explanations focus on characteristics of the jobs themselves, including high caseloads, high levels of risk and stress, long hours, and relatively poor pay. Some of these explanations have also focused on factors related to management and leadership, however, including levels of organizational support, trust, and communication. Because the costs associated with turnover are so high, it seems sensible to attempt to understand how health and welfare managers might be able to reduce turnover in their organizations.

The purpose of this presentation is to document some job- and management-related organizational factors that appear associated with employee turnover. Drawing from the results of a large-scale survey of staff and frontline supervisors from a state health and welfare agency, the presentation documents key factors believed to influence turnover, including pay, level of stress at work, workload, management, promotional opportunities, quality of supervision, and organizational change. These results are discussed in the context of viable efforts to remediate or reduce the magnitude of these factors in health and welfare agencies. The presenters argue that organizational efforts to retain quality employees may result in numerous benefits for managers, their organizations, and their clients.

Learning Objectives:
1. Recognize that turnover is an important problem in health and welfare workers, much as it is for nurses and emergency response personnel. 2. Assess the association between leadership practices and undesirable employee outcomes such as stress, burnout, absenteeism, and turnover. 3. Identify factors associated with turnover in a survey of large state health and welfare agency. 4. Articulate management practices and strategies that can reduce turnover and improve employee morale and job satisfaction.

Keywords: Social Services, Management

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted a good deal of research on management practices in social service agencies and I am not affiliated with any commercial entities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.