What Motivates Healthcare Workers To Stay or Quit?

August 21, 2019

Think about all the time, effort and consideration that you put into sourcing and recruiting your top healthcare employees. Not only do you have to make sure your company’s career page or website and online job ads are up to date and attractive to candidates, you also have to review and filter a stack of resumes, conduct interviews, investigate candidates’ backgrounds and assess on a case by case basis how their skills and talents might integrate with the rest of your workforce. On top of that, you may need to actively source candidates and spend time with fellow members of the organization to evaluate whether the candidate(s) you find are a good fit.

With so much invested into recruiting good healthcare employees, it would be a huge mistake to ignore the basics on how to retain them. To help preserve the valuable team that you’ve helped to build at your organization, you should know (and always remember!) what truly motivates healthcare workers to stay put or quit their jobs so that you can make better business decisions regarding your talent.

Here are the top things that motivate healthcare workers to stay or quit their jobs, which can hugely impact both your retention and recruiting efforts:


Feeling Valued

Employees that feel as though their talents and abilities are valued will naturally be more motivated to stay in your employee than if they think their efforts are being wasted. If your team regularly provides feedback (both positive and negative) to workers, such as during performance review, that’s a good start. You can also ask patients to provide praise or criticism to recognize the good work your employees do.

Of course, part of feeling valued means receiving a suitable level of compensation. Paying healthcare workers a competitive salary is not the only factor that will keep them (overall job satisfaction being crucial here), but it does make a difference.

Workplace Conditions

The working environment is another important factor in motivating healthcare workers to remain on the job or to seek a better opportunity elsewhere.

If your workplace has any deficiencies, it would be wise to correct them as soon as possible: According to a report in Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs, “An unsafe health facility environment such as unsuitable furniture, poorly designed workstations, lack of ventilation, excessive noise, inappropriate lighting, poor supervisor support, poor work space, poor communication, poor fire safety measures for emergencies, and lack of personal protective equipment, can adversely affect the productivity of the employee.”

A poorly planned work environment can reduce employee morale and add undue stress to what’s already a stressful environment (providing care to ailing patients), resulting in employees losing motivation to do well. Diminished job satisfaction is a real danger if your facilities are not designed with worker satisfaction, and of course patient safety, top of mind.

Making a Difference in Patients’ Lives

Healthcare workers are motivated to improve their patients’ conditions, which can be quite enriching while providing a high level of job satisfaction. When workers are hampered by obstacles at work that get in the way of treating patients, they may grow frustrated and seek a position elsewhere.

It would be a good idea to examine your healthcare organization’s culture to see how empowered you make workers feel. Do they have to spend an inordinate time on paperwork that you could easily streamline? Are your professionals growing frustrated because they are given less time to work with each patient and less means to give the care that they think their patients deserve? That’s something you ought to keep a close eye on.

Meaningful (and reasonable) work

This is a big one, especially among nurses but also for physicians, medical assistants and other healthcare professionals; your healthcare employees may begin to feel disengaged and even spiteful if they’re made to repeatedly take on menial tasks that aren’t in their job description or if they are constantly overworked. Healthcare working environments are already filled with a lot of big and small individual tasks, so if a lot of those tasks feel meaningless and unreasonable…a smart and motivated employee will want to move on fast.


Given that healthcare labor needs across pretty much all healthcare job roles are going to skyrocket in the next decade (amounting to a serious ongoing healthcare workforce crisis), it’s more important than ever to give your time and energy to employee retention and to understanding what makes healthcare employees stay at their jobs. This might involve giving your company culture a closer examination to see what it’s really like as an employee in your company, or checking in with individual employees on a more frequent basis to get their honest feedback about working at your company so that you can use their feedback to improve both recruiting and retention efforts across the company.


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Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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