Poor diversity, equity culture has health system employees eyeing the door, Press Ganey says

Healthcare workers who are disappointed with their health system’s diversity and equity culture say they are more likely to depart for greener pastures, according to new Press Ganey survey data.

Among a sample of more than 410,000 employees, respondents who said their system does not value employees from different backgrounds were 4.6 times more likely than their peers to indicate they would accept an outside job offer.

Those respondents were also 4.3 times less likely to say that they intend to stick with their current employer for at least three years.

Press Ganey’s poll saw similar, albeit less pronounced, trends across other survey questions addressing an employer’s diversity and equity culture.

For example, negative responses to a question regarding equal treatment from a supervisor was tied to a 3.7x increase in an employee’s willingness to take an outside job offer and a 3.3x decrease in their intent to stay at an organization for at least three years. Negative responses to another question about whether employees have equal opportunities for promotion were tied to 3.5x and 3x increases in their willingness to depart for another offer or within three years, respectively.

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Across the respondents’ 118 health system employers, Press Ganey found that organizations with the lowest diversity and equity scores had twice as many staff members saying they were unlikely to stay for both retention prompts.

“Keeping employee engagement high amid record levels of burnout has been an ever-present conundrum since COVID-19 overwhelmed the healthcare industry,” Tejal Gandhi, M.D., Press Ganey’s chief safety and transformation officer, wrote in a blog post accompanying the survey data. “Workers who don’t feel well-represented and don’t have a supportive community are at even greater risk than their peers of isolation. Without a sense of psychological safety and empowerment to voice their concerns or contribute to decision-making, they’re more likely to leave, and the people who remain lose the value of their diverse perspectives.”

Press Ganey said diversity and equity were stronger indicators of intent to stay at an organization for security personnel, nurses and physicians as opposed to other ancillary staff.

The group also noted high levels of stress across the survey sample but found other responses tied to whether the employee likes their work or finds it meaningful to be a better indicator of retention.

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Press Ganey conducted its employee engagement survey from Jan. 1 to Sept. 29.

Gandhi said the data outline a pressing need for health systems to foster diversity, equity and inclusion across their organizations, particularly as the industry is staring down a widespread labor shortage that is limiting providers’ care capacity.

To do so, organizations would be well served in reviewing their talent management model—for instance, by standardizing the recruitment and interview processes, providing regular education on implicit bias, enforcing equitable promotion processes and encouraging transparent conversations about these areas between leadership and staff, she wrote.

“Health systems that fail to invest in diversity, equity and inclusion will be left behind,” Gandhi said in a statement. “Everyone is talking about ‘The Great Resignation’—now is the time to be proactively measuring and acting upon key predictors of turnover.”