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Five reasons why staff hate their jobs and look for greener pastures

Turnover should be at the top of every manager’s worry list.

Yet it isn’t because managers don’t realize how expensive it is, says Jennifer Loftus, national director of Astron Solutions, a human resource and compensation consulting firm in New York City.

“They think it’s just a matter of being behind the eight ball for a couple of weeks.” It’s far more than that.

Even on the conservative side, the cost of finding a replacement plus the loss of productivity while the new staffer learns the job comes to about 50% of the salary. So if Staffer Leaving makes $40,000, the cost of hiring a replacement will be close to $20,000.

Loftus’s company has conducted exit interviews for professional service organizations across the country to find out why people quit. Here she gives the results of more than 10,000 responses.

Reason 1: I’m bored; I want a new kind of job

Many employees leave because they want a career change. And they want the change because they feel stalled out where they are. The thinking is “this is all I do, so I need to find a new career.”

Once somebody decides to make such a move, that’s it. No employer can stop it.

However, it is possible to prevent the boredom that causes people to want to move. That’s done by staying abreast of each person’s career satisfaction, and that’s

done by taking what she terms a “pulse check” of staff. Make it part of each review. Ask Are you satisfied with your job? What are some different work activities you’d like to explore? What would you like to do with your job in the upcoming year?

It’s often possible to give a top staffer enough growth opportunity to keep the job interesting.

Reason 2: I never hear one good word

People leave too when there’s no recognition for their work. “They say management didn’t spend enough time listening to them and didn’t make them feel special.”

Recognition has to meet two criteria.

One is frequency. Employees need to be recognized more than once a year, Loftus says, particularly Generation X (born 1965-1981) and Generation Y (born 1981-1999). “They want constant feedback and recognition.”

The other criterion is the type of recognition. It has to be important to staff. If leaving two hours early on Friday is important to them, they’ll appreciate it. If not, it’s no recognition at all.

What people appreciate most, she says, is a pay raise. But from there, it’s an open book. There can be an employee-of-the-month award or an award for outstanding customer service. There can be plaques, cash awards, and special parking places.

Loftus advises drawing up a list of all the recognitions the office gives out and asking everybody “what interests you about this one?” and “would it be upsetting if we took it away?”

The answers are often surprising. One of her client offices, for example, decided to end the company picnics, thinking no one would care. But when the manager asked the employees, they said they liked the picnic and were insulted that the employer wanted to end it.

Also ask staff for recommendations. Phrase the question as “what type of recognition excites and motivates you?”

Reason 3: I can’t work with her another day

Another leaving prompter is bad relations with coworkers, particularly an environment where employees get bullied by their peers.

To keep the office from falling into that culture, emphasize the importance of treating everybody—physicians, patients, and staff—with honor.

Draw up a code of conduct that explains the necessity of courtesy, respect, and teamwork. It might say, for example, “We are a patient-centered organization, and to achieve our goals and meet the expectations of our patients, we will work together as a team and support one another.” That prohibits all the behaviors people don’t want to see at work—everything from disrespect to rudeness to drinking on the job.

Reason 4: I need less/more overtime

Work hours, too, are a source of dissatisfaction.

Some people complain they have to work too much overtime while others say they don’t get enough hours. Still others complain of favoritism in the overtime scheduling.

Loftus advises taking an honest look at the last three months to find out who has worked what hours and how many hours total.

If one staffer is working overtime substantially more than everybody else, and if other staff can do the work and want the extra hours, even up the apportionment and make sure the overtime goes to the staff who want it instead of to those who don’t.

Reason 5: I can make $100 more over there

Not surprisingly, employees leave for better pay. The most accurate way to find out if the salaries are in line with other medical offices is to review salary surveys.

The most detailed surveys aren’t free. They can range from hundreds of dollars to several thousand dollars. However, good information is also available at no charge.

One source is Enter the position title and the office’s zip code, and salary averages appear.

Another is the United States Department of Labor at And along with that is the DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics at

Or Google the position and office location and many options appear.

The most telling indicator of inadequate salaries, however, is turnover. “Keep an eye on it and listen to what employees say about why they are leaving,” says Loftus. If it’s money, the salaries aren’t set right.

What’s considered an acceptable turnover rate?

In some areas such as the hospitality industry, it’s not uncommon to have a rate of anywhere between 50% and 100%, Loftus says.

But in a professional office such as a medical practice, the rate should be no more than 15% to 20%. Thus, if the office is at 2%, it’s doing well; if it’s at 50%, salaries are probably too low.

Editor’s picks:

How to conduct fair and effective performance reviews

Is lack of feedback and communication leaving your employees unfulfilled?

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