Best Practices for Employee Retention, Fostering a Safe and Supportive Work Environment

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, employee turn-around has reached an all-time high and morale has reached new lows. More than ever employees are feeling burnt-out, unheard, and unfulfilled in their roles. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) included burnout in their 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. The WHO classifies burnout as a syndrome that results from chronic work stress, emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and feeling ineffective. Healthcare workers, for example, bear the burden of taking care of an increased patient load and lack of support from their leadership team. In order to boost staff morale and retain employees, leadership must support their team in a way that makes them feel heard and valued. 

Employee retention requires an intentional strategy from leaders within the organization. The first step is to identify the problem your team is facing. In order for your team to feel comfortable sharing their opinions without fear of being ignored or retaliation, leaders of all levels must foster a collaborative environment. And through honest and open discussions, leaders should listen to the concerns of their team members. With the honest feedback provided, it is essential that leaders not only communicate these ideas with the appropriate people, but keep their teams updated. This way, regardless of whether employees’ concerns are able to be addressed, they feel heard and understand that their leaders have heard their concerns and are making the effort to implement them. In the event that their concerns are not able to be fully addressed employees are also able to be given an explanation for their organization’s actions. 

The method of collecting employee feedback is another essential part of the process. For example, at medical institutions rounding is the process of visiting each patient a provider is responsible for. Patient rounding is a time for patients to express their concerns, give an update of their physical and mental condition, and ask questions. Rounding on staff can look like quick check-ups on staff or more formal one-on-one meetings. This is a time for employees to express what they like and do not like about their job, improvements that can be made to make their role easier, or suggest changes and upgrades that can be made. 

Hundreds of organizations around the world are members of the Schwartz Centre and conduct Schwartz Rounds. This is a method where clinical and non-clinical staff gather to discuss the psychosocial and emotional impact of caring for patients and their families. In 1994 attorney Ken Schwartz was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The compassion his care team exhibited according to him made  “the unbearable bearable” In 1955 the Schwartz Centre for Compassionate Healthcare was established and in 1996 the Schwartz Rounds program was created in response to the high rate of physician burnout and suicide. 

Joanna Motta, is a unit director of an orthopedic and bariatric surgery unit inside Magee Womens Hospital and a former nurse. Joanna manages a team of forty-six patient care technicians (PCT) and has implemented a system of employee rounding. The goal of which is to foster an environment of collaboration and shared purpose in their role. Joanna has created an environment where her team feels comfortable sharing casually their concerns, whether it be suggestions about the types of beds on the units to more personal concerns such as staffing and the need for a break.  She meets with each of her team members at least once a month to discuss satisfactions and dissatisfactions they are experiencing with their role, however, she has fostered such a comfortable environment for her team that there is often very little to share in these monthly chats. Previously Joanna has stated that from these one-on-one meetings with her team she has taken notes on the points discussed and filed that into a binder. But oftentimes the binder would sit untouched and it was difficult to keep track of each employee’s concerns. This also made it difficult for her and her leadership team to determine which concerns were shared by many team members and which concerns were personal and needed to be addressed on a personal basis. Joanna has partnered with goShadow to organize and document the “What Matters To You” of her employees. Now her team’s feedback is kept digitally in a link accessible by email. This allows her to touch base with each employee when it is convenient for them instead of a set time and place each month. 

Joanna expresses that now with this new qualitative collection method she is able to quickly chat with her team whenever this is a spare moment during their shift; she can easily organize concerns and update her team. Simple yet meaningful actions like this make profound impacts for retention and joy in work. For more tools on how to meaningfully engage with staff and patients, visit free resources and get in touch!


Hofmeyer, A., Taylor, R., & Kennedy, K. (2020, November). Fostering compassion and reducing burnout: How can health system leaders respond in the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond? Nurse education today. Retrieved June 10, 2022, from

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June 10, 2022