Retaining Your Staff

HarringtonIn the December “Soapbox,” several recruiting options were discussed and mention was made of “business rules” to retain your staff.

The first business rule is, do you and the employer want to retain this employee? Just because the person has been with you for a period of time does not always mean that his or her skills meet your present requirements, or that this person needs to move into different technology areas. Look very carefully at both the person and position before making a counter-offer.

The second business rule is not to overpay. This was widely used in the recent dot.bomb craze where people were paid several times their actual worth so they wouldn’t go to a competitor. Check any résumé posting service now and you will see these “dot.bombers” still asking for six-figure salaries on mid-five-figure abilities. The only time I ever saw overpaying benefit the group leader was when Massachusetts passed a law stating that the local Chief of Police must be paid twice the highest salary of any other department member.

The third business rule is to know the market rates for your skill requirements. Your personnel department should be able to help you here, but because getting information on biomeds is not easy, they probably will say “no data available.” While the salary Pulse Check in the December 24×7 is a good place to start, remember that it is regional data you need and data in large surveys may be slanted towards more experienced people. Also, trends can go down as well as up in salaries.

The fourth and most important business rule is to know and respect your employees and/or employer. Respect is a two-way street. The worker must respect the organization and the organization must respect the worker. Most of us have been treated badly in some job, be it gender, special needs, ethnic, race or other bias. Most commonly, it is lack of respect for our abilities that gets us looking for another position the quickest. We can generally put up much longer with petty bias than we can with doubt about our technical ability.

Too many organizations do not actively discourage bias in their workers. That slowly affects everyone in the organization. To illustrate the point, a hospital had a culture and a contract allowing nursing management to basically run the hospital. If you got on their wrong side, your space was reduced, your staff reduced and your life became miserable. This hospital went through over 20 biomeds and clinical engineers in three years before someone complained. The complaints came from other departments that were using the biomed department and could not get services on a timely basis because nursing was consuming 90 percent of the biomeds working evenings and nights. The biomeds were leaving about as fast as they were hired and overall quality of the staff dropped. All this because one group did not treat the other with respect. Yes, I admit that I have said, “The two most dangerous beings in the world are a monkey with a machine gun and a nurse with a screwdriver.” That was before I became “politically correct.”

You respect your employees by encouraging them to gain in knowledge and ability; you respect your employer by doing your best every day in every situation. You respect your employees by treating them as adults, providing them with goals and objectives that require them to “reach” and most important, by saying, “Thank you, good job.” You respect your employer by supporting its goals, by using its services or products when there is a choice, but most important, by performing your tasks to the best of your abilities so that the customers and clients of your employer keep coming back and saying they were treated well.

While money will retain some people, respect will retain many more and make your life easier. We used to joke that we were the Rodney Dangerfields of the medical field, but that is changing. As we give more respect to our profession we get more, and we will remain longer in our jobs.

Veteran educator/clinical engineer/technology manager and 24×7 contributing editor David Harrington is the Director of Special Projects for Technology in Medicine, Inc. of Holliston, Mass.