HIMSS: The intangibles of HIT employee retention

By David S. Finn
09:02 AM
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There is clearly no doubt that healthcare and IT jobs are the fastest-growing in the market.  When you combine those categories into health IT jobs, fastest-growing actually means shortage – for managers that means hard-to-find and hard-to-keep good people.

How is it that some leaders seem to have a revolving door, and some are able to keep employees over an entire career?

The people will vary, but leaders need to look at themselves – they are the constant in the retention equation.  One theory is that leaders are “emotionally contagious” – if you are happy and like your job, well, then, your people will be happy and like their jobs.

[See also: Nursing informatics education growing gradually more robust.]

I believe that to a great degree, but a theory is theory.  What skills do organizations really need to thrive? 

In one survey I read recently, respondents were asked which skills professionals thought were lacking from their environments. The interim findings, based on a survey of 343 IT decision makers from Europe, showed 23 percent felt creativity was lacking; while 40 percent felt senior technical skills were missing. 

When staff are asked what they feel is missing, they will tend to focus on tangible things, like “money” for example, rather than intangible things like “happiness.”

You could say the same thing about “creativity” or “inspiration” or the word of the year:  “innovation”.  It is hard to say what they mean and almost impossible to know what they will deliver. 

So, going back to “emotionally contagious” – - what is inspirational leadership? 

According to Richard Branson in a recent Forbes article, the seven secrets are:  igniting enthusiasm, navigating action, selling the benefit, painting a picture, inviting participation, reinforcing optimism and encouraging potential.

The more of these you do, one could say, the more inspirational you are.  I can tell you that innovation is not related to your R&D budget.  Keeping people isn’t about just paying them more.  It is about the people and how they are led.  And that, ultimately, is a leader’s job.

David S. Finn, CISA, CISM, CRISC, is Health IT Officer with Symantec Corporation and is a former HIMSS board member. This post originally appeared on the HIMSS blog.