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Workforce report: Retention

NOTE: This blog post features the Retention section from OCH's newest report, "Strengthening the health-serving workforce". This report is directly informed by the work of OCH’s partners in behavioral health, primary care, hospitals, dental health, public health, community-based, and Tribal settings. As such, there is room for everyone in this important work. OCH aims to support a strong and healthy workforce, which ultimately produces a ripple effect that positively impacts individual and population health.

Retention refers to ensuring existing employees remain happy. Employers with high retention rates have found work-life balance, increased compensation, and fostering a culture of belonging to have the greatest contribution to keeping employees happy and engaged. These factors are often a challenge to address, but through creative approaches, partners across the region are helping employees feel satisfied in the long-run.


3 out of 4 partners noted frequent salary increases having a great impact on workforce retention. As employees gain greater experience and more responsibility within their roles, they often look to salary increases and career growth that better reflects their abilities and contributions. Unfortunately, many partners view salary increases as a significant challenge.


Addressing entry-level turnover rates, Peninsula Community Health Services

Entry-level positions in healthcare settings make little more than food services or customer service level positions and this can be a contributing factor to high turnover rates in these positions. Peninsula Community Health Services (PCHS) is creatively addressing their high entry-level turnover rates by offering career programs, such as apprenticeships, and leadership and supervisory trainings. This provides an opportunity to motivate development and retention, while also allowing progression toward middle management for Medical, Dental Assistants, and others.

Work-life balance

Beyond compensation, even more partners reported work-life balance as having an even greater impact on workforce retention. 100% of respondents that represent primary care settings and hospitals settings rated work-life balance as essential to retention. Community-based organizations and social services also consider work-life balance important but less overwhelmingly so, which may be because community-based work environments often allow for greater flexibility and less client interactions compared to physical health settings.


Flexible work environments, Answers Counseling

To better understand provider interests, satisfaction, and passions, ANSWERS Counseling conducted an internal survey. The survey showed that the most common gratitudes expressed were work life balance, flexibility (schedules, workload, diverse program choices, location options), and the opportunity to work in community of choice. ANSWERS builds in flexibility into provider experience to promote balance and sustainable routines.

Alternative schedules, Jamestown Family Health Clinic

Jamestown Family Health Clinic offers providers the opportunity to have flexible schedules. This allows them to accommodate changing family schedules, particularly around school schedules. They do this by offering later start times and earlier end times. This approach allows employees to engage in a work schedule that not only supports their financial and professional goals, but also aligns with family demands.


Research suggests that feelings of belonging at work and attachment to place are particularly important in rural areas. In the Olympic region, over half of the survey respondents agree with the importance of belonging and the impact it has on retention. This is of particular concern in Clallam and Kitsap counties.


Building trust with administration, Bogachiel and Clallam Bay Clinics

Bogachiel and Clallam Bay Clinics helps minimize burnout by fostering a sense of trust through their administration department’s open-door policy. This approach allows employees to feel welcomed to discuss problems and concerns as they arise.

“Our success is due to a workplace culture that is fun, inclusive, flexible, and offers advancement opportunities as able.” - OCH partner
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