American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Retention vs. Recruitment

Retention of existing staff has a greater impact on cost and quality factors in providing speech-language pathology (SLP) services than a successful recruiting program. The benefits of successful retention of staff include both cost savings and quality:

Cost saving factors of successful retention programs

  • No lost productivity/revenue caused by vacant positions
  • Minimization of new staff recruitment costs (advertising, sign-on bonuses, relocation costs)
  • Minimization of reduced productivity/revenue for new staff during orientation

Quality factors of successful retention programs

  • Increased experience and efficiency in delivering services  
  • Increased consistency and compliance with policies and procedures
  • Increased leadership and teambuilding

If you experience frequent turnover of SLP staff, consider conducting exit interviews or questionnaires to explore the reasons. It is rare to lose an employee over pay or benefits, which are more often recruitment issues, not retention issues. Some responses that may point to a need to improve your retention efforts are:

  • Unreasonable productivity requirements;
  • Administrative demands that conflict with professional ethics or clinical judgement (e.g., mandating a prescribed caseload size without regard to appropriateness of patients; treating patients for a predetermined period of time without regard for tolerance level and/or prognosis);
  • Lack of administrative support for non-professional activities (copying or preparing materials, patient transport, record keeping);
  • Lack of training to meet job requirements;
  • Lack of tools to meet job requirements (e.g., assessment and treatment materials, computers, copiers);
  • Inadequate staffing to meed caseload needs;
  • Lack of compliance or support by other staff for recommendations made by SLPs;
  • Too much travel between patients or facilities; and
  • Too much paperwork.

Even a successful recruitment program cannot compensate for the impact of high turnover on the quality, morale, and costs of an SLP staff.

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