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Improve employee engagement to retain your workforce

Tullar, Jessica M.; Amick, Benjamin C. III; Brewer, Shelley; Diamond, Pamela M.; Kelder, Steven H.; Mikhail, Osama

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0000000000000079

Background: Turnover hurts patient care quality and is expensive to hospitals. Improved employee engagement could encourage employees to stay at their organization.

Purpose: The aim of the study was to test whether participants in an employee engagement program were less likely than nonparticipants to leave their job.

Methods: Health care workers (primarily patient care technicians and assistants, n = 216) were recruited to participate in an engagement program that helps employees find meaning and connection in their work. Using human resources data, we created a longitudinal study to compare participating versus nonparticipating employees in the same job titles on retention time (i.e., termination risk).

Findings: Participants were less likely to leave the hospital compared to nonparticipating employees (hazard ratio = 0.22, 95% CI [0.11, 0.84]). This finding remained significant after adjusting for covariates (hazard ratio = 0.37, 95% CI [0.17, 0.57]).

Practice Implications: Improving employee engagement resulted in employees staying longer at the hospital.

Jessica M. Tullar, PhD, is Faculty Associate, Institute for Health Policy and Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston. E-mail:

Benjamin C. Amick III, PhD, is a Senior Scientist, Institute for Work & Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Shelley Brewer, DrPH, CSP, is Global Environmental Director, CB&I, Inc., The Woodlands, Texas.

Pamela M. Diamond, PhD, is Associate Professor, Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston.

Steven H. Kelder, PhD, is Beth Toby Grossman Distinguished Professor in Spirituality & Healing, Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus.

Osama Mikhail, PhD, is Professor, The Fleming Center for Healthcare Management, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston.

Jessica M. Tullar and Shelley Brewer were supported by an Occupational Injury Prevention Training grant (T42 OH008421) from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety Health. Benjamin Amick was supported by St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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