Employee Engagement: A Remedy for Employee Turnover in Addictions Treatment Facilities

Employee Engagement: A Remedy for Employee Turnover in Addictions Treatment Facilities

Organizational success relies on defined vision, mission, and good strategic planning (Aguinis, 2007).  Business sustainability and viability demand effective performance management built with high performing employees.  Employee engagement is a catalyst for keeping good employees aligned with the organizational performance needed to meet organizational strategic goals (Vanderveer & Menefee, 2010).  Despite research on the implications of employee turnover on organizational performance, some addiction treatment facilities have high turnover rates. 

Employee turnover factors include, low productivity, decrease in job satisfaction for remaining employees, and the high cost of filling vacant positions.  Addiction treatment facilities continue to experience high turnover rates (Knight, Broome, Edwards, & Flynn, 2011; Laschober & de Tormes Eby, 2013). Poor organizational performance affects the bottom line (Knight et al., 2011).  Turnover influences employees’ attitudes, creates poor job performance, and decrease in patient satisfaction (Knight et al., 2011; Vanderveer & Menefee, 2010). 

Healthcare organizations must meet regulatory guidelines for service delivery and grant funding. 

The literature on turnover in addictions treatment facilities indicates voluntary turnover rates for counseling professionals within the first year of hire are increasing (Laschober & de Tormes Eby, 2013).  Some organizations report turnover rates of 25% to 100% for the first six to twelve months from the hire date (Laschober & de Tormes Eby, 2013).  Reasons for voluntary termination include factors such as poor onboarding, excess workload, limited supervision, decreased job satisfaction, and mandated overtime resulting in high stress and burnout (Cheung & Tang, 2010; Laschober & de Tormes Eby, 2013; Leykin, Cucciare, & Weingardt, 2011).  The onboarding process is often brief with new hires expected to “hit the ground running.”  New hires start the job with high workloads and enter into clinical teams comprised of remaining employees most of whom are stressed, experiencing symptoms of burnout, and likely categorized as disengaged. 

Organizations invest in recruiting and hiring top talent.  Factors influencing turnover extend beyond the responsibilities of hiring managers.  Employees’ experiences in the workplace foster or stifle employees’ abilities to perform job duties, display positive attitudes, and exhibit high job performance.  Inadequate onboarding, poor training, and lack of employee development lead to disengagement (Bhuvanaiah & Raya, 2015; Cheung & Tang, 2010; Vanderveer & Menefee, 2010).  Employee disengagement contributes to high turnover rates in organizations (Bhuvanaiah & Raya, 2015; Cheung & Tang, 2010; Vanderveer & Menefee, 2010).  Employee engagement is a driver of employee job satisfaction, organizational commitment, high productivity, decreased turnover, and other crucial factors that contribute to effective organizational performance (Bhuvanaiah & Raya, 2015; Cheung & Tang, 2010; Vanderveer & Menefee, 2010). 

Service delivery in addictions treatment facilities focuses on clinical practices to encourage patients to commit to treatment.  Patient engagement is necessary to meet budgeted patient volume and required services for business sustainability and growth.  Addiction treatment facilities, like most healthcare organizations, build system designs that center on engaging patients.  Organizational practices that create barriers to developing satisfied employees to engage and retain patients in treatment are negligent business practices that will result in business crisis.  Employee engagement and patient engagement are parallel processes.  This demands that addiction treatment facilities invest in employee engagement.  Failure to invest in employees will result in progressively dissatisfied employees, higher turnover rates, and business failure.

Organizations can engage employees by providing opportunities that support adequate onboarding and continued employee growth and development.  Implementation of the best practices employee engagement initiatives result in improvements with employee engagement.  Organizational initiatives and practices that ensure employees engage in training and development foster competency, decision-making authority, and empowerment helping to decrease employee turnover (Bhuvanaiah & Raya, 2015; Vanderveer & Menefee, 2010). 

Engaged employees report feelings of involvement, purpose, and value (Bhuvanaiah & Raya, 2015).  Organizational leaders are responsible for meeting organizational goals by ensuring that business capital and human capital perform optimally.  Addictions treatment facilities can decrease turnover rates, improve employee performance, and organizational effectiveness by making parallel commitments to employee and patient engagement.


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Natalie DuMont

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Natalie Dumont
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