In the first installment of a two-part series, YellowTelescope President Jon Hoffenberg shares how data can uncover hidden insights in staff retention.

By Jon Hoffenberg

A recent poll from CNBC listed “15 Jobs People Most Want to Quit,” and five of the top 15 were medical professional positions. It’s evident from including roles like “Patient Care Coordinator,” “Patient Care Technician,” and “Patient Services Representative” on this list that many individuals in our industry are both underpaid and unhappy. Defining precise duties by job title might be unclear, but these entries highlight a widespread issue.

With 15 years of consulting for hundreds of practices, we offer both data and straightforward conclusions that any solid consulting group can draw from observing practice outcomes. In short, it’s very likely that some of your employee are about to quit.

As we aim to keep our top talent and attract the best from the annual mass exodus known as “New Year, New Job” at medical consulting group YellowTelescope (YT), what insights can we gain and what practical steps can we take to excel in talent acquisition and retention? How can we combat being a practice that fits into those national high-turnover statistics? In part one of this article series, we talk about data—when to dive deep, why we often fall short, and how common sense factors into hiring and retaining talent.

Recognize That Macro-Statistics Matter, But Not That Much

Over the past two years, turnover, as per Mercer Surveys, has remained relatively stable at approximately 20%. However, there has been a decrease from 24% to 17% over the last year. In general, most might conclude this points to a slowing job market, which will, in turn, naturally lead to greater staff retention rates. 

Indeed, significantly less people leaving jobs is very unlikely to suggest managers suddenly shifted their retention tactics, gave out huge raises, treated people twice as well, or installed free gumball machines in every office. These conclusions, however, are filled with suppositions, gut-feelings, and assumptions. What if every intuitive thought process above is, nonetheless, entirely erroneous?

What if we focus on “Running a Year-Round Business,” diving deep into data as YT suggests? While national statistics may suggest turnover is decreasing or the job market is softening, they might not predict the future accurately. Predicting whether low unemployment will persist for three months or three years is no simple task.

So, while this data adds to our overall understanding, it’s essential not to risk losing valuable employees, offer below-market salaries, or make decisions solely based on what may initially seem clear but could be misleading.

Commit to Deep Dives into Data (DDID)

YT preaches often about the tendency for the most educated to cling to subpar research with strongly held beliefs. We’re often taught that supporting opinions with data is crucial for consensus-building and making sound business decisions. However, we often neglect or don’t prioritize the time to delve deeper into data analysis. Sometimes, hubris plays a role, but frequently, the lack of sleep, time, and a tendency to draw hasty conclusions after events can lead physician-owners into risky situations, despite their good intentions. Indeed, owning a medical practice is one of the few jobs that requires the owner to have two full-time positions.

Fascinatingly, it’s a role where the more successful you are, the less likely you are to have time to run an effective business. Most doctors work for hospitals or universities and report to a CEO who runs the day-to-day operations of the business. But most of you reading this article must juggle both tasks, each demanding more than a 40-hour work week. That’s why many practice owners resort to rushed shortcuts in research, resulting in poor decisions as they strive to perform well on minimal sleep and inadequate research.

It’s no wonder that depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide rates are so pronounced within the physician community, an industry that provides very little business training of any kind.

The Hidden Costs of Rushed Decision-Making

So, what happens? Owners google a statistic, or read an article (That’s right, you should not take every word written here as “gospel” either, but ensure it dovetails with other DDID to help you formulate the right conclusions for your situation), jump to a conclusion that seems loosely based on that limited data, and proceed to make choices that create a downward spiral for their businesses.

Whether the decision leads to reduced revenue, missed opportunities, unhappy team members, a disengaged owner, or other negative consequences, each outcome gradually chips away at job satisfaction and raises turnover rates among team members. While some turnover is beneficial (for instance, Margaret winning the lottery and choosing to quit work to help others), most turnover is harmful. It results in the loss of valuable training and expertise for the practice, or the recognition that the initial hiring was a mistake. This loss of time comes at the opportunity cost of building and growing with more suitable candidates.

Unlocking Nurse Shortage Insights

To help this concept coagulate—and use a tastefully placed medical term to keep your attention!—here are some manifestations of DDID failures, why to commit, and how they impact retention:

Although we observe a slowdown in turnover, suggesting fewer enticing job opportunities and increased retention, this observation does not directly apply to the aesthetic medical industry. These statistics are national in scope. Consider the data about the unprecedented shortage of nursing positions. While the data isn’t wrong, it lacks specificity to be actionable because we haven’t delved deep enough. As we dig deeper, it becomes clear that retaining current personnel is crucial and will likely remain so for years to come.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) suggests there are around 5 million nursing jobs available. 

  • AACN has polls showing 25% plan to leave nursing entirely within five years.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 6% more nurses will be needed by 2032.
  • There is a massive shortage of nurses for open positions—a phenomenon that has been going on for years, according to nearly every data source.

So, it’s clear: Retaining nurses in your practice is vital. Pay them fairly, treat them well. But, even with detailed nurse-centric data, there’s more depth we need to explore.

Have you taken that national nursing data and applied it to your own state? Did you know that according to the National Center for Workforce Analysis, Washington has a 26% projected worker shortage while Michigan is at 15%? Both are extremely high, although only 20% of states are projected to have more than 10% shortages. So if you live in the other 80% of states, perhaps there is a less pronounced shortage or no shortage at all. So, now we have a conclusion. Or do we? What about your exact city?

If Florida does have a shortage, what does that mean for Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, Destin, or Gainesville, knowing most nurses won’t want to move? If California doesn’t have a shortage, does that mean that Los Angeles, San Francisco, or the Salton Sea also do not? And if Los Angeles does have a shortage, knowing it can take two hours to drive 2 miles, what does that mean for Encino, Malibu, Long Beach, or Pasadena?

The Power of True DDID

True DDID allows us to make meaningful conclusions and improve our businesses. But for medical professionals accustomed to diagnosing and fixing, sometimes it’s best not to draw conclusions at all.

What we do know is that reducing turnover, finding the best fits, and achieving remarkable business outcomes through ethical actions is a solid choice, regardless of your circumstances. We must all run a year-round business. And when data-based decisions are made, your outcomes will be superior when you are truly confident you’ve taken the time to dig deep, through layer upon layer of DDID.  

In the second part of this article, we’ll explore making better decisions with DDID to improve retention, sales, and reduce stress, especially in running a year-round business.

Jon Hoffenberg, YellowTelescope’s President, is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, an award-winning speaker, and has served on faculty at the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Global Aesthetics, and more. For over 15 years, his consulting team has worked with aesthetics and cash pay practices and med spas to grow results.