CEO Turnover: Be Ready to Address the Ripple Effect

CEO Turnover Be Ready to Address the Ripple Effect
Cejka Search
January 30, 2023 05:38 AM (GMT-04:00)
Cejka Search News

Executive recruitment and retention are among the top challenges faced by rural and critical access hospitals. The annual survey on hospital CEO turnover by the American College of Healthcare Executives has consistently reported turnover rates in the high teens, which often brings an alarming ripple effect of turnover in the leadership ranks. A related study reports a high rate of secondary turnover among key executives within one year of the CEO departure. The study reported that 77% of chief medical staff officers and 52% of the chief operating officers departed within one year of the CEO turnover. (The Impact of Hospital CEO Turnover In U.S. Hospitals)

This may not be surprising – and in some cases may be strategically necessary – as the new CEO creates an executive team aligned with their management style. But, when seeking a new CEO, board members should be ready to address potential high turnover in other key leadership roles.

Rural and Critical Access Hospitals Depend on a Core Leadership Team

The nature or degree of impact is likely to be a function of the size of the hospital. Since rural and critical access hospitals are more dependent on a small core team for strategy, day-to-day operations and community relations, they risk higher qualitative and quantitative impact of executive turnover. With the average tenure of a CEO being about five years, the stakes are high for recruiting and retaining the right CEO and leadership team.

The headlines have been filled with the pandemic-driven “Great Resignation.” But, it can be more accurately termed the “Great Reassessment.” It’s a time when both people and organizations step back to redefine their future. Rural and critical access hospitals can take advantage of this dynamic to align their leadership teams to fit their community needs. They need an executive partner who can guide board members – most of whom don’t have healthcare experience – and position the organization among a broader pool of candidates with potential to fit the needs of the organization and community.

Special Challenges of Recruiting a Rural Healthcare Leader

Rural and critical access hospitals play a unique role in their communities, which is why it takes a special leader with a strong sense of purpose to be successful in their role. They must be more involved in the local community with a strong focus on relationships and trust, yet have the experience required to develop the same initiatives as larger Integrated Delivery Networks (IDNs) on a smaller scale.

Finding the right search partner with both broad reach and deep experience in rural healthcare is central to successful recruitment and retention of leadership teams. For example, Mason Health in Olympia, Washington, has partnered with Cejka Search to fill multiple key roles, including a COO and CFO who were previously working in California and Illinois.

“Cejka Search has allowed Mason Health to recruit for executive talent with a broader reach than our Washington market,” said CEO Eric Moll. “They bring credibility and professionalism to the process, allowing Mason Health to present a top-tier impression to candidates. They are very engaged in the communication with potential candidates ensuring a seamless recruitment process.”

Cejka Thought Leadership Rural Hospitals 01-12-2023

Given the ripple effect associated with leadership turnover, the stakes are high for rural hospitals. Filling key executive roles requires a different lens, highly tuned executives search skill and broad reach into the candidate network nationwide to find executives who understand how to run lean organizations and build trust among the staff and community.

Focus on Rural and Critical Access Hospital Recruitment

Cejka Search is recognized as a leader in executive search for rural and critical access hospitals, which comprise the single largest segment of healthcare organizations we serve. We have exclusively served the healthcare industry and health-related academic organizations for more than 36 years, completing 100 searches in critical access hospitals in the past five years.

Our approach is collaborative, and our expertise and experience foster our ability to place qualified candidates across multiple disciplines at various levels within an organization. Let’s connect to discuss how our sophisticated approach can help fill critical roles in your organization. Call us at (800) 209-8143 or email

Sources linked above center/research/hospital_ceo_turnover_06.pdf

Bookmark and Share