We are facing a serious shortage of healthcare workers globally, especially as the whole world continues shaking from the COVID-19 pandemic. The most worrying aspect is that this shortfall has been steadily increasing, despite more than 2.6 million jobs being added in the last decade in the U.S. alone. To make things worse, the healthcare sector currently has the second highest turnover rate, lagging only the hospitality industry.
The global healthcare worker shortage in numbers:
- Only half of all countries have the required workforce to deliver quality healthcare services.
- The United States’ healthcare system currently lacks more than 1 million nurses.
- A recent study by the JapanTimes reveals that the Japanese healthcare system will need 2.53 million nursing care workers by 2025.
- India is facing a shortage of more than 3.9 million doctors and nurses to deliver “decent” healthcare services.
- The Africa continent has a 24 percent disease burden and has only 3 percent of the required workforce to sustain its healthcare system.
5 Ways to Tackle Employee Shortages in the Healthcare Industry
1. Hire from the National Healthcare Career Network.
As the shortage worsens across the globe, healthcare providers should look at alternative ways of staffing to meet the surge of demand. The American Hospital Association (AHA Solutions) has developed a career center Website that gives healthcare stakeholders access to a vast pool of potential employees. Commonly known as the National Healthcare Career Network, this database allows hospitals CEOs to look for and hire specific talent for their organizations.
In times of global healthcare workforce shortage, having access to a qualified talent pool is invaluable, especially since a physician turnover can cost a hospital up to $1 million per physician. Making smart use of this network may enable healthcare providers to drastically lower their staffing budget by skipping past traditional costs associated with hiring, such as turning to recruiters and staffing agencies.
2. Onboard more aspiring healthcare professionals.
Getting more healthcare students on your team may help fill some of the gaps. These aspiring healthcare professionals often are motivated to jump into the corporate world and get more hands-on practice. While it is true that not every healthcare student is cut out to be a physician, it must be noted that currently, the main shortage stems from general practitioners, nurses, caretakers, social workers, and compassionate health coaches.
Having more students on board can help healthcare organizations dampen the impacts of workforce shortages, while positively building a competitive workplace atmosphere. Overall, this may encourage employees to give more effort in their daily routine, since they will know there are interns competing for permanent positions. Additionally, taking on more healthcare students can give your organization fresh ideas on how to tackle day-to-day challenges and consequentially optimize for improved service delivery.
3. Plan for employee succession and career development.
There has been a drastic change in employment habits over the last couple of decades. Traditionally, most employees would aim at getting promoted internally by staying with their employers for the long run and slowly climbing the hierarchical ladder. Today, this level of “permanent” commitment is becoming scarce, as the younger generation moves in horizontal fashion; healthcare employees tend to look for shorter terms of employment with several organizations to boost their curriculum vitae.
With the current dynamic, healthcare organizations need to actively plan for employee succession and career development. One way of achieving this is by building smarter, data-driven professional pathways and adapting different learning styles to different audiences. By guiding these healthcare professionals toward the careers they are best suited for and the roles they will need to fill for the organization in the long run, healthcare providers can increase employee engagement and forecast to help plan ahead.
4. Make technological competency a standard for all employees.
In the current age we live in, it is vital that the healthcare industry adopts technology. Moving toward digital health can significantly lower the pressure on the current healthcare infrastructure. Promoting the adoption of digital health would enable healthcare providers to deliver virtual online care, education, and advice.
Furthermore, healthcare workers able to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records can qualify to receive incentive payments if they meet the criteria set by the government, under the EHR Incentive Program. Hospitals wanting to cash in on these incentives should ensure their staff has been properly trained and that they have the required IT infrastructure in place. With skyrocketing healthcare delivery costs, turning to technology may prove to be a financially rewarding strategy.
5. Improve your employee retention to reduce turnover.
One of the main causes of staff shortage is the massive turnover faced by the healthcare industry. In 2017, a study revealed that the average turnover rate for a healthcare organization was at a staggering 20.6 percent. Looking back at these numbers, it is essential that healthcare providers have a well-oiled employee retention program in place if they are to stay in the business for the long-term game.
Employee retention starts with properly recognizing your employees and adding value to the employee experience. Best practices to ramp up your employee retention include using connected apps for enhanced communication, an employee scheduling software for planning, and a reward-based system to gauge performance and rewards accordingly. Properly implementing an employee retention model can increase productivity by 22 percent.
In a recent global study, the World Health Organization concluded that by 2035, there will be a shortage of 12.9 million healthcare workers worldwide. It is imperative for all stakeholders of the health industry to start taking measures to counter or mitigate the impacts of the impending shortfall. Dealing with the shortage of health workers begins with understanding the causes for the rise in demand and the factors limiting the supply.
Derek Jones spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets, and communication. With a focus on Emerging Retail, Jones helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor cost in line, and build award-winning workplaces. Jones has morethan 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies such as MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.