Workforce Changes in Healthcare: 3 Trends to Watch

Last Updated on July 21, 2023

Workforce Changes in Healthcare: 3 Trends to Watch

In an industry with tightening margins and ever-shifting regulations and staffing requirements, it can be tough for leaders to stay on top of important workforce changes in healthcare. With that in mind, let’s take a moment to explore some of the recent trends affecting healthcare employers as we head into Q2 2023, along with a few action items leaders can take to cope with them.  

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3 Key Workforce Changes in Healthcare for 2023

Among the many factors driving workforce changes in healthcare today, the biggest are the ongoing nursing strikes, the difficulty to retain workers in the face of burnout and “quiet quitting,” and the rise in government mandates on staffing ratios and requirements. Let’s take a closer look at each.

#1: The Ongoing Nursing Strikes

Even though the general media may have mostly moved on after the historic strikes in New York City earlier this year, industry observers know that it was just the biggest story within a trend that isn’t going away. Tens of thousands of nurses went on strike in 2022 alone, all places all around the country, including California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and many others.

And the threat of strikes has loomed large in many other places. That’s because the real issues behind the New York strike and most others remain largely in place. What PBS has described as “widespread staffing shortages, overworked nurses beaten down by the pandemic and a busted pipeline of new nurses” remain challenges in many parts of the country.  

The result is usually high caseloads for many nurses, and an increasing tendency to strike for better conditions and higher wages. And, as much as leaders may want to resist demands from union leaders, their persistence, and the disruption they cause, are prompting widespread calls for voluntary improvements among healthcare organizations to prevent strikes before they happen.

> Action item: Whether your organization has dealt with nurse strikes yet or not, it’s an issue that needs to be considered. Learn more about the ongoing strikes and what healthcare employers can do about them.

#2: Burnout, ‘Quiet Quitting’ & a Shift in Employee Priorities

A big theme of the ongoing strikes is the mounting demand on nurses to do more, without necessarily being compensated for doing so. “We’re doing twice as much work essentially for the same compensation and with fewer resources,” as one ICU nurse in Minnesota told USA Today.

That strain is leading to greater rates of burnout than ever before, and rising resentment among nurses and other clinicians about their working conditions. Always a problem in the U.S. healthcare system, burnout has only intensified during the recent pandemic. In response, many workers are “quiet quitting” — i.e., putting in as little effort as possible — or actually leaving the profession altogether.

Both of these workforce changes in healthcare pose a serious risk to employers. Faced with a shortage of healthcare professionals and a high cost of recruiting new ones, many organizations are working harder to retain essential staff. Additionally, lower employee engagement could negatively affect operational efficiency and patient outcomes.

> Action item: Working to build a more positive corporate culture could help improve employee job satisfaction and retention, while partnering with a provider of contingency staffing services could help employers give essential staff more personal time and, by extension a better work/life balance.

#3: New Staffing Rules and Ratios for Hospitals and LTCs

Another recurring theme in the nursing strikes has been an increased focus on the safety of patients and nursing home residents. Since the pandemic, many nurses have felt that they don’t get the resources they need to ensure the safety of the people under their care. Government officials don’t just agree, but have been increasingly taking action in support of this idea.

For example, there’s a growing movement to impose nurse-to-patient ratios. Although just two states have laws on the books, more lawmakers in more states have floated the idea since the pandemic. More recently, under direct orders from the White House, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is in the process of imposing new staffing requirements on long-term care (LTC) providers.

The language used by regulators in recent months also indicates that the government is ready to hold organizations accountable for failing to meet these new standards. In an industry where it’s often a challenge simply to find enough workers to fill shifts, that could be a tough pill to swallow.

> Action item: Partnering with a trusted healthcare managed services provider (MSP) can be an effective way for healthcare organizations to scale up their workforce while also streamlining many of the associated administrative tasks.

> Don’t Miss: Meeting 2023’s Biggest Challenges in Long-Term Care

Stay on Top of Workforce Changes in Healthcare with CareerStaff

At CareerStaff, we specialize in helping the nation’s healthcare employers find the workers they need to stay fully staffed, at all times. We also work hard to keep our clients informed about what’s going on in the industry, and how to best prepare for what the future holds.

If you’d like an insider track on workforce changes in healthcare and much more, sign up for our Healthcare Industry Vitals Newsletter today to get a monthly snapshot of healthcare news and trends, partner resources, staffing best practices, business solutions and more — all curated just for you, and delivered straight to your inbox.

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