Workforce Challenges in Healthcare: Strategies to Optimize Workforce Management

Last Updated on December 6, 2021

Group of young nursing professionals smiling at the camera

With the ongoing pandemic, the pressure on the healthcare industry steadily increases. Amid widespread worker shortages, overfilled facilities, and staff burnout, leaders have been facing workforce challenges in healthcare such as maintaining staffing ratios and ensuring continuity and quality of care.

As organizations aim to build a resilient workforce and meet the rising demand for services, some have turned to opening their wallets in hopes of combatting labor shortages. Offers of bonuses, pay adjustments, and benefits strategies are some of the ways health systems are hoping to stay competitive. However, some opposing views say these approaches are only temporary solutions. So, what can leaders do to meet the challenges of more patients and fewer workers?

Optimize Existing Staff with Staffing Solutions

In healthcare, staffing shortages were a challenge prior to the pandemic. As the pandemic is still ongoing, many health systems are struggling to maintain the staff they need. A combination of staff and short-term staff allows leaders and managers to continue to deliver quality patient care. These types of staffing solutions give facilities access to fill in nurses for shorter-term assignments, typically from their own local communities. Utilizing travel and per diem nurses is not only a way to combat staffing challenges, but it also offers flexible scheduling to your current staff, something that is in leading demand.

A recent survey conducted by Aon revealed 69% of health employers that participated in the survey said that flexible work options – ranging from varied scheduling to more permissive time off – are frequently in demand among facility staff. Allowing room for shift changes and schedule alternations for your staff can go a long way, helping them feel supported and to have flexibility.

Supporting Nurses & Clinical Staff

Throughout the pandemic, healthcare workers have been hit the hardest. With compassion fatigue and burnout on the rise, it’s important for leaders to make sure their staff feels safe, supported, and appreciated. Providing PPE, COVID testing, mental health and wellness resources, support with staffing levels, and recognition are just a few ways to offer support. Sheena Singh, senior vice president of Aon’s national healthcare industry practice, said understanding how your organization’s culture is supporting staff is important. She says by “providing your employees a sense of purpose [and] also focusing on recognition of the value they bring to the organization is so critical to retaining your employees.”

In any industry, employee recognition is important for morale and motivation. It acts as the main driver of employee engagement due to workers needing to feel appreciated and acknowledged for their role which leads to increased productivity and better patient outcomes. Additionally, employee feedback systems can serve as great tools in understanding the workforce challenges in the healthcare industry. This allows your staff to have their voices heard and a chance to understand their needs for productivity, mental health assistance, and more.

Understanding the needs of your staff is a smart strategy to ensure they can continue to work at the top of their ability. Sharing mental health resources, from the AMA to governmental authorities such as the American Hospital Association, providing access to fitness and mental health programs, and promoting self-care can all contribute to better supporting your staff.

Investing in Training and Development

In an industry like healthcare, continuous learning is essential due to changing dimensions of care. Throughout the decade, there is an expected 9% growth for registered nurses through 2030 –  which is a projected need for more than 194,500 nurses a year. A contributing factor for this expected growth is the aging workforce going into retirement. Getting innovative can help utilize the potential and high-performance that already exists within your current staff. Strategies such as cross-training opportunities within your staff can help you make the most of your resources allowing you to be more nimble to meet the needs of patients. It also provides new training opportunities for your staff to take on new roles. Additionally, with the current advancement in technology, leaders should prioritize training and development to create more talents and reduce the skill gap between healthcare workers. 

CareerStaff Is Here To Help

At CareerStaff, we specialize in helping organizations like yours overcome workforce challenges in healthcare and achieve successful nurse staffing plans with a variety of services ranging from travel and per diem nurse staffing to comprehensive workforce management solutions. We help by providing access to a network of healthcare professionals and the support you need, when and where you need them.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your facility, contact us today to set up a consultation. You can also request contingency staff now.

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