The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a pre-existing healthcare staffing crisis. Three years later, the problem isn’t getting much better. Healthcare facilities — from nursing homes to hospitals — are critically understaffed.
Staffing shortages have cost healthcare agencies an estimated $24 billion over the course of the pandemic. These staffing problems don’t just affect a healthcare facility’s bottom line. Shortages can also lead to reduced healthcare quality for patients, accidents, and even deaths.
So how do you acquire and retain capable healthcare staff amidst a national healthcare crisis? By implementing these creative healthcare staffing solutions, you can hire qualified candidates and reduce turnover rates. The result is an all-star staff ready to conquer any challenge that comes your way.
Challenges to Healthcare Staffing
Before you can begin to make changes to your hiring and recruitment processes, you first need to understand the obstacles that prevent healthcare facilities from being able to find, employ, and retain qualified team members.
The first challenge to healthcare staffing is a lack of qualified talent. Job vacancies are high, and there simply aren’t enough CNAs and RNs looking to fill those positions.
Because there are so many job vacancies, the competition for top talent is fierce. Employees don’t need to stay with agencies that mistreat them. High turnover rates reflect the fact that healthcare employees who feel burnt out or underappreciated have the power to walk away from their positions knowing that another opportunity is just around the corner.
5 Creative Healthcare Staffing Solutions
Once you understand the challenges to healthcare staffing, it becomes much easier to envision the types of strategies most likely to improve the hiring and retention of healthcare employees.
Our list of five creative ways to retain healthcare workers addresses problems at their core. While some of the strategies work right away, others help future-proof your facility so you can handle challenges down the road.
1. Offer Continual Education Opportunities for Entry-level Positions
One of the major challenges all healthcare facilities face is a lack of qualified talent.
This is one field where you simply can’t hire employees who are under-qualified. What you can do is comb entry-level positions, such as home healthcare or senior care volunteers, for people with the right personality for higher-level jobs.
These entry-level employees already know your facility and your regulations. This makes them prime candidates for future positions as nurses or even doctors — as long as they are provided with the proper training.
By facilitating these entry-level workers to continue their educational pursuits by incentivizing career development, you can bolster your future healthcare staffing talent pool. The promising entry-level healthcare staff of today can become the highly qualified team of tomorrow. And studies continually show that furthering your employees’ education is good for business. It reduces costly staff turnover, empowers current employees, boosts retention rates, and can even give you a break on your taxes.
2. Implement a Paid Mentorship Program
Did you know that 90% of employees who have a mentor say they’re happy in their job?
Strong mentorship programs allow you to get the best performance from your employees while empowering them to strive for bigger and better roles in your organization.
To get a mentorship program off the ground, consider offering an incentive to long-term employees who sign up to be a mentor for someone new. Offer guidelines for what mentors are expected to do with their mentees to receive that incentive.
Mentorship opportunities can improve diversity in the healthcare industry, increase the talent of new hires, and improve the overall functioning of your healthcare facility.
3. Be Cautious About “Seniority Rules” Staffing Solutions
Many healthcare facilities rely on a “seniority rules” way of staffing. This could mean giving loyal employees priority when it comes to the best shifts. It could also mean having new hires do the grossest or least fun jobs.
But giving a new hire the worst shifts and the worst duties is a sure-fire way to send them right back out the door.
Even if “seniority rules” policies aren’t explicitly stated, they often crop up in practice. Staff members who have been around for a while may feel that they have “paid their dues” and sluff the worst shifts or tasks off on newer hires.
To retain new staff members, it’s important to nip this behavior in the bud. Emphasize a team-based ideology for keeping your facility running, and ensure that everyone does their part to keep the team running smoothly.
4. Alternative Compensation and Benefit Options
Two major factors loom large in job satisfaction: pay and benefits. If you’re looking to raise morale and improve hiring and retention rates, improving the pay and benefits you offer will work better than anything else you could do.
The majority of employees are dissatisfied with their current pay and benefits. Unfortunately, in the healthcare industry, it can be difficult to fix this problem. You may not be able to increase wages by a significant amount. With some creativity, you may be able to offer certain flexibilities. This might include:
- Allowing employees who have worked for your facility for a certain amount of time to accrue additional vacation time
- Remove monopolies in the workforce and allow anyone with adequate training to perform associated tasks
- Providing in-office daycare options for working parents
Keep in mind that hiring new team members is expensive. By increasing workplace flexibility and improving benefits, you can reduce turnover rates and save money in the long run.
5. Hire Top Talent Using Empeon
Empeon’s talent acquisition software makes it quick and easy to recruit top talent and create a successful onboarding process. From recruitment through retirement, Empeon’s HR and payroll software provide you with everything you need to employ and manage the right talent for your healthcare facility.
Employ an All-star Staff With Strategic Healthcare Staffing Ideas
Healthcare staffing in today’s industry is hard — but it’s not impossible. You can employ the above solutions on how to retain employees in healthcare. By understanding the reason it’s hard to fill positions, you can begin to work toward solving those problems and making healthcare staffing decisions that actually work.