Blog | HR |
10 Min Read
June 16, 2023

How to Prepare Your Business for a Younger Healthcare Workforce

by Morris Isaacson

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, so does the healthcare workforce that drives it. With the influx of new graduates and young professionals entering the field, it’s important for businesses to adapt and prepare for this younger demographic.


While some may view these changes as daunting, there are many ways to embrace the transition and create a welcoming environment for all members of your team.


Read on to explore some tips and strategies for preparing your healthcare business for a younger workforce. From embracing technology to fostering a positive workplace culture, you’ll leave with actionable tips on how to attract and retain top talent from today’s younger generation.

First, consider why it’s so important for healthcare organizations to embrace a younger workforce.

The state of U.S. healthcare staffing

The healthcare industry faces an ongoing challenge: a severe shortage of healthcare workers, a phenomenon intensified by the “Great Resignation.” 


According to a 2022 report by McKinsey, it’s projected that the U.S. could face a shortage of anywhere between 200,000 to 450,000 registered nurses (RNs) available for direct patient care by the year 2025. 


A Mercer report further projected a shortage of more than 3.2 million lower-wage healthcare workers — such as home health aides, medical assistants, and nursing assistants — within the next five years.


The ever-present effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aging nursing population are two primary factors for this alarming trend.

The COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic added fuel to an already burning staffing shortage fire, pushing healthcare staffing to its limits. 


According to the 2022 COVID-19 Impact Assessment Survey from the American Nurses Foundation and the American Nurses Association, 52% of nurses were considering leaving their jobs because of inadequate staffing, inability to deliver quality care, and the negative effects of work on their health and well-being.


In that same report, 60% of acute care nurses stated they felt burnt out, while 75% felt frustrated, stressed, and exhausted. 


As a result, 100,000 RNs and 34,000 licensed vocational and practical nurses left the workforce from 2020-2022.

Aging healthcare professionals

To add to these challenges, a large portion of the healthcare workforce is nearing retirement age. 


The average age of a registered nurse in the U.S. was 52 in 2020. Though the average age fell to 46 in 2022, the decline was solely due to the loss of over 200,000 RNs from the workforce. 


Furthermore, the Association of American Medical Colleges projects that one-third of practicing physicians will reach retirement age within the next 10 years.


It’s clear that new solutions are needed to combat the healthcare staffing shortage. So, it’s crucial that we bring in a younger workforce to maintain the quality of healthcare.

7 ways to prepare your organization for a younger healthcare workforce

The future of healthcare lies in the hands of Generation Y. Otherwise known as Millennials or the Net Generation, they are commonly defined as people born in the 1980s to mid-1990s. Attracting, hiring, and retaining these younger workers should be a top priority for any healthcare organization today.


So how can you prepare your organization for a younger workforce? 


1. Take advantage of the recent JCAHO deregulation


Inaccessibility is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges facing young healthcare professionals today. Many young workers lack the certifications, qualifications, or years of experience often required for many positions — including entry-level jobs. On the other hand, they may also be overqualified for some jobs that don’t utilize their education. You can combat this challenge by taking advantage of the recent reduction of accreditation standards for healthcare professionals.


Besides eliminating 168 quality measures and standards, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) revised 14 standards across accreditation programs. The deregulation took effect in January 2023, and licensure and education standards became more lenient as a result.


What does this mean for you and younger candidates? You can focus on creating new positions targeting young, entry-level workers who didn’t qualify for certain positions before. You can close the gaps in your staffing while opening access to employment and internal promotions to young healthcare professionals.


2. Leverage technology


Young workers expect technology to be incorporated into their daily work and the recruiting process. After all, they grew up in an era of rapid technological advancements, and they’re comfortable with using technology to streamline tasks and improve patient care.


Embracing technology not only meets these expectations but also signals that your organization is forward-thinking. So how can you incorporate technology into your processes?


When it comes to recruitment, you can keep up with the times by using technology such as:


● Online job portals 

Talent acquisition software

● Social media

● Virtual job fairs

● Mobile-friendly job applications 

Automation tools such as ChatGPT 


Integrating tech tools such as electronic health records (EHR), HR and payroll software, telemedicine, and advanced medical equipment into your day-to-day operations can also make your organization more attractive to younger workers.


3. Offer flexible work options 


Data from Forbes reveals that 76% of millennials expect flexibility in work options, and 38% identify flexible working benefits as the most important benefit.


Some flexible work options to implement include:


● Remote work opportunities

● Flexible scheduling

● Shift swapping

● Part-time positions

● Job-sharing opportunities

● A hybrid workplace


Offering these options can increase job satisfaction, reduce burnout, and ultimately improve the quality of patient care.


4. Promote learning and development


Younger workers have a strong desire for professional growth. They’re looking for opportunities to learn and develop their skills continually.


Some ways you can prioritize learning and development include:


● Regular training and workshops

● Tuition assistance or loan repayment programs

● Career development initiatives

● Mentorship programs


5. Display a transparent growth path


Young professionals want to know there’s a future for them within your organization. They want to see clear, defined paths to advancement and opportunities to grow.


Transparency in career pathways can lead to increased job satisfaction, reduced turnover, and higher performance among employees. So, display transparency through:


● Structured promotion tracks

● Regular performance reviews and feedback

● Opportunities for lateral movement and skill diversification


6. Build a positive work culture


Work culture refers to the environment, values, behaviors, and interactions that make up your organization. Millennials value a positive, inclusive, and collaborative work culture where they feel valued and heard. In fact, over 50% of employees care about work culture more than salary.


Work culture’s intangible nature can make it difficult to know where to make changes. So how can you start? 


● Encouraging open communication and feedback

● Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives

● Hosting team building and social events 

Prioritizing mental health


7. Promote social responsibility


Younger generations care deeply about the impact their work has on the community, the environment, and the world. So, get involved in community service or charity events, implement programs, and promote health and wellness in the local community.

Ensure success by embracing younger healthcare professionals

The seven strategies outlined above are your keys to attracting a younger workforce. From leveraging technology and flexible work options to promoting learning and fostering a positive work culture, these measures will prepare you for the next generation of healthcare professionals.


Attracting younger workers isn’t only necessary for maintaining staffing levels, but it’s also beneficial for your organization. They bring new ideas, are comfortable with technology, and are ready to be the healthcare leaders of tomorrow.


By preparing to embrace a younger workforce now, your organization will not only survive but thrive in the face of healthcare staffing challenges. You’ll also contribute to the success of the healthcare industry as a whole, ensuring patients continue to receive high-quality care now and in the future.

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