Healthcare Staffing: 5 Solutions for Retaining Your Healthcare Workforce
As a fast-paced work environment, hospitals and clinics keep healthcare staff busy, making for a demanding industry with long hours and increased stress levels. Doctors and nurses charge through the hospital — like ants rushing to find enough supplies to secure the colony’s survival before winter hits. But what happened that led to healthcare staffing becoming such an issue?
Truth be told, the healthcare industry is grappling to stay afloat, having just enough personnel to barely “run the show.” Whether it’s doctors, or other providers, such as PAs and NPs, nurses, phlebotomists, and even administrative personnel, the industry is struggling. Healthcare staffing and retention have become two unprecedented issues that are expected to worsen — with a gloomy outlook on the near future.
A survey by WittKiefer indicated that 75% of healthcare workers reported feeling burned out and a majority of 93% said they could see it adversely affecting their organization.¹ According to a survey by ANM Healthcare, every third out of ten RNs indicates the desire to leave her career,² while the National Council of State Boards of Nursing determined that 100,000 nurses had left the industry since 2020, with more than 600,000 expected to leave by 2027.³
But where does this staff shortage in healthcare stem from? Staffing shortages and retention have been a problem but at its peak, it’s important we understand the causes of this issue, so we can mitigate the outcome and find practical solutions.
Healthcare Staffing Shortage at Its Core: The Problem
The struggle is real. Thousands of healthcare workers feel the consequences of an evergrowing staffing shortage in the industry. How did we get here? — many of us wonder. There are countless reasons that led to significant problems in healthcare staffing but here’s what the shortage means in the first place.
With more healthcare staff leaving the industry and fewer people able to tackle the everyday tasks in hospitals and clinics, patients and any remaining personnel are feeling the most profound consequences of this shortage.
(1) Patient Care Quality
With fewer nurses working hospital floors and overtired staff pulling overtime shifts to make up for lacking personnel, patients will have a vastly different hospital experience. As the quality of care is potentially in jeopardy, patient satisfaction will likely plummet, with human errors increasing and treatments being delayed.
(2) Nurses Shortage
At the core of this staffing shortage in healthcare is a worsening shortage of nurses — in principle, due to increased rates of burnout and job dissatisfaction. A variety of factors are significantly contributing to this ever-evolving problem as:
- many nurses are leaving their careers,
- fewer nurses are entering the workforce,
- large numbers of nurses are expected to retire in the next few years,
- and universities are unable to keep up with industry demands.
With nurses being at the forefront of patient care, the nurses’ shortage is directly impacting patients and the quality of care they receive.
Solutions for Healthcare Workforce Retention: What You Can Do
With trends moving further away from an ideal situation, employers find it harder to successfully recruit and retain their healthcare workforce. But there are things you can do to keep nurses and other healthcare workers thriving. Changing operational procedures can help mitigate the burden of staffing shortages and make things easier for everyone involved.
Here are five of the most effective solutions for the healthcare staffing crisis:
With a long list of daily tasks and patients, in addition to a variety of administrative functions, nurses and clinicians are stretched extremely thin. When personnel is already working extended shifts and hospitals are not fully staffed, any factors mitigating healthcare staffing issues are helpful contributions.
Automating processes that support communication and collaboration between different providers and offices is a critical component that can make a huge difference. Staff wouldn’t be required to spend time on tedious manual processes, which eat up large chunks of their time.
Moving towards digital solutions, electronic record-keeping, and technologically advanced tools facilitates workflow processes and saves time. It also reduces the possibility of errors and contributes to a smoother workflow.
(2) Healthcare Retention Bonus
Healthcare staffing has become a tremendous challenge in recent years, particularly in light of a critical shortage of nurses in hospitals and other in-patient facilities. With demands in the industry only increasing, it’s becoming harder for clinics to retain care personnel long-term.
However, it’s a lot more cost-effective to retain your current staff instead of investing your time, money, and energy into finding and training new nurses. Many hospitals have, therefore, begun to offer a healthcare retention bonus designed as an incentive to keep nurses content with staying.
Some clinics have even gone as far as offering a hiring bonus to maintain a competitive advantage, ensuring their healthcare staffing needs are met.
(3) Better Hours & More Flexibility
One of the foremost reasons that have led to the healthcare staffing shortage is the type of work that’s required in the healthcare industry: the physical demands of the job, the long hours, and the need to work holidays and weekends.
What does that mean?
It means missing out on a whole lot of family time and an insufficient work-life balance. As an employer, it can be difficult to avoid overscheduling staff but offering better hours and less overtime will attract more candidates and help keep your current staff happy.
Given that nursing is a female-dominated industry to date, flexibility is a key factor that allows personnel the opportunity to stay home when their kids are sick or rearrange their shifts for a better work-life balance.
(4) Building a Positive Work Environment
Staffing shortages are affecting the healthcare industry in its entirety with much of the staff already leaving the field — many due to stress and burnout. With demands increasing everywhere, how can YOU stand out, attract new talent, and retain your current workforce?
What can tip the needle in your favor is the culture you build for your staff.
Many nurses complain about hectic schedules and stressful workdays, with chaos looming around every corner. A supportive and highly collaborative environment is imperative to show staff you are a team, working together on providing quality care and accomplishing a common goal.
But it also means being there for your staff, lending a helping hand, and an ear to listen to issues arising during everyday operations. Most importantly, it means showing a willingness to improve and better the situation for staff while expressing appreciation for their dedication and commitment.
(5) The Band-Aid: Travel Nurses to the Rescue
If all else fails, and you can’t get a good grip on your staffing situation and the increasing shortage crisis, consider contracting out some of your nursing tasks to travel nurses.
While not very cost-effective, travel nurses can make for a temporary band-aid that can help your staff stay afloat. When staffing shortages get so dire that the remaining staff is completely overworked and at flight risk, it’s a good idea to bring in a traveling nurse short-term to avoid losing more staff.
While not a long-term solution, traveling nurses can support your current staff, reduce their workload and stress level, and make them feel heard — paying you back by offering you loyalty for hearing their pleas for additional help.
Avoid the Healthcare Staffing Dilemma & Retain Workforce
Your most valuable resource is relying on you to take care of them and keep their best interest at heart. While many solutions to the current healthcare staffing situation can take time to implement, you can easily introduce digital tools able to refine workflow operations — providing you with increased efficiency.
Vivlio Health is a software solution designed to help clinical staff more efficiently tackle everyday tasks. It’s a cloud-based tool that will locate medical records and allows you to extract and filter exactly what you need, so you can treat your patient in a timely fashion — and without wasting time sifting through tons of paperwork that you don’t need.
Support your clinical staff by automating the tedious and time-consuming process of requesting and finding the right medical records. Vivlio Health is here to help you navigate this staffing shortage — book a demo and let’s work together.
“Burnout in Healthcare Executives: A Call to Action.” Undated. https://insight.wittkieffer.com/acton/attachment/40398/f-14a7b229-a118-4320-acfb-14a9d2e6846b/1/-/-/-/-/2022%20Healthcare%20Executive%20Burnout%20Survey.pdf?utm_term=Read%20the%20Report&utm_campaign=TEST-Burnout%20in%20Healthcare%20Executives%3A%20A%20Call%20to%20Action%20&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email&cm_mmc=Act-On%20Software-_-email-_-TEST-Burnout%20in%20Healthcare%20Executives%3A%20A%20Call%20to%20Action%20-_-Read%20the%20Report&sid=TV2:EfKbsh1ni. Accessed 3 July 2023.
“The Pandemic’s Consequences. Survey of Registered Nurses.” 2023. https://www.amnhealthcare.com/siteassets/amn-insights/surveys/amn-rnsurvey-2023-final.pdf. Accessed 3 July 2023.
“NCSBN Research Projects Significant Nursing Workforce Shortages and Crisis.” NCSBN, 13 April 2023, https://www.ncsbn.org/news/ncsbn-research-projects-significant-nursing-workforce-shortages-and-crisis. Accessed 6 July 2023.