The U.S. is dealing with one of the most dramatic healthcare shortages in the history of the country. A new report from a global healthcare staffing consultancy found that U.S. medical facilities will need to hire over 2 million new healthcare workers in the next five years in order to keep up with demand, especially as aging healthcare professionals retire.
Obviously, these are all estimates, but it’s clear that there will be shortages of physicians, nurses, medical and clinical lab technicians, and home health care workers in the coming years.
In light of this trend, it’s even more important to retain the staff that you have now, or you may be the healthcare business frantically searching for skilled workers in a couple years. But what do healthcare professionals actually want? What’s the difference between a medical facility with a high turnover rate and one where employees have been around for ten years?
Many hospitals are already going to the extreme to try to attract medical professionals, offering $20,000 signing bonuses and $20,000 to cover relocation costs, as well as college tuition for themselves and their children and free housing. But is this a good strategy or does it only tempt those who will jump ship in a couple of months for an even better opportunity?
A study from the American Psychological Association shows that the number one reason that people stay in a job is that they enjoy the work that they do, followed by how well the job fits with other areas of their life and the benefits.
Bring on the benefits.
According to the 2016 Strategic Benefits survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), here are the top benefits that organizations are leveraging to retain and attract highly-skilled employees, in order:
- Health care benefits
- Retirement savings and planning benefits
- Leave benefits
- Flexible working benefits
- Professional and career development benefits
- Wellness/preventative health benefits
- Financial benefits
If you’re not offering some of these benefits, and or are offering these already but in a minimal sense, then this is a great place to start. Are your healthcare workers able to have more input into their work schedules? Could you offer increased health insurance coverage? Is providing child care an option? All of these benefits can improve work-life balance, reducing the tension that healthcare workers may feel between their personal and professional lives.
Talk to your staff.
Increased wellness initiatives won’t mean anything to your healthcare workers if what they really want is more time off, and vice versa. Before starting a whole new benefits program only to find that your staff doesn’t care, take the time to talk to them and find out what they think would make their work life better.
Not only will this help you get a handle on what your employees really want out of a job, but consulting them before making decisions about benefits will make them feel heard and cared for. But this shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Checking in with your employees regularly to discuss their concerns and address issues will help you identify the positives and negatives of working for your healthcare business. And, as mentioned earlier, the biggest reason that people stay in a job is that they enjoy the work that they’re doing, and asking them is one way to find out if their tasks/responsibilities could be improved or changed to increase their work satisfaction.
Think outside the box.
One way to get ahead and attract the best and brightest in the field is to offer benefits that no one else is offering. For example, one great perk that benefits both your medical staff and your business is to invest in a medical uniform service. Not only does it give your employees one less thing to worry about, but it also protects your medical facility’s image and prevents cross-contamination incidents.
Healthcare is already a fulfilling job, but find ways to remind your professionals about the difference that they’re making.
Burnout is extremely prevalent in the healthcare industry. With all the work that they have to do, after a while, medical professionals can become distanced and disillusioned from their jobs, decreasing their job satisfaction. Take time to remind them how important their work is, allow opportunities for patients to express their gratitude, and try to accommodate them any way that you can, and you’re on your way to becoming a healthcare organization that your employees will love working for.