A road map for the healthcare labor shortage: ways to improve productivity and reduce attrition

Jul 19, 2022 | Employment, Markets, Solutions

In your daily operation, you may have noticed something: chaos. Canceled flights. Lines and crowds at businesses. Businesses are stumbling to meet demand. Why? As the economy comes back to normalcy, many industries can’t find enough workers to keep fulfilling the need.

Regrettably, this situation is familiar to the healthcare industry and is devastating quality. The labor shortage in healthcare was exacerbated by COVID, as employees became ‘overworked and exhausted.’ But healthcare organizations have faced a shortage of qualified workers for many years. By 2030, the World Health Organization expects a net deficit of 15 million healthcare workers across the global industry.

In the second quarter of this year, CareerBuilder found that postings for registered nurses have outnumbered applicants 53 to one. In contrast, postings for home health and personal care aides have outnumbered applicants 43 to one. Most astonishing: there are 363 nurse practitioner job postings for every applicant. This issue flows from clinical to non-clinical positions throughout the healthcare industry.

The labor shortage is not going away any time soon. An aging population increases the demand for care while contributing to the deficit as more workers near retirement age. COVID will play a role in the coming years, as recovering patients require more long-term care. Some experts also believe that the current educational model needs to change to support the need for more well-trained and diverse healthcare staff.

The clinical shortage in the organization is not the only business unit impacted by the labor shortage. Front-end patient access positions are also challenging to fill and retain. Labor shortages affect patient access teams as fewer healthcare workers can relate to frustrated patients, bottlenecks at registration, longer wait times, etc. The lack of viable motivated employees has also demolished services like EVS and Dietary.

Calculating Employee Turnover Costs
Part of the cost generated by the labor shortage comes from reduced productivity. It can take weeks for a new employee to become fully functional in their position. In the meantime, or when a staff member leaves, managers and supervisors must pick up the slack. This, in turn, reduces their productivity, increases stress, and results in more high-paid employees performing low-wage work. The high attrition rate and ongoing labor shortage in healthcare add up to a critical need to do more with less.

How to do more with less:

Increase automation and streamline workflows
While there is no one solution to the healthcare industry’s labor shortage and attrition rate, an organization can take steps to reduce the impact of the systemic problem. Technology that automates and streamlines processes can help existing staff work more efficiently. By simplifying and eliminating manual, day-to-day tasks, solutions utilizing out-of-box solutions enable providers to do more with fewer resources while improving the patient experience.

EVS services, for instance, reduce administrative costs by 15% by increasing staff productivity via automation while improving accuracy. Communication technology automates text communications and standardizes progress as each task is completed. It enables employees to meet their daily functions while monitoring their progress on their mobile phones, laptops, or tablets.

Saving time on repetitive tasks doesn’t only enable employees to do more work. It lets them do better work. Streamlining these processes opens the door to higher-value interactions that add value to the organization and the person performing them. More exciting and meaningful work translates to greater employee satisfaction, which improves retention and reduces the financial impact of attrition.

Additional strategies to increase performance and improve training
Healthcare organizations can also benefit from solutions that help existing staff and contractors do their jobs more effectively. Continuous improvement procedures, as an example, add individual accountability for higher quality work and improved patient experiences. Live alerts can notify employees of errors before they lead to compromised quality, while error tracking allows supervisors to identify employee issues and implement training. Performance improves with greater visibility into mistakes and trends, benefiting patients, staff, and providers.

Improving performance and satisfaction goes beyond technology. Training and education are crucial components of employee retention. Organizations, like Powerlink, with thorough, repeatable, on-demand, and position-specific curriculums, see less attrition and increased employee satisfaction. Staff learns what they need to be efficient and effective, even in their early onboarding. Combined with intuitive technology, this encourages them to remain in their position longer. As a result, performance goes up, and the cost of training and onboarding new employees goes down.

Corporate culture adds to the desirability of employment
Culture encompasses the values, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, and traditions within the organization will also determine its success in attracting talent. The workforce evaluates an organization and its culture as a critical criterion for joining.

Culture profoundly impacts the work environment by either strengthening or weakening employee engagement and retention. One of the most important ways leaders can influence culture is by reinforcing accountability. Staff should know what they will be held accountable for in their jobs. Organizations with a high-performance culture are well-positioned to outperform their competitors on both financial and quality measures.

Healthcare management must be prepared with the skills and attributes to lead a diverse and multigenerational workforce. They must create a culture where everyone has an opportunity to succeed. The ability to meet the needs of the target community we serve depends on getting talent, leadership, technology, and culture right—by cultivating and managing the right workforce.

Looking forward to more qualified staff and powerful technology
There is no easy ending to the current healthcare labor shortage. In the near future, healthcare organizations will begin to see more qualified staff filling open positions, which will relieve the pressure and burdens currently facing patients. In the meantime, automating manual processes, streamlining workflows, and improving employee performance can all help providers do more with less.

If your organization is struggling to do more with less while labor shortages continue to erode quality. Powerlink would like to show you how we can help you keep ease the labor pressues.