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How are we going to face the staffing challenges?

Editor’s Note: This article first appears on Phoenix Medical Management’s page, please click here to go to their website.

We are all tired of talking about that virus that popped up in 2019. So tired of it that I am not going to call it by name in this article! Unfortunately, over the past several years, hospitals have worked through unprecedented staffing challenges and assisted in managing caregivers through the emotional toll that has affected us all. But now, in 2022, as we seem to be on the other side of things, how are we going to address the staffing shortages related to burnout and a change of perception in the workplace? What will be required to create new tactics by senior leadership to engage all team members and to attract talent into the hospital setting?

According to an Altarum analysis of healthcare employment, hospital employment is down 31,000 jobs in the first three quarters of 2021 (SHSS-Labor_Brief, 2021). Overall, during this time period, total health care employment is down by 524,000 jobs. This includes jobs across the spectrum of the industry such areas as dietary, patient registration, environmental services, and continues up through the need for nurses and physicians to provide patient care. Burnout and heavy workloads have been the driving force of this change in statistics. Another key piece for consideration is the staffing influence that Millennials affect. They are entering the workforce and currently make up the largest working population in the U.S. By 2025, they will represent 75 percent of the global workforce.

So how do we attract staff to come to our facilities? Without people and the talent that they bring, our organizations cannot sustain. First steps are to create a strong orientation program that develops inclusion with a sense of belonging to the organization reflected through teamwork and collaboration. Next, include and encourage the Millennials and newest members of your team to be included in your development processes. This group has grown up with electronic devices in their hands and bring fresh ideas! Do not let old ways lead without room for new ideas and input, especially when it comes to IT support and implementation.

Engaging staff and continuing retention will be key for this change in the workforce and the outlook on work life balance for all generations. In the acute setting, considering flexibility in roles and assignments can be difficult but must be top of mind as so many individuals are considering remote positions. Review thoughtless mandates that violate autonomy when possible. When interviewing new prospects, be clear on what is most important and discuss and highlight what you can offer to them that sets your organization apart. What makes your organization a compelling choice and are your offerings competitive in the current market?

A revolving door of talent at any level creates ripples that affects the progress of hospital systems and the retainment of experienced staff at any singular employer. These key elements make succession planning difficult so how do we address this? Appeal to what matters to people and create a value proposition for what your organization can offer to recruits. For current staff, connect what you do daily that creates an exceptional atmosphere and demonstrates to your team that you appreciate them and support them in both their long-term needs and goals. Contribute to their lifelong learning and offer opportunities for professional development and promotion. A leader who is engaged and involved inspires others to develop into the next generation of effective and inspiring leaders. Create staff who feel connected and empowered to be their best and are dramatically less likely to leave their current position but strive to be that next generation leader!

References:

SHSS-Labor_Brief. (2021, September). Retrieved from Altarum: Health Sector Economic Indicators

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Marie Stinebuck, MBA, MSN, ACM

Marie Stinebuck has been a nurse for 25 years with 13 years of experience in case management and more than a decade in hospital case management leadership. Her roles have included leadership of teams in case management, utilization review, denials management, clinical documentation. Marie holds an MBA and a master's in nursing leadership. She currently has an active role on the American Case Management Association board.

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