The coronavirus pandemic shut down the entire world at various points and for extended periods. Healthcare professionals found themselves struggling to find the best ways to help patients, working in a world where social distancing was necessary and health was a valued commodity. Society, meanwhile, discovered that a work-life balance was a higher priority than it had been given of late and began taking steps to change lives for the better.
Those changes have meant some scary times for employers, particularly in the healthcare field.
A survey conducted by Bianca K. Frogner, Ph.D. and Janette S. Dill, Ph.D., MPH, MA, and published by JAMA Network in April 2022 reported that healthcare employment was still 2.7% lower than pre-pandemic levels as of late 2021. Meanwhile, healthcare professionals are in rising demand. This puts HR staff in a unique and unenviable position.
Top 5 Challenges for Healthcare HR in 2022
Healthcare HR staff are seeing old concerns grow in scope and new difficulties weigh-in, all while retaining pressure to keep budgets intact and pacify staff members unhappy with their work environment. Below are the top five challenges that Healthcare HR staff find themselves facing as 2022 progresses:
- Staff Concerns
- Recruiting Talented Staff
- Funding Constraints
- Changing Laws
- Clarity of Expectations
Sufficient medical staff is a top priority at any time, and current struggles to maintain adequate staffing while dealing with cutbacks or turnover, the concern has moved to the top of the list.
Employees report dissatisfaction with their work environment, compensation, or other aspects of their current career and are making the decision to change jobs. Burnout is leading to early retirement, and Frogner and Dill’s survey states, “Given the high demand for long-term care workers, targeted attention is needed to recruit job-seeking healthcare workers and to retain those currently in these jobs to lessen turnover.”
As employees leave and the remaining staff struggle to continue providing the same level of care and attention to patients, tracking hours and maintaining employee records are secondary. This leads to issues with both, putting more pressure on a staff that is already short-handed and contributing to greater issues down the road.
Employee retention, therefore, is being prioritized more than ever. There is extra focus on support for employee wellbeing in the workplace, efforts to improve team building and employee engagement, and even new tactics to help address overwhelm and burnout in long-time staff.
With the rise in gas prices, combined with the desire for work-life balance inspired by the pandemic, demand for work-from-home and remote positions continues to rise. While remote jobs are not feasible in every industry, qualified candidates seek flexibility in employment that requires task completion in person.
Employers face the challenge of finding a happy medium that prioritizes productivity and work completion without leading to employee burnout and long-standing vacancies.
Recruiting Talented Staff
Recruitment is a top priority for HR at any time. However, when the current employees are stretched thin, it becomes a bigger concern. With the pandemic and prevailing opinions on work-life balance and careers in healthcare, recruitment may be even more difficult.
Benefits packages, potential sign-on bonuses, and competitive salaries are popular ways to recruit staff who bring experience and needed knowledge to the practice. However, these are costly elements of the process.
Training and development are gaining popularity, and the lack of opportunities can be a tipping point for staff who pursue other career paths. The same is true for an inclusive workforce. The lack of a welcoming environment can be a big reason staff members choose to look for another job. HR has to combat these issues and find a way to recruit and retain experienced medical staff.
A dollar can only stretch so far. When it comes to priorities, technology is a valuable investment, but it can require a reduction in other budgetary areas. Medical professionals have to weigh the benefits of new technology versus the sacrifices that might be required in other areas to cover the costs.
Those sacrifices might include less available funds for employee appreciation, such as gifts, holiday bonuses, and staff luncheons. While that may seem like a worthwhile tradeoff to the management staff, employees may not agree that the value of the new technology was worth the loss of employee appreciation efforts.
Meanwhile, the cost of turnover is significant and can put added stress on the annual budget. as well. HR staff must find a way to balance training new employees, budgeting for benefits packages, and hiring incentives, all while maintaining employee satisfaction for long-time staff members. A high rate of employee turnover can lead to patient loss as well, decreasing revenue and further reducing the budget.
Laws in Texas regarding healthcare are passed regularly. Some go into effect immediately, while others begin with the start of the new fiscal year in September.
In September 2021, 36 laws related to healthcare went into effect in Texas. These laws covered everything from prescription drugs and benefits, coverage, and pandemic response to transparency. This does not count the laws that went into effect immediately. Therefore, this provides only a snapshot of the challenge medical personnel face in staying current with what’s required.
With this many new laws regularly enacted and the varied timelines for when they take effect, HR can find it challenging to remain in compliance. HR can find it a struggle to keep up with adequate training for both existing staff and newly hired employees. These tasks are added to those required for the day-to-day operation of the practice. In order to balance this requirement with the various needs of your practice, it is important to work with partners who can stay current on the regulations and guide your practice in the best way to ensure you meet those regulations.
Clarity of Expectations
There are only so many hours in a day. Employees find themselves frustrated when their schedule includes a meeting, especially when that meeting is not well-organized and does not clearly convey the information intended.
Practices can find it taxing to monitor and improve productivity, and those concerns only escalate when staff is not informed of changes to policies and procedures and supported in efficiency efforts. While holding a meeting to keep staff members informed is necessary, the organization of that meeting is even more important in maintaining a positive work environment for all involved.
When you don't effectively communicate upcoming changes to the day-to-day operations of your practice, employees can feel undervalued and that they aren't part of the team. This, in turn, can lead to a correlating decrease in productivity, frustration for management, and a continuation of the turnover cycle.
How 99MGMT can help Address Concerns in the Coming Year
One positive of the way today’s world works is that there are experienced businesses capable of helping a medical practice with some of the above issues. This frees up staff and time to address other situations and hopefully cut down on turnover rates and obstacles related to hiring new staff.
99MGMT is one such agency, where tasks that may seem intimidating are a feature their experienced staff can handle with ease.
These tasks include:
- Streamlining technology integration
- Creating a clear plan and facilitating the execution of change
- Onboarding - including benefits, training, and recruitment
- Billing and paperwork, allowing more focus on patient satisfaction and easing the workload of on-site employees
Hiring a virtual assistant can also be beneficial in today’s struggle to find the right staff, and 99MGMT can help you with this process as well. You can read more about the benefits of a virtual assistant here.
Looking to the Future: Consult the Experts and Get Ahead of the Struggle
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas will face a shortage of RNs, NPs, CRNAs, and CNMs “in relation to projected demand for each nurse type each year between 2015 and 2030.”
The IHS Inc.’s Healthcare Workforce Model, using Texas-specific data, shows that nursing homes, residential care, and home health settings are projected to see a faster rate of growth in that timeframe. They project the demand for nurses in home health settings to increase by 74%.
This trend does not indicate the need for nurses in medical practices will decline. Therefore, the best way to prepare your practice for future staffing concerns is to find the right partnership to help strengthen your staff by reducing turnover and addressing recruitment challenges however possible. Contact 99MGMT today to discuss the best way to move forward with your HR priorities.