By 2025, the U.S. is estimated to have a shortage of approximately 446,000 home health aides, 95,000 nursing assistants, 98,700 medical and lab technologists and technicians, and more than 29,000 nurse practitioners, according to a 2021 report conducted by industry market analytic firm Mercer. It’s also expected that by 2025, we will also experience a shortage twice as large as any nursing shortage experienced in the US since the mid-1960s. Experts say the rapidly aging nursing workforce is a primary contributor.
The enormous challenges of early nurse retirement, shortage of talent with the necessary certifications and qualifications, wage pressure, and swiftly evolving worker preferences have heralded in an era of unprecedented ingenuity and innovation from the Healthcare industry, specifically Healthcare and Hospital Services, that both fellow practitioners and other industries can expect to see take center stage in 2023:
TALENT TREND #1: Healthcare systems will continue to see a wider array of new employer-employee constructs, new ways of defining ‘flexible work’
Staffing shortages started years ago, but the problem became worse due to the pandemic. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of working U.S. nurses dropped by over 100,000, the largest single-year decline recorded in four decades of data, according to an analysis of the Current Population Survey published in Health Affairs in January, 2022. The crisis has continued into 2023; in Jan 2023, 15% of U.S. hospitals reported shortages in critical-care staffing, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This can be attributed to multiple reasons: nurses are retiring (some due to age, some voluntarily), experiencing burnout or leaving the profession to handle family responsibilities, and gig work on the other hand is catching on nationwide as a flexible work option compared to traditional scheduling. A lot of nurses started opting for traveling nurse jobs for increased pay and flexibility.
To meet the nursing staff where they are at in terms of pay and flexibility, Mercy’s leadership embraced strategic disruption. Mercy created Mercy Works on Demand (MWOD), a novel scheduling platform with its own app to reduce friction and increase flexibility by giving nurses the option to pick their own shifts. MWOD allows full and part-time nurses to enter the workforce on their own terms. The app customizes itself to each user’s preferences. Core staff choose their preferred shifts, then flex co-workers fill in the gaps. Less-attractive shifts, like overnight hours, are incentivized at a higher rate to attract gig workers. What was initially launched as a pilot program in one Mercy hospital location has now been extended to 30 other hospitals in their network. Mercy saw an improved fill rate, reduction in total cost to deliver care and amount spent on agency staffing. We see this trend of redefining flexible work options radiating within and outside the healthcare industry due to its potential to solve talent shortages and provide employees with the work/life balance they have been craving.
TALENT TREND #2: An increased focus on promoting from within, upskilling, and reskilling talent
The State University of New York (SUNY) partnered with ECMC Hospital in Buffalo, NY to offer up to 50 students $1,500 per year to cover student expenses that federal and state grants won't cover.
While state governments are funding educational programs to address the talent deficit issue, individual hospitals will also increasingly invest in employee education to increase retention. Orlando Health delivers on its commitment to nursing education through a generous tuition assistance program that supports employees' continued education. In 2020 alone, Orlando Health supported 619 nurses on their journeys to degrees. The organization also offers a student loan repayment program which has improved the financial wellness of nearly 600 nurses. As a result, they have seen more than a 10 percent increase in employee retention amongst those participating in its education benefits program.
TALENT TREND #3: Healthcare is moving faster than other industries to expand the definition of diversity, going beyond race, gender, and ethnicity to better reflect the ways people define and celebrate their uniqueness
From a healthcare industry perspective, lack of equity translates to reputation damage, higher costs, and challenges in delivering on their missions to the communities they serve. “When we exclude particular populations, decrease access, increase barriers, or provide subpar care, then at the end of the day, those people are going to utilize health care dollars at a much higher rate,” says Mary Fleming, MD, President of the nonprofit Reede Scholars, Inc. and program director of the Leadership Development to Advance Equity in Health Care program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The COVID-19 pandemic also highlighted long-standing inequities in public health: compared with White, non-Hispanic people, minorities experienced more than one and a half times the case rate, three times the hospitalization rate, and two times the death rate. A McKinsey survey conducted in 2022 found that 60% of healthcare workers are White. These statistics underscore the importance of health equity, not just in outcomes but also in the diverse workforces serving diverse patient communities and more broadly in ensuring the definition of diversity, equity, and inclusion is at least as broad as the communities these organizations serve. To that end, leading healthcare institutions, especially hospitals, have among the most evolved and inclusive definitions of diversity, not just for patient care, but for their talent acquisition and talent management teams. While most talent acquisition and talent management organizations today define their diversity goals aligned to the EEO form’s definition of race, gender, ethnicity, and veteran status, there is a dramatic increase in the desire and intent to broaden these definitions to align to how talent defines themselves, with the Healthcare industry being ahead of the curve.
“As a leading healthcare organization, we are committed to providing high quality care that respects the individual and ensures patients, employees, and candidates across people, cultures and structures are celebrated and respected for their uniqueness. Our deep commitment to diverse, equitable, and inclusive care delivery has led us to have a broad definition of DEI for our employees and talent as well, one that goes beyond gender, race, and ethnicity, to represent the communities we serve and the way our talent - internally and externally - defines their individual uniqueness.” Daisy Kane, Vice President, Deputy General Counsel at Ochsner Health.
Build the Healthcare Workforce of the Future, Powered by Artificial Intelligence
How the healthcare industry is revolutionizing traditional definitions of ‘workforce flexibility’, ‘reskilling’, and ‘talent diversity’ looks like a prelude to the future of leading corporations in other industries. Many healthcare organizations are turning to AI-powered solutions to accelerate the shifts that these changes can bring to their organizations, especially to reduce the change management, friction, and know-how needed from the business and HR team members to redefine who and how work gets done, and achieve ambitious DEI goals.
To learn more about how HiredScore helps innovative healthcare companies adapt to the future of work, read this one-pager that highlights the HiredScore experience of a Talent Acquisition leader from a leading healthcare company.
3 Key Ingredients For a Proactive Internal Talent Mobility Strategy
Highlights from FORWARD 2023
HR Metrics - Turning Tactical Metrics into Strategy