Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

Managing Today's Workforce to Meet Tomorrow's Challenges

Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

Managing Today's Workforce to Meet Tomorrow's Challenges

Article excerpt


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects healthcare occupations to be among the fastest growing between 2016 and 2026 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017). Even with technology's increasing importance, it is therefore not just a cliché that human capital is healthcare's greatest asset.

Unfortunately, healthcare has been experiencing a talent shortage for several years, and the shortage continues to worsen. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that the United States will face a talent gap of between 40,800 and 104,906 physicians by 2030 (McLaren 2018). The US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the registered nurse (RN) workforce will grow from 2.96 million in 2016 to 3.39 million in 2026, meaning that about 438,000 more nurses will be needed in addition to those who are replaced (US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018). Similar talent shortages can be expected across the entire healthcare workforce, including in allied health, information technology (IT), and many support positions (Health Resources and Services Administration 2018).

This talent shortage, viewed in the context of generally low US unemployment rates, is leading to a potential crisis for talent competition among healthcare providers. Meanwhile, new entrants to the healthcare space, including Walmart, Walgreens, CVS Health, Amazon, and Google's Alphabet, are competing for this talent, too.

Aside from these external (national, regional, and local) factors, internal (organizational) factors that contribute to high turnover among healthcare staff include the following:

* Lack of career advancement opportunities

* Low pay and reduced benefits

* Oppressive management or work environment

* Poor job fit

* Lack of flexibility in work schedules

* Lack of job security

The churn of talent in healthcare only aggravates the issue. The average turnover of healthcare staff in 2017 was 20.6 percent, up from 15.6 percent in 2010 (Rosenbaum 2018). In fact, healthcare's turnover trails only that in the hospitality industry (Rosenbaum 2018).

Given these circumstances, retaining talent is crucial to daily operations in healthcare. Unfortunately, retention efforts are up against the retirement of baby boomers, the disinclination of millennials to stay with one organization for long (Spann 2016), salary compression among different skill and qualification levels, and job opportunities in the broader healthcare sector, such as health insurance, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies.

Recruiting and Retaining Talent

Organizations can apply a number of strategies for recruiting and retaining talent to ensure the delivery of quality healthcare in their communities. The following are some examples:

* Comprehensive workforce planning. A strategic workforce plan should cover an extended period, in the range of five to ten years. It should identify talent gaps and develop strategies to fill them. The process should also include succession planning. Human resource (HR) leaders should use strategic planning to recruit the desired talent. It is important to hone the hiring process to identify individuals with the necessary capabilities. Hiring the right talent for the right job at the right time gives an organization a competitive advantage.

* Streamlined recruitment and hiring processes. Organizations lose out on many candidates when the recruitment process is extended by too many interviews. They should apply predictive analytics to determine when and where to post jobs externally. They should maximize automation (e.g., by using applicant tracking systems) and revamp the onboarding process to be more efficient.

* Sustainable employee and career development programs. Healthcare lags behind many industries that are investing in internal talent and skill development programs. With talent shortages projected to continue for years to come, internal development programs are imperative, not optional. …

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