Conquering The Challenges of Hiring in 2022
The past year has created a tight labor market in all industries, but the medical field in particular has experienced staff shortages. Although all employers have had to be strategic when it comes staffing, hiring medical staff is especially challenging because of the qualifications staff must meet, the difficult nature of the work, and the all-time high level of burnout among experienced workers.
Many independent medical practices are not equipped to handle the challenge on their own. Instead, strategic medical practices are turning to healthcare management services organizations to assist with recruiting, hiring, and employee retention.
Reports of the challenges in the labor market have filled the news for the past year. A confluence of factors, from new COVID-19 variants to an aging population, have made hiring and retaining medical staff difficult even for large hospitals.
Recruiting workers in any industry is extremely challenging in the current labor market, and it is particularly challenging to find new employees in the health care field. Even in 2019, before the pandemic dramatically changed the labor market, experts were predicting health care staffing shortages, both due to the number of healthcare workers nearing retirement age and the increasing medical needs of an aging population. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of job openings for registered nurses will well outpace the number of openings in other fields over the coming decade.
Because so many positions in the medical field require licensing or other specific qualifications, recruiting can be more challenging than it is in industries like hospitality or manufacturing. Switching into a medical career from another field takes more than responding to a job posting, often necessitating some combination of specialized education, training, or experience that most job applicants simply do not possess.
As more and more experienced medical professionals leave the field, the pool of qualified candidates is dwindling.
At the same time, targeting job listings for qualified candidates and sifting through applications from untrained workers requires either a lot of time or a well-thought-out strategy.
Hiring Employees and Onboarding
Onboarding new employees in medical practices is often difficult and time-consuming. In addition to the onboarding requirements for employees in general, like tax forms and general employee policies, medical offices must verify licensure and conduct comprehensive training in policies and procedures required for all medical workers, such as HIPAA training and patient care procedures. Onboarding a new hire often takes days.
Employee Retention and Burnout
The expense and time demands of recruiting and onboarding will only get worse, as more and more health care workers plan to quit their jobs. A survey by Elsevier Health found that 47% of healthcare workers plan to resign in the next two to three years. Another survey found that nearly 20% of health care workers already left their jobs during the pandemic.
Healthcare worker burnout has reached such high levels that the U.S. Surgeon General issued a special report addressing it. Burnout in medical workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been widely reported. From fear of infection to facing the loss of patients to the difficulty of dealing with personal protective equipment and infection control, medical staff have recently faced unprecedented challenges. In addition, the staff shortages themselves are causing medical workout burnout, causing even more workers to leave the field.
Low levels of staffing, meanwhile, mean that existing staff must take on the burden of more work, experience higher levels of stress, and feel decreased job satisfaction even as the quality of care is impacted.
Another challenge in medical staffing is the rising cost of labor. In addition to the labor shortage, the global economy is experiencing higher-than-normal levels of inflation, with higher wages contributing. As inflation increases, workers are demanding higher wages to keep up with higher costs of living.
Working in a medical office is hard work. From nursing and other direct patient-care roles to administrative roles like managing the reception desk and scheduling, this work often involves interacting with sick or frustrated patients or family members. Patients often save these complaints for staff at the front desk or their nurse rather than express them to the doctors or other medical providers, meaning that some of the staff members with the least control over patient care or wait times are responsible for fielding the bulk of the complaints about those issues.
Despite the many challenges of hiring medical staff and maintaining employee retention in 2022, independent medical practices can still use two strategies to maintain good staffing levels: retain current employees and hire a healthcare management services organization.
Focus on Employee Retention
Outside of across-the-board raises for everyone, you can take certain steps to promote employee retention and prevent burnout. These steps could include the following:
- Employee appreciation. Express your appreciation for your employees with regular recognition of a job well done. Harvard Business Review reported that, according to recent research, employees in the health care industry are more likely to be motivated by symbolic recognition rather than monetary incentives.
- Promoting. Recognizing the potential in an employee to move on to a new role is an excellent way to retain employees. One study found that promotions had a significant impact on short-term job satisfaction.
- Opportunities to grow. Outside of a promotion, challenging employees with new tasks and helping them to learn new skills will prevent employees from becoming bored or stagnant in their careers and help motivate them, boosting morale.
- Being more attentive to their struggles. Most importantly, ensure that your employees are heard. From addressing complaints about issues in the workplace to promoting a healthy work-life balance with appropriate time for self-care, acknowledging your employees’ concerns will help prevent burnout and retain good employees.
Hire a Full-Service Healthcare Management Services Organization
Independent medical practices often struggle with navigating staffing issues. Doctors and other health care workers get into the field to provide patient care, not to deal with human resource issues. Small and mid-sized medical offices find the most success after hiring a full-service healthcare management services organization like TRIARQ Health. Such organizations can perform many human resource tasks for medical offices to address the many challenges of hiring medical staff and retaining existing staff in 2022. Some of these services include:
- Hiring and firing