As the world grappled with the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare workers were on the frontlines risking their lives to help combat the crisis. Hospitals and medical facilities across the country faced insurmountable challenges during the height of the outbreak, like obtaining crucial personal protective equipment and ventilators. And while we’ve overcome these hurdles, they’ve now been replaced with a new, equally pressing dilemma: post-pandemic staffing shortages

At J.P. Morgan’s 40th Annual Health Care Conference, C-suite executives from America’s most prominent health systems revealed the number one issue they’re facing is staffing and labor challenges. Although businesses across sectors are coping with staffing issues, the problem is particularly acute in the healthcare space after a demanding two years of providing care during the pandemic. 

Stress and burnout have largely contributed to staffing shortages, with hospitals and health systems experiencing increased turnover. The widening talent gap is also a product of early retirements, people exiting the profession altogether and workers pursuing new opportunities. With thousands of healthcare positions open across the nation, executives and leaders must be strategic in their approach to hiring moving forward. And the problem is only expected to worsen in the coming years. New York, for instance, is projected to experience a shortage of over 500,000 healthcare workers by 2026.

As your leadership team actively works to address your recruitment needs, here are 4 strategies to help your organization overcome post-pandemic staffing shortages. 

  1. Improve Access & Efficiency via Telehealth Services

While routines may be returning to normal, the use of telehealth will continue to prove beneficial. Virtual care is an effective way to manage patient volume, improve access to care, and decrease costs associated with in-office visits. For patients, it offers a convenient, on-demand solution for seeking medical care, regardless of where they’re located geographically. Hospitals and Healthcare facilities should continue – and even expand upon – their telehealth services to drive efficiency, reduce burnout and tap into a wider pool of both patients and providers. 

  1. Invest in Your Workforce

Retention is equally important in mitigating costs and delivering quality care. Many health systems are investing in their current and future staff by offering additional incentives and perks. From sign-on bonuses to child care services, there is a myriad of avenues to explore when it comes to strengthening corporate culture and offerings. For instance, implementing a workflow tool designed to minimize administrative burden can help reduce backlog and stress while improving productivity levels. These efforts are an effective way of communicating to staff that you recognize their value and are willing to invest in their success and happiness. 

  1. Education and Training Opportunities 

From continued education to advanced training programs, today’s healthcare workers are looking to align themselves with organizations that actively invest in professional development. According to STAT, “CommonSpirit Health, the largest health system in Illinois, now has the largest nurse residency program in the country. Prisma Health, the largest health system in South Carolina, is partnering with colleges and universities to build out and accelerate training programs and, in some cases, will offer help with tuition.”

Supporting current staff and potential hires in their quest for upward mobility and career advancement will help drive organizational growth and improve employee satisfaction. Whether it’s an opportunity to utilize new technology, like surgical robots, assuming a wider breadth of responsibilities, attending industry events or the chance to oversee a new department, creating long-term buy-in and loyalty requires organizations to place an emphasis on professional development. 

  1. Embrace a Flexible Staffing Model

To weather the volatility brought on by the pandemic, healthcare facilities should implement flexible staffing strategies to accommodate fluctuations in patient volume. This also means taking a proactive approach to hiring and planning for future needs. By aligning with a healthcare staffing agency, you can build a pipeline of pre-vetted candidates to decrease your time-to-fill and ensure your organization is maximizing profitability. 

If health systems learned anything from the arrival of the pandemic, it’s the need to be agile in the face of uncertainty. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, maintaining this mindset and heeding learnings from Covid-19 will ensure your organization is equipped to thrive even in the most challenging times. At Polaris, our team of recruitment experts can devise a strategy to address both your short and long-term needs. To learn more about how we can help you overcome staffing challenges, contact us today.