Strategies For Mitigating The Healthcare Workforce Shortage (2024)

Mitigating The Healthcare Workforce Shortage

Healthcare agencies are experiencing a nationwide shortage. While shortages have always existed, they have become far more prevalent since the pandemic. Even though the pandemic has ended, the severity of shortages has not.

Healthcare facilities must figure out how to mitigate shortages to continue to provide the same care their clients have long expected, which can mean trying various options to see what works.

Some of the different things healthcare facilities can try include the following.

Work With Staffing Agencies

Work With Staffing Agencies in Healthcare

Staffing agencies like offer help with finding and hiring locum tenens surgeons.

Short-term help can be accessed easier and healthcare facilities know they’re able to find someone who will fit with their team and be an asset while the additional help is needed.

With a staffing agency, healthcare facilities can easily fill any gap in care, allowing them to continue to provide all services to patients and ensure the expected quality of care is met or exceeded.

Adjust the Schedules

Schedules may not be set to where they provide maximum coverage when it’s needed and allow for minimal coverage during times that aren’t as busy.

It’s important to take a close look at the schedule to see what can be adjusted and what may need to change temporarily or permanently to provide sufficient coverage for all open hours.

Adjusting the schedule can take some time, as it’s necessary to play around with it a bit to determine the best options.

As circumstances change, the schedules may need to change, too. Keeping an eye on the scheduling and adjusting it regularly can help minimize the impact of shortages.

Postpone Non-Essential Procedures

In the short term, there may just not be enough staff to cover all procedures offered by the healthcare facility. At this point, it may be necessary to cancel or postpone non-essential procedures.

While this can be upsetting to clients, it may be necessary to keep the quality of care they expect and to prevent long waits for clients. Canceling may be needed if there isn’t an end in sight to the shortage.

If a healthcare facility is currently working with a staffing agency or hiring new staff, it may be better to postpone the procedures for a few months to allow the staffing levels to stabilize.

Offer Better Incentives

Better Incentives for Healthcare Workers

Incentives can help bring in new talent or encourage current staff to stay in their position. There are numerous ways to increase the incentives offered to new and existing employees, including the following.

  • Schedule Flexibility: A more flexible schedule can benefit everyone involved, as staff can be sure they’ll be able to take time off when it’s needed. This can help decrease burnout and encourage employees to be at work when they’re scheduled.
  • Increase Salaries: Better pay makes it more likely employees will stay. Even if the pay is already competitive for the position, it may not provide enough stability for the workers. Increasing their pay can help them be happier with their job and want to stay longer.
  • Sign-on Bonuses: For new employees, offering a sign-on bonus or providing funds to cover relocating expenses can help. Employees moving from out of state may need these bonuses to make the move possible for them.
  • Tuition Assistance: Going to school is costly. To attract new graduates, offering tuition assistance for those continuing their education or loan forgiveness for those who have just graduated can help encourage them to apply.
  • Retirement Plans: Saving for retirement is a common worry, so offering to help with that can encourage employees to stay with the healthcare facility. Consider matching contributions or other ways to help with retirement planning.
  • Discounted Child Care: Many staff members are parents, so they need reliable childcare to be able to work. Unfortunately, it’s expensive. By offering discounts for child care, employees are better able to afford it and able to work more frequently.

Encourage Accepting More Hours

Healthcare Workers Long Hours

Forcing additional work can cause burnout and lead to an increased staffing shortage instead of solving the problem.

Instead of forcing it, there are ways to encourage employees to accept more hours and be willing to work more frequently.

  • Reward Loyalty and Passion: Offer rewards for loyalty and staying with the job longer, as well as for showing their passion for the job they do. Doing this shows employees they are a valued part of the team, which can encourage them to continue working with the company.
  • Increase Overtime Pay: Overtime pay can be a huge benefit to those who work longer hours. Increasing the overtime pay can encourage them to work more, especially when there are times when they may need a little extra cash.
  • Allow Cash-in of PTO: Employees may not need to use all of their paid time off, but they may feel forced to take time off or risk losing the PTO they’ve acquired. Instead, allow them to cash it in. Doing this means they won’t take time off before it expires and they don’t feel like they’re losing it.
  • Improve Working Environment: Improvements to the work environment go a long way towards keeping employees and reducing the potential for burnout. Talk to employees to see what can be done to improve the working environment and implement any practical ideas.

Reexamine Protocols for Returning to Work

Strategies For Mitigating The Healthcare Workforce Shortage (2024)

During the pandemic, long absences were common for healthcare providers who became sick.

They could not work with the public, and since there wasn’t much known about how long someone was contagious, guidelines stated that anyone who was sick must avoid work for a certain period of time.

Official guidelines for this have been adjusted, so it may be time to adjust the policies, too. Shortening the required time off can help employees come back to work faster once they feel better and still protect patients.

The healthcare shortage is impacting just about every facility today, but there are ways to get around it and cultivate a better workplace.

Take the time to look into all of these options to see what’s going to work best for your healthcare facility and what might help you mitigate the issues caused by the shortage.