The clinical workforce is at a crisis point across virtually all direct care roles. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges to workforce stability, causing more staff members than ever to decide that now is the time to leave their jobs, some even leaving the industry altogether.
We hosted an interdisciplinary summit for more than 100 directors, VPs, and executives across HR, nursing, physician, and operational leadership to explore ways to improve their workforce strategy—and better understand what motivates staff to stay or leave.
Below, find three things you should know to advance your clinical workforce strategy as discussed at the summit.
1. Compensation and benefits matter—but if you really want to improve clinician satisfaction, focus on the work environment.
Offering competitive total rewards is critical to attracting and retaining staff, but compensation and benefits won't outweigh an unstainable environment. Total rewards do not solve the root cause of disengagement, and are hard to outcompete on.
This spring, we surveyed over 1,000 clinicians in a variety of roles. The top two reasons clinicians indicated that motivated them to leave their previous job are tied to the work environment: feeling burned out or feeling undervalued.
To retain clinical talent, increase support for staff well-being, recognition, and work-life balance. This can include offering more workplace flexibility and creating an environment that facilitates staff making meaningful connections with colleagues and patients.
2. Your employee value proposition should reflect the intersection of what staff want and where the organization excels.
An employee value proposition is a tool that articulates an employer's unique strengths. A compelling employee value proposition can improve retention and support the recruitment of top talent whose interests align with the organization's culture and offerings.
Since there is fierce competition for clinical talent, right now is an important moment for every organization to re-evaluate their employee value proposition—or build one if they haven't. Whether building one from scratch or revising an existing one, the steps are the same:
1. Collect feedback from top employees.
Use an employee survey to collect feedback on current financial rewards, employee benefits, and company culture to find out what motivates top performers to stay or leave. Common questions to include in an employee survey are:
- What first attracted you to this company?
- What do you find challenging about working here?
2. Define 3-5 attributes that will make up the employee value proposition.
Analyze the employee survey to determine what current employees value most and what you might need to offer to attract other employees in the future, and choose those areas to make up your employee value proposition. Mainly focus on strengthening components that the organization already does well, while also choosing one component that involves more investment.
3. Make sure the employee value proposition is known across the organization.
Every employee, including those on the leadership team, must be able to see the employee value proposition reflected in their daily work. Communicate the attributes that make up your employee value proposition broadly to your staff, and invite them to help share the message outside of the company to support the recruitment of top talent.
3. Developing a more diverse candidate pipeline is the key to strengthening your workforce.
Even after years of focus, many pools of talent are still underrepresented in the clinical workforce. Underrepresented minorities in health care include, Latinos, Black, and Native Americans, among other groups.
In addition to having a larger candidate pool to choose from, diversifying the clinician pipeline will lead to clinicians better reflecting the demographics of the community. Representation leads to an increase in patient compliance and improved outcomes.
While inequities exist across all parts of employment, start by reforming the hiring process by taking steps like:
- Assessing clinical workforce composition to identify who is underrepresented
- Designing paths for more people from underrepresented groups to become clinicians
- Evaluating role requirements that could potentially deter qualified applicants
Parting thoughts: What next steps will you choose to take?
The summit was a terrific opportunity for leaders to collaborate on staffing challenges—but the progress can't end there. We asked all leaders present at the summit to commit to one action step to take in the next 6-12 months to shore up their clinician workforce.
Ideas such as allocating resources to assist low-income employees with childcare, or conducting monthly employee listening sessions with rotating groups of frontline staff, help leaders truly move forward on their workforce goals.
Now it's your turn. What's one change you can make as a leader to improve the state of your clinical workforce?