Five ways to improve staffing in healthcare

The healthcare industry is facing a staffing crisis. There is a shortage of healthcare workers, and this is leading to problems with patient care, job satisfaction, and turnover.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 275,000 additional nurses are needed from 2020 to 2030. Employment opportunities for nurses are projected to grow at a faster rate (9%) than all other occupations from 2016 through 2026.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the staffing challenges, as healthcare workers are grappling with high levels of fear, fatigue and stress, with widespread burnout fueling turnover as employees seek positions with fewer stressors.

Staffing shortages have dire effects on patient care, as patient-to-nurse staffing ratios get distorted, leading to delays in care, difficulty getting hospital beds, and poorer healthcare outcomes. Staffing shortages also have financial implications for healthcare facilities, as they have to invest significant resources to recruit and retain staff².

Five ways to improve staffing in healthcare

1. Increase salaries and benefits

Healthcare workers are in high demand, so salaries and benefits are a major factor in attracting and retaining them. Hospitals should consider increasing salaries and benefits for all healthcare workers, especially nurses, to match the market rates and reward their hard work.

Before you make any changes to salaries or benefits, it’s important to understand what other organizations in your area are offering their employees. This will help you ensure that you’re competitive and that you’re not underpaying your staff.

2. Offer flexible scheduling

Many healthcare workers have families and other obligations outside of work. Offering flexible scheduling can help them balance their work and personal lives, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and decreased burnout. Flexible scheduling can include staggered start times, overlapping shifts, job sharing, or self-scheduling.

3. Invest in training and development

Healthcare workers need ongoing training and development to stay up-to-date on the latest medical knowledge and procedures. Hospitals should invest in training and development programs for all healthcare workers, which can help them improve their skills and knowledge, which in turn can lead to better patient care. Training and development can also increase employee engagement and loyalty.

4. Create a positive work environment

A positive work environment is one where healthcare workers feel valued, respected, and supported. Hospitals should create a positive work environment by providing adequate staffing, promoting teamwork, fostering a culture of respect, being transparent with staff about the staffing challenges they are facing, celebrating the successes of staff, listening to staff’s concerns, making sure staff has the resources they need to do their jobs, and taking care of staff’s well-being.

5. Address the root causes of burnout

Burnout is a major problem in the healthcare industry. Hospitals should address the root causes of burnout, such as excessive workload, long hours, lack of control over work, lack of recognition, lack of autonomy, lack of feedback, lack of social support, or exposure to trauma or death⁵. By addressing the root causes of burnout, hospitals can help their staff avoid burnout and improve their well-being.

In addition to these strategies, hospitals can also work to improve staffing by partnering with nursing schools and other educational institutions to create a pipeline of qualified healthcare workers. Hospitals can also offer tuition reimbursement programs to help their staff pay for continuing education and certification.

By taking these steps, hospitals can improve staffing and create a more positive work environment for their healthcare workers. This can lead to better patient care, increased job satisfaction, and decreased turnover.

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