You don’t need a medical degree to understand why so many healthcare workers are struggling. Over the last three years, our country’s medical professionals have been on the front lines of an epic battle, working extra hours and risking their own health and safety to help others. And that kind of pressure takes a toll. Since the start of the pandemic, the industry has seen a noticeable increase in burnout and resignations. With healthcare needs still high, those resignations only compound the problem further, putting more stress and demand on those still in the field and ultimately inviting more burnout.
Here at Keep Financial, we recently surveyed a sample of U.S. healthcare workers to learn more about employee sentiment, engagement, compensation, and retention, and the results were telling. Of the nearly 300 healthcare workers surveyed, only 54% said they felt valued, and more than 40% said they were considering leaving their job within the next year. When asked why, a few answers rose above the rest. Better pay came in on top, with 56% of respondents citing it as a prominent reason for considering resigning. Feeling undervalued came in second at 49%, followed closely by burnout at 46%.
Unfortunately, these results are not surprising, and they mirror the findings of other industry surveys and reports. For example, ConnectRN, a healthcare staffing platform, recently found that half the nurses they polled had thoughts of leaving the profession. Additionally, 65% said there’s not enough staff, which contributes to burnout, and 34% noted a lack of respect for their work. Another recent survey of healthcare executives found that nearly 75% of those asked reported burnout within the past six months, and 93% thought burnout was adversely affecting their companies.
This negative sentiment across the industry presents a number of challenges. A staffing shortage can create dangerous conditions for patients. Workers stretched thin and taking on additional caseloads can lead to both increased errors and delays. One recent study suggested that more than two thirds of Americans experienced delays or challenges in getting the care they needed during the second half of 2022. Staffing shortages are also costly, forcing hospitals and healthcare providers to spend more time and money on recruiting, offer higher salaries to attract talent from a shrinking pool, and rely more on expensive contract workers to fill the gaps.
Searching for a Cure
So, what can be done to combat resignations? Let’s start by looking at what’s driving them. According to our survey, desire for better pay, feeling undervalued, and experiencing burnout are top reasons workers are considering leaving. One way to address these issues is to reexamine compensation models. It’s no secret that the right compensation perks can go a long way toward attracting and retaining top talent. Of course, employee needs depend on individual priorities and stage of life, so it’s hard to come up with a one-size-fits-all offer. Instead, employers must consider what value means to each employee and focus on delivering a customized package.
One way to do this is to include a vesting cash bonus as a package perk – this would be a lump sum of cash delivered upfront and earned over time. No matter the age or personal priorities of the employee, an upfront cash bonus can make a measurable impact on someone’s life and help address issues around feeling undervalued and wanting better pay. An employer giving an employee the ability to make a significant life change – such as paying off debt, buying a home, or creating a retirement account – can go a long way towards changing sentiment, improving motivation, and extending tenure. And, an increase in longer tenures means more staff on hand and better distributed patient loads, which can help reduce burnout. Our recent survey suggests this approach has broad appeal for those in the field, with 85% saying they would take an upfront cash bonus (beyond existing compensation) in exchange for agreeing to stay with their company for a specified period of time.
So, while there’s no silver bullet that will cure the healthcare staffing crisis, listening to medical professionals and making some adjustments to better address their financial needs is a great place to start.