Healthcare occupations are experiencing strong employment growth, and the need for qualified healthcare workers is expected to grow faster than any other field over the next ten years. Between 2014 and 2024, the number of positions related to healthcare will increase by 19 percent, adding approximately 2.3 million new jobs to the U.S. economy.
Hospitals understand that keeping these positions filled with skilled workers is going to be a challenge, and the most successful are moving towards a new staffing strategy. Instead of competing for full-time workers with higher-than-average compensation and benefits — a strategy that rapidly leads to financial crisis — innovative hospitals are adopting an agile workforce staffing strategy. This strategy shifts the focus to short-term contractors and other types of alternative workers to fill positions on an as-needed basis.
Balancing Workers’ Interests With Business Needs
Hiring permanent full-time employees has always been complicated for hospitals. Changing payor arrangements, fluctuations in the volume of work, legislative change, the economy, service derivation, changes in ownership, financial considerations and changes in the labor market contribute to the complexity of creating balance between workers’ interests and business needs. Keeping appropriate staffing levels is critical to employee satisfaction and patient care, but excessive payroll drains resources from all areas of the business.
Many hospitals are migrating to a more flexible staffing model, using outsourcing options, independent contractors and crowdsourcing techniques to supplement core staff with additional workers on an as-needed basis. This technique, often referred to as an agile workforce strategy, ensures that the right amount of labor is available to care for patients, regardless of changes in the business landscape.
The Agile Workforce: Benefits for Workers
Today’s healthcare workers aren’t pushing back when it comes to interim work and consulting. In fact, they have embraced the opportunities available through flexible work. Instead of seeking full-time, permanent positions, they are making a career out of short-term and as-needed employment. They have discovered that a professional decision to work in a variety of settings brings continuous learning and development. They build valuable skills, increasing their overall employability long-term. For example, a consultant who has successfully supported many organizations brings greater value to the next and is therefore more employable.
In an employment market where the permanency of any regular position is highly dependent on business needs and can change at any time, the experience and skills from multiple short-term jobs brings a more reliable form of job security. Some hospital administrators wonder about whether such a worker can be truly loyal to the organization, but this concern is unnecessary. An interim worker’s next job relies on excellence in the current position, motivating short-term contractors to work harder than their peers in traditional permanent positions.
The workforce has changed dramatically as Millennials become the biggest generation in today’s labor pool. Their presence creates new challenges, in addition to new opportunities for teams to reach unprecedented goals. Changing priorities means an increased focus on work/life blend and employee engagement and a decreased emphasis on tenure. With technology advancing at lightning speed, the work is changing as well. Process innovation, along with new models and management practices, have hospitals continuously rethinking organization structure, workflow and the use of human capital. When all of these factors combine, an agile workforce is the only logical solution for hospitals to succeed and grow.
Nearterm recognizes the agile workforce and our 360? RCM Managed Services help healthcare organizations meet their staffing needs, from patient access to accounts receivable to consultants and interim management. Contact Nearterm to learn how we can help your organization eliminate a backlog or backfill on a special project.