Healthcare faces talent acquisition challenges amid understaffing concerns

By the Editors

This past summer, HRO Today Magazine and Clinical Magnet launched an online study to address the perceived impact of hospital staffing among human resources professionals in hospitals and health systems. bResults indicate that professionals believe health systems are both understaffed and under-occupied.

The study also found that hospitals and health systems have underfunded staff, which has led to lost revenue opportunities. At the same time, HR professionals feel that they are asked to accomplish nearly impossible tasks in workforce recruitment and retention given the current investments in infrastructure, technology, and HR staff levels. Nearly one-half (48.1 percent) of respondents with staffing needs reported difficulty finding the right hires as the biggest reason for understaffing.

Hospital HR professionals say the lack of staff covering demand is a major reason for not achieving a higher census, which is above 80 percent only about half of the time. This is the second most commonly cited reason for census variability in the study. Lack of staffing also adversely impacts patient care and new wellness programs and puts added stress on staff -these, in turn, result in increased turnover. More than three-quarters (78. 8 percent) of respondents agreed that they could achieve higher patient satisfaction scores with additional headcount, according to the survey.

Open beds were another revenue concern. Published estimates show that on average one patient stay amounts to nearly $12,000 for non-profit hospitals and $8,400 in for-profit hospitals.

According to the survey, there are many reasons why occupancy fluctuates, including the varying demand for beds cited by nearly two-thirds (64.1 percent) of study respondents. But the second most cited reason for the census variability is the lack of employees scheduled to cover the beds, cited by 28.1 percent of respondents.

For nearly one-half (49.3 percent) of study respondents, a higher demand for beds than can be accommodated occurs daily or weekly. It’s not because of a lack of beds, but rather because of inadequate staffing levels that occur 48.2 percent of the time. In fact, nearly two-thirds (62. 1 percent) of study respondents stated that their hospitals could have a higher census if there were more employees devoted to patient care.

Wellness programs are important to respondents, who believe they could be beneficial. The lack of staff to organize them, however, results in underutilization.

Respondents overwhelmingly agreed that hiring more employees would allow them to offer more wellness programs. Wellness programs can be either for employees or patients and provide cost savings for employees or a revenue center in patient care.

The average ROI of wellness programs is an incremental 53. 4 percent, but the need for qualified program staffing is the major reason that those programs are not being implemented more often. Further, one-half (54.0 percent) of study respondents with wellness programs were very interested in expanding them.


HRO Today magazine and Clinical Magnet, the recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) division of Supplemental Health Care, launched an online study on Aug. 20, 2015 that addressed the perceptions, among Human Resources professionals in hospitals or health systems, of the impact of hospital staffing. Study participants were those either identified through the Question Pro Panel Network as being involved in staffing decisions in hospitals (NAICS 622000) or through a prequalified list of respondents of HRO Today magazine subscribers. All participants were screened to confirm they had input on staffing levels and hiring decisions and were employed at hospitals or health systems. In total, there were 75 usable responses on service quality and operations

Tags: Healthcare Workforce, Talent Acquisition

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