by Dave Muoio | October 5, 2021
The provider industry is caught in the midst of a widespread labor crunch that, according to recent data, shows no sign of slowing down in the months and years to come.
At best, the shortage of workers has led to incremental increases in labor expenses and warnings to investors that margins may run a bit tighter in the coming quarters.
At worst, understaffed units, rampant overtime and burnout are leading a growing number of nurses and other healthcare workers to retire or transition to another industry.
The short- and long-term threats of understaffing have led several systems to open their wallets.
Among the most prominent of these efforts came from Washington-based Providence, which announced this month that it would be investing more than $220 million into various bonuses and pay adjustments in an effort to retain its more than 120,000 employees and fill its roughly 17,000 job openings. Recent weeks have also seen reports of five-figure signing bonuses for nurses and a return of the workforcewide retention bonuses that were common during the first year of the pandemic.
Alongside a hiring push, a recent survey of 150 health systems conducted by professional services firm Aon suggested that more healthcare employers are adopting a broader portfolio of benefits for their workforces. With 93% of respondents saying they are considering benefits strategies related to attracting and retaining workers, offers like tuition reimbursement and greater healthcare coverage have become commonplace in the competitive healthcare labor market.