Will bonuses and benefits be enough to tackle healthcare’s workforce shortages?

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.

These shortages have also fueled labor disputes from New York to California, the results of which are often worker strikes and subsequent disruptions in patient care.

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.


Chris J. Stewart

Chris currently serves as President and CEO of Surgio Health. Chris has close to 20 years of healthcare management experience, with an infinity to improve healthcare delivery through the development and implementation of innovative solutions that result in improved efficiencies, reduction of unnecessary financial & clinical variation, and help achieve better patient outcomes. Previously, Chris was assistant vice president and business unit leader for HPG/HCA. He has presented at numerous healthcare forums on topics that include disruptive innovation, physician engagement, shifting reimbursement models, cost per clinical episode and the future of supply chain delivery.

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