The Changing Role of Healthcare HR Leaders: New Strategies to Recruit and Retain the Next Generation Workforce

July 13, 2023
July 13, 2023

This blog is taken from a recent HealthStream webinar entitled “The Changing Role of Healthcare HR Leaders: New Strategies to Recruit and Retain the Next Generation Workforce.” The webinar was moderated by HealthStream’s Senior Product Marketing Manager, Sarah Enders and featured Robin Rose, HealthStream’s Thought Leadership Consultant and former Vice President of Healthcare Resources. 

Nearly every industry is facing significant HR challenges, perhaps none more profound than those facing healthcare organizations. HealthStream recently surveyed healthcare HR leaders to quantify the problem and to learn more about the strategies being implemented by HR leaders to manage the staffing crisis.


Scheduling Flexibility – More Important than Ever

“Scheduling flexibility has been used in the healthcare industry for over 60 years but now that we are living in a post-pandemic world, maybe, now more than ever, scheduling flexibility has taken on a greater significance and is beginning to change the entire industry.” This is a quote from Mary Flenner. It appears in a March 2023 article from The ARRA group entitled (Even More) Flexible Nurse Schedules, the New Norm?

Rose pointed out that in the past, flexible scheduling was a “nice to have” benefit, but in the post-pandemic world of worsening healthcare staffing shortages, scheduling flexibility has taken on greater significance. Creating that kind of flexibility is challenging though and HealthStream’s recent survey of HR leaders has focused on the issue and the role of HR leadership in managing the staffing crisis.


The Survey Says…

The survey was conducted in April of 2023 and 59 HR leaders responded. Respondents were asked to use a 10-point scale in their responses with one being the lowest rating and 10 the highest. They represented organizations that employed between 50 and more than 20,000 employees with most respondents reporting that they were from mid-sized organizations employing between 100 and 500 employees.

Respondents were first asked to rate current levels of employee engagement and burnout. HR leaders indicated that employee engagement was in the moderate range with a mean score of just 5.84 and rated burnout slightly higher with a mean score of 6.43 which Rose described as in the concerning range and fairly typical of what HealthStream has seen in employee surveys over the last year or so.


HR Priorities

It is perhaps not at all surprising that when asked to rate initiatives based on priority levels, one of the highest rated priorities was retaining existing staff with a mean score of 9.6. Rose explained that this score means that virtually every respondent rated this as a 9 or a 10 in terms of priority. Recruiting new staff had a similar score of 8.9. Improving employee engagement was also identified as a high priority item while they expressed only mild interest in adding new technology that would help them support flexible scheduling initiatives.

Other attributes related to retention and recruitment received similarly high scores.


  • Improving employee engagement (8.6)
  • Containing labor costs (8.3)
  • Reducing staff burnout and improving staff well being (8.0)


Prioritizing Scheduling Features

Respondents were asked questions about the importance of scheduling features and the value of key scheduling system capabilities. The data made it clear that HR leaders want a scheduling system that is efficient as this attribute was rated as most important. They also said that they wanted a system that would increase engagement and reduce burnout. Similarly, they rated being able to provide early indicators of burnout and supporting work-life balance as highly important features. Also, as big data drives decision in all industries, including healthcare, they rated providing management data as highly important. “Leaders want to be able to see workforce trends and use that data to improve patient care and safety,” said Rose.


The Impact of Flexible Scheduling on Healthcare

The impact of flexible scheduling can be far-reaching – on employees and their employers. Respondents were also asked about their level of agreement with statements about the impact of flexible scheduling on various attributes. There were high levels of agreement with the following statements:


  • Flexible scheduling can lead to high levels of engagement. (8.3)
  • Flexible scheduling can help reduce employee burnout (8.1)
  • Flexible scheduling can lead to improved employee mental health (8.1)


Flexible Scheduling – The Conclusions

After reviewing the research data, Rose shared four key conclusions.


  1. Improving employee engagement and reducing burnout are key priorities for healthcare leaders.
  2. Flexible scheduling is seen as an important strategy in improving engagement and reducing burnout.
  3. Flexible scheduling is no longer perceived as a perk, but rather a key business tool for HR leaders as they address recruitment, retention, engagement and employee mental health issues.
  4. There is more that HR leaders can do to provide additional flexibility to employees.