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Ten Top Trends: How Can Organizations Support Their Employees When They Need It Most?

This blog post is part of our Ten Healthcare Trends Series, presented annually since 2012 by Robin Rose, VP, Healthcare Resources Group.

Trend Two: Healthcare workers will be stressed to the breaking point.

Even before COVID-19 stormed across the world, the healthcare workforce was facing the untenable problem of rising need and a declining workforce. Nursing as a field is facing particular pressures. In its 2018 United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast: A Revisit, the American Journal of Medical Quality predicted a staffing shortfall of 154,018 RNs by 2020, rising to 510,394 RNs by 2030.

Although progress has been made, efforts to foster the pipelines for improving the nursing workforce need to be continued.

Now, the COVID pandemic has added a new urgency to this shortage decades in the making. During the recent Top Ten Trends: How Healthcare Moves Forward in 2021 webinar, HealthStream’s Robin Rose unpacked multiple factors at work that are stretching the healthcare workforce to its limits.

Some 62 percent of caregivers reported symptoms of burnout and chronic workplace stress in the past year. Long hours covering short-staffed days are nothing new. But COVID brings an entirely new dimension to on-the-job stress.  Now every caregiver is caught between the need to give good care and the fear of becoming infected while they deliver that care, and in turn infecting family and friends. And working without proper PPE, equipment, and enough available beds creates a real career and life crisis for many.

Nurses are providing direct care to patients […] Bathing, dressing and giving medications—you can’t do that from six feet away.

– Barbara Resnick; Professor, University of Maryland School of Nursing

The pandemic toll on caregivers’ sense of well-being is troubling. In a September 2020 survey of 12,000 nurses conducted by HealthStream, Nurse Grid, and Keener found that less than a quarter of those surveyed strongly agreed with the following statements:

 Table

In short, caregiver, and nurses in particular are giving their all to others, and have little energy left over to give themselves the care they need to recharge.

You can’t change the dynamics of the pandemic. But you can take three key steps to make the workplace more supportive, predictable, and empowering.

Maximize your workforce’s time and energy with efficient, engaging training.

As the pandemic stretches into its second year, it’s hard to imagine being able to carve out enough time for ongoing training. Finding time and energy to meet compliance and federal requirements are stressors for caregivers. KnowledgeQ by HealthStream  lessens the burden of continuing education by delivering federally required training in an engaging way and improves learner experience by giving them credit for existing knowledge. At the same time, microlearning and personalized learning pathways make learning more relevant. By focusing on employee knowledge gaps, organizations can manage compliance risk while giving time back to their people to focus on patient care and developing themselves.

To optimize patient outcomes, recruit and retain the best people

Competition for top talent has always been fierce. The pandemic makes finding and keeping good people an order of magnitude more difficult. Approximately 23.8 percent of new hires leave within their first year of employment. That’s a difficult dynamic in the best of times, but an untenable one in the midst of the pandemic. How do you find the best people and keep them?

HealthStream’s engagement and retention solutions are built around the idea that the best outcomes happen when the most qualified, best-trained people feel valued and engaged. Using our streamlined screening suite, organizations can optimize hiring and make the candidate’s journey from prospect to new hire more efficient and enjoyable. Once onboard, HealthStream’s leadership assessment tools help you identify and nurture emerging leaders.

Enable your workforce to recognize their peers and staff for their moments of greatness.

You’ve worked hard to ensure your organization can offer competitive compensation and benefits. But you know there’s a lot more to how valued your people feel than what they take home in their paychecks. In a time where more than 65 percent of US healthcare employees report not feeling engaged at work, the power of public recognition cannot be underestimated. In fact, 83 percent of employees say they prefer recognition to other kinds of rewards.

One key differentiator that sets best-in-class organizations apart is a strong, recognition-rich culture that seeks out and celebrates employee excellence. HealthStream’s AMPT  social recognition platform facilitates immediate, specific communication of appreciation and praise among your workforce. Offering peer to peer or manager to employee nudges, with interactive tools like photos, memes, and video sharing, awards, polling and more make AMPT a powerful addition to your culture. And it integrates completely with the HealthStream platform.

There’s no simpler way to say it. Being a caregiver is challenging right now. But the investments you make in supporting and celebrating your workforce know will continue to pay dividends long after we’ve emerged from the pandemic.

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