It’s often said that a company’s greatest assets are its employees. While true across industries, this is especially pertinent in healthcare. The best medical professionals are highly trained and compassionate; responsibility for the lives of others is part of their daily routine.

Meeting the needs of such a workforce is no small task, especially in today’s rapidly changing medical industry. Read on for five of the most pressing challenges facing HR healthcare professionals today. 

High Turnover Rates

Recruitment is central to any HR department. But in the healthcare industry, it can be especially time consuming and challenging. 

With low supply and high demand, healthcare professionals can easily leave jobs to pursue new opportunities. Unemployment in the industry is at 2.4%—the lowest in over a decade—and 391,000 new jobs have been added over the last 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Turnover among nurses is especially high. According to a recent industry survey, the turnover rate for bedside registered nurses is 14.6%, meaning that hospitals will lose nearly 15 out of 100 nurses this year. Replacing nurses in such a competitive market isn’t easy, or cheap. After accounting for recruitment, overtime and onboarding costs, the Journal of Nursing Administration estimates that it can cost up to $82,000 to replace a single staff nurse.

Staff Shortages

Healthcare’s recruitment problem is only getting more challenging. In response to advances in medicine, new technologies and an aging population, the entire industry needs more workers over the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare will add more jobs than any other industry through 2026, accounting for about 2.4 million new positions.

Just as patients are aging, the medical workforce is aging, as well. As baby boomers retire, hospitals are scrambling to fill positions. By 2025, the nursing shortage is expected to be more than twice as large as in previous shortages, according to Vanderbilt University researchers

Records Compliance 

State and federal laws mandate that employee records are stored securely, as breaches can result in fraud and identity theft. Maintaining records compliance can be a laborious process in the healthcare industry organizations as they face high turnover rates, large numbers of part-time employees, multiple office locations and complex licensing paperwork. 

Additionally, the healthcare industry is increasingly targeted by hackers and phishing schemes. Data breaches are on the rise, according to Thomson Reuters, due to large amounts of valuable digital data and insufficient cybersecurity. 

Employee Dissatisfaction 

A stressed workforce is a challenging workforce. Studies show that employees who experience high levels of job-related stress are more likely to disengage, miss work, have negative interactions and eventually resign, creating a cycle of problems for HR departments. 

While workplace stress is on the rise, it’s especially alarming in the high-pressure, understaffed healthcare industry. A recent survey by CareerBuilder found that 54% of nurses report experiencing high levels of chronic, job-related stress. More than 40% of physicians exhibit at least one symptom of burnout, according to a study by the Mayo Clinic.  

Training & Development

Career development is essential in the rapidly evolving medical industry. As standards of care change and new technologies emerge, employees must be properly trained to continue to excel at their positions. 

However, healthcare HR departments must provide trainings that go beyond the basic necessities. In order to retain staff and fill new positions, organizations must provide ample opportunities for advancement, including leadership development opportunities.  A survey by CareerBuilder found that a lack of upward mobility was one of the top reasons healthcare workers left their jobs, and nearly 25% aren’t satisfied with their career progress.

 

Next Steps: How to Meet Healthcare’s HR Challenges

Human resources in the healthcare industry can be particularly challenging. To meet the needs of employees and the evolving medical field, departments should consider the following.

Invest in HR document management systems. By automating tasks and autonomously managing large volumes of employee data, human resource management systems (HRMS) and human resource information systems (HRIS) can reduce the time and resources needed to recruit and onboard employees. Most HCMs don’t allow for robust document management functionality (compliance monitors, easy audit capability, added permissions for security, etc.), but document management solutions that integrate easily with HCM/HRIS are a good option.

Improve document security. Document management systems ensure that sensitive employee information is protected at all stages. With built-in compliance tools, they allow allow HR managers to stay ahead of requirements and remain audit ready.

Use employee engagement tools. Engagement software can help open a proactive line of communication and gather valuable employee feedback. When employees are given an opportunity to express concerns, HR departments can implement changes to improve the employee experience and workplace culture. 

 

Related Resource: You know the challenges, now it’s time to gain control over your HR documents. Check out our eBook A Blueprint for HR Document Transformation

 

Nicole Hart is a seasoned global HR leader with over twenty years of experience. She focuses on organizational design, change management and workforce planning at Access which has 1800 employees in over 50 locations.