Hospitals tackle workforce challenges: 3 recent initiatives

Hospitals and health systems have long sought to attract, retain and develop employees. However, organizations are even more focused on these initiatives today amid an evolving workforce. 

The needs of the workforce have continued to change across industries in the U.S. These needs have been influenced by various trends, including changing demographics and workers' continued desire for scheduling flexibility. 

Workers also continue to call it quits in healthcare and other industries, including construction, mining and logging, and manufacturing. Healthcare and social assistance saw 588,000 quits in May, up from the 519,000 recorded the month prior. The quits rate, or number of quits as a percent of employment, was 2.8 percent in May, up from 2.4 percent in April and 2.6 percent in May 2022. 

Additionally, hospitals and health systems have struggled with high labor costs in recent years due to inflation and reliance on contracted travel nurses to address workforce shortages. Hospital CEOs told Becker's that organizations must now get creative to combat labor costs and retain workers. 

Here are a few examples of strategies recently rolled out at health systems:

1. SSM Health, a 23-hospital health system based in St. Louis, added an on-demand workforce platform to fill staffing gaps and improve employee retention. The new platform stems from SSM Health's new agreement with ShiftMed, a staffing platform that connects about 350,000 healthcare professionals with jobs at healthcare facilities each quarter, the Catholic health system said in a news release shared with Becker's on July 10. 

2. New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health reached an agreement with Prolucent Health, a Dallas-based workforce optimization startup, to implement Prolucent's VMS+ platform for managing the 21-hospital health system's temporary staffing needs. The platform will integrate the contingent labor provided by Northwell's internal staffing agency, FlexStaff, with external third-party staffing agencies on one platform, the health system said in a July 11 news release. 

3. La Crosse, Wis.-based Gundersen Health System began operating a career development center. The health system told Becker's that the center's services reached 9,000 of the system's 19,000 employees last year — exceeding its goal of 25 percent of the Gundersen workforce.

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