The Importance of Workforce Planning in Healthcare

Time to Read: 4.1 minutes

Updated: October 13, 2022

With increased pressure on the healthcare sector from an aging population, increased market growth thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and novel diseases, the importance of healthcare workforce planning in the US and around the world has never been greater.

Workforce planning in the healthcare industry can help providers manage workforce challenges such as:

  • Talent shortages
  • Seasonal illness peaks
  • Staffing disparities between rural and urban locations
  • Fluctuating healthcare graduate numbers

Effective workforce planning can also help mitigate long and short-term healthcare recruitment trends.

Three Trends Affecting Workforce Planning in Healthcare

Here are the three most important current trends affecting healthcare providers that will also have an impact on workforce planning:

1. Impact of Automation and Technology on Healthcare Roles

Automation and new technologies are having an interesting impact on the future of healthcare recruiting.

Job roles with the greatest potential for automation in healthcare are often administrative roles and those dominated by women, BAME and part-time staff. While the healthcare industry has put in years of work to increase diversity and inclusion, these gains could be lost without initiatives to reskill or upskill diverse workers. Increased automation can also lead to a digital skills gap with 83% of clinicians feeling that greater training is needed around digital skills for them to keep pace with technology.

The rise of remote working is also affecting healthcare roles with one study suggesting 31% of clinical jobs can be done remotely. The industry is also seeing unprecedented growth of nontraditional care providers (such as telehealth providers) and recruitment solutions providers that offer healthcare workers short-term assignments, travel, and flexibility when it comes to connecting with employers.

2. Need for Training and Development to Address Soft Skills Gaps

Alongside the previously mentioned digital skills gaps, the healthcare industries are also experiencing other skills gaps in vital areas such as mental health training. Providers can’t simply wait for new staff to qualify and so must invest in more training and development programs to retain healthcare talent or risk a talent shortage.

3. Increasing Burnout and Stress Among Healthcare Workers

Pressures on healthcare workers due to changes in healthcare spending, higher workloads, and static compensation have led to increased levels of burnout, stress, and anxiety. 60-75% of clinicians and 95% of nurses report symptoms of depression, exhaustion, and sleep disorders and 20% of healthcare workers quit in 2021. As a result, healthcare providers are experiencing a cycle of understaffing, overwork among employees, and high staff turnover that impacts patient care and costs.

Solving Healthcare Workforce Challenges

With a greater understanding of the challenges and trends affecting healthcare workforce staffing, healthcare providers can develop and adapt standard workforce planning procedures to meet their unique needs.

Follow the below steps to overcome healthcare recruiting challenges and build your workforce planning strategy for healthcare talent:

1. Defining Need

The first step in building your workforce planning strategy will involve assessing your organization’s workforce demand using metrics such as staff retention and turnover, skills and expertise needed, and current time-to-hire compared with projected recruiting needs.

2. Assessing Availability

What does the healthcare recruitment landscape look like regionally and nationally? How many healthcare workers are qualifying annually in your area or state? Is it possible to retrain or upskill current employees or potential candidates to meet your talent acquisition needs?

3. Implementing Policy Changes

Once you’ve identified recruitment processes and policies that should be changed or implemented to improve hiring, attract needed skills, and ensure workforce planning can accommodate fluctuating needs, care should be taken to bring on board senior stakeholders, and implement changes.

4. Working in Partnership

Healthcare providers are vital parts of the community and as such should evaluate the possibility of working in partnership with local organizations such as universities and community colleges, social services providers, and other local institutions and community groups to ensure their talent pipelines are sustainable.

5. Monitoring Impact

It is important to monitor the impact of your healthcare workforce planning strategy and make necessary adjustments to ensure it continues to meet your talent needs, mitigate any unintended effects, and respond to the shifting priorities of your organization.

Implementing workforce planning in healthcare can be a challenging and time-consuming process. Ensuring your workforce planning strategy meets your organization’s needs, works to improve your time-to-hire, and ensures you hire high-quality staff with the skills you need is a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t need to be.

How an RPO Partner Can Help You Develop Your Healthcare Workforce Strategy

Recruitment Process Outsourcing can provide you with the recruitment infrastructure necessary to meet your business goals. Access the expertise, recruiting tools and technology, and flexible solutions to make hiring the best healthcare talent more efficient. Not only that but an RPO provider, like Pierpoint, can provide advice and support on diversity hiring, employer branding, and workforce planning so you can be sure every team member you hire meets your high-quality standards in skills, attributes, and performance.  Discuss your healthcare recruitment needs with one of our solutions designers today.

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Jen Mulholland

Jen is a successful recruitment and marketing professional. Driven by a genuine passion for writing, she provides insightful, accurate and engaging content for the Human Resources community across a wide range of topics and industries.

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