5 Strategies to Deal with the Healthcare Employee Shortage

5 Strategies to Deal with the Healthcare Employee Shortage

Remember The Great Resignation? – when employees had to voluntarily leave their professions due to poor working conditions and low wages. According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, around 50.5 million people left their jobs in 2022. Every industry is impacted, and healthcare is no exception. Since the pandemic, one out of every five healthcare workers has resigned from their positions, and a concerning 47% are contemplating leaving their jobs by 2025. 

The shortage of healthcare workers, with over 1 in 6 Americans aged 65 or older and one in 4 adults having multiple chronic diseases, is making it harder to care for patients.

Luckily, healthcare organizations can utilize several strategies to deal with these staffing shortages and improve patient care. Let’s dig deeper and learn the reasons behind the workforce shortage in healthcare and how you can fix it.

Reasons for Healthcare Employee Shortage

The possible causes of staff shortages in healthcare are:

Workplace Burnout

With long working hours, emotional tolls, and extreme stress levels, healthcare employees face many situations that can lead to burnout. As per Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 62.8% of physicians experienced burnout at least once in 2021.

Workplace Burnout

A lot of nurses and doctors reported being stressed, and the numbers increased during Covid-19. These professionals prefer leaving their jobs to find rewarding and less stressful career paths, leading to increased turnover. They generally have to deal with excessive administrative work that distracts them from patient care and can be frustrating at times. These factors contribute to the ongoing challenge of healthcare employee shortage that needs to be addressed to ensure quality healthcare.

An Aging Population

As people live longer, they need more medical attention and care due to health conditions and chronic diseases that come with aging. This excessive demand for healthcare services requires organizations to have a larger workforce to meet their requirements.

An Aging Population

Also, the retirement of experienced healthcare professionals further affects the workforce, requiring the recruitment and training of new workers. Specialized care for the elderly is in high demand, making it hard to find and keep healthcare workers with the necessary expertise.

Relatively Low Pay 

The healthcare worker shortage in 2024 can be attributed to the industry’s lower pay. This discourages people from pursuing healthcare careers and contributes to stress among current professionals. Job competition, pay differences by location, and alternative career choices worsen the problem.

Relatively Low Pay 

Addressing low pay is vital for a strong healthcare workforce. By offering competitive salaries, we can attract more talent, reduce burnout, and ensure that underserved areas have access to the healthcare they need, ultimately improving the quality of care for all.

Strategies to Deal with the Healthcare Employee Shortage

1. Use Technology and Automation

You can implement telehealth services to provide patients with remote consultations if they can’t travel to the doctor’s office. As per a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 37% of adults used telemedicine in 2021. With virtual assistants and AI-powered chatbots for initial assessments, you can help healthcare workers get enough time to focus on other crucial duties.  EHRs help with administrative tasks, including paperwork so that they can pay maximum attention to patient care. Tasks like medication delivery, surgical procedures, and even laboratory tests can be automated to some extent to save time and ensure consistency and accuracy in healthcare delivery. With remote monitoring devices, healthcare workers can monitor patients suffering from chronic diseases, even when they cannot be physically present.

When it comes to recruiting new workers, consider using pre-recorded interviews so that you get a prior understanding of who’s fit for the role. Technology and automation are powerful ways to deal with the challenges of healthcare employee shortage.

Additional Reading: How to Make the Most Out of Video Interviewing Software

2. Rethink Your Recruitment Strategy

Extend your recruitment efforts to involve and engage with local colleges and universities, forming partnerships, and establishing internship programs for healthcare students. This strategy helps build a strong candidate pool. You may provide them with flexible work schedules or part-time opportunities – offering these will minimize shortages within the industry. You can also make remote working available as a means of tapping broader pools of talent. Offering competitive compensation packages and benefits will draw candidates towards joining you as employees quickly. Also, networking events allow direct interaction with multiple candidates that enable quick position fills. Not just this, you should also set realistic jobs so that employees don’t experience a mismatch between expectations and the job role. It will help you retain top healthcare talent and prevent shortages.

Additional Reading: 5 Ways to Accelerate Healthcare Recruitment

3. Retain Current Employees

Losing well-experienced employees can lead to staffing challenges, so you must use effective strategies to keep your team engaged and retained. If you’re wondering how to improve employee morale in healthcare, make sure you keep reviewing compensation packages and ensure they feel fairly compensated and valued. Providing career growth opportunities is a great way to let them know that you think about their future.

Support your team’s work-life balance by offering flexible schedules and allowing them to take time off when needed. Remember that when people feel overworked, they might think about leaving their jobs. Make sure you notice and say thanks for your staff’s hard work and dedication. Give them compliments, awards, or other recognition regularly to show your appreciation.

4. Cross-Training

Training employees to perform tasks and responsibilities outside of their primary roles or specialties is a great way to address healthcare employee shortages. With cross-training, existing employees can fill in for other employees in case they leave your healthcare organization. If you distribute the workload evenly among these employees, you will end up preventing burnout and reducing stress among them. You can start by identifying the roles with the maximum staff shortages, including nurses, administrative staff, or medical assistants.  

Incorporating hands-on and practical training for the tasks they’ll be able to perform during the shortage allows employees to develop skills apart from what they already have. Make sure you develop clear protocols and let your employees know how they’ll have to contribute during staffing shortages. To check the effectiveness of programs, keep checking the key performance indicators, including patient satisfaction, workload distribution, and response time.

5. Rehire Former Employees

Creating an updated contact list of former employees and reaching out to them is the best thing you can do at a time of crisis or increased demand for healthcare services. You can make phone calls or send personalized emails to invite them again. When you contact them, ensure you’re being honest about the staffing shortage situation and why you need them. Offering them incentives like higher pay or flexible hours might entice them with the idea of returning to work. You might have to offer refresher training and orientation as they may be out of practice or not updated with the new procedures. Reward employees’ efforts by offering regular feedback or awarding them with something to show your gratitude towards their comeback. 


Healthcare workers are the backbone of the healthcare industry and their expertise is required for quality patient care. The industry deals with huge workforce shortages due to factors like an aging population, low pay, and workplace burnout. However, as mentioned above, there are multiple strategies you can use to address the challenges of healthcare employee shortage. Executing these strategies is important to ensure the well-being of patients and maintain the quality of care.