Some long standing issues for certain roles in the healthcare field — including long hours, low pay, and insufficient staffing — were unsurprisingly exacerbated by the pandemic. These and other factors have made attracting and retaining caregivers and nurses more difficult than ever. 
We recently surveyed nearly 5,000 applicants in our 2021 State of Hiring report to get a better grasp of job seekers’ experiences and expectations during the past year. We found that the pandemic impacted healthcare workers in many ways — from their sense of job security to their motivation to work.  As an employer, failure to address these issues will make it even harder to hire and retain employees as the current talent crisis continues and we again see spikes in COVID cases worldwide.
Here are elements of work that have likely impacted your staff, and how you can work to improve them. 

1. Connection to Coworkers

51% of healthcare survey respondents said their connection to their coworkers dwindled due to the pandemic. While it’s difficult to mitigate this when everyone is so busy caring for their patients, you can make steps to encourage camaraderie inside and outside of your agency. 
Ask veteran employees to take your new hires out for lunch on their first day; host team happy hours or coffee breaks that serve as a break for your staff to chat and get to know one another; organize a gift swap, book club, or other interactive event that will keep your staff connected. And, make sure that you and other members of your management team participate, too. It’s important to your staff to get to know you and feel connected to you, as well, especially if you’re hoping they’ll stay around long-term.  

2. Employer Loyalty

The pandemic also impacted healthcare workers’ loyalty to their employers. 41% of applicants said they feel less loyal to their employer because of the pandemic, which also falls in line with the above section. Creating connections with your employees helps to give them purpose and make them feel valued. But you can’t stop there — your employees want to work for an agency that puts both its patients and employees first, so you need to aim to provide outstanding patient care, as well as offer competitive benefits, compensation, and recognition to keep your employees around.

3. Sense of Job Security

Job security was another issue that worsened with COVID-19, as 50% of healthcare respondents said their sense of job security was adversely affected. Regardless of the huge role healthcare workers played in the pandemic, 49% of workers still lost their jobs, had their hours reduced, or were furloughed due to COVID-19. This has a direct impact on their sense of security in their role.
Attempt to ease your employees’ fears of job instability by showing them that they are the backbone of your agency. Talk with them in one-on-one meetings, try to understand their needs, and meet them where they are. Getting direct feedback from them will make sure you’re actually addressing their concerns rather than creating a band aid fix that only looks like progress on the surface. 

4. Motivation

47% of healthcare workers said their motivation was negatively impacted over the last year and a half. Remind your staff of their purpose, include skill variety in their day-to-day as much as you can, and give them autonomy to increase their level of motivation. Adam Robinson, Hireology’s CEO, talked about the importance of a motivational job and how to create one in this blog post, so if you’re looking for additional tips, give it a read. 

5. Work-Life Balance

Lastly, it should come as no surprise that 49% of respondents working in the healthcare industry said that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their work-life balance. With fewer staff members and more patients, healthcare workers were forced to work longer hours, and the health implications of working with COVID patients pulled many away from seeing their families. 
Do what you can to encourage your staff to take time off when they need it. Offer mental health days, paid sick days, and paid time off to make sure your staff is able to relax when they need to.
And of course, shifting schedules to allow for more of a balance between work and family is a great option, but you can’t do that if you don’t have enough team members to spread shifts out to. The first step in building your team is attracting applicants to your open roles, but finding applicants has been an issue across the board over the last few months. Work to diversify your applicant sources by utilizing your social media channels, an employee referral program, and your career site to help get more eyes on your open roles, and make sure you talk about the reasons why working for your agency is great. 
Then once you have applicants, move top talent through the process as quickly as possible so they can begin working ASAP. Hireology can help you hire up to eight days faster with our all-in-one platform that offers automated background and reference checks, skills tests, and document collection to help keep you organized and the process moving along. 

6. Leaving the Industry Altogether

When asked whether or not the pandemic has made them more interested in switching industries, 35% of respondents in the healthcare industry said yes. And for those whose role was impacted due to the pandemic, 23% left the healthcare industry altogether. 
Reasons for this are all over the map: some are more interested in working from home — a popular option that oftentimes the healthcare industry can’t accommodate — while others are simply feeling the effects of burnout. But don’t chalk up your high turnover to being something that’s out of your control, because it’s not — and steps can be taken to keep your employees around and in the healthcare field. 
You need to focus on improving your employer brand through listening to employee feedback, creating an environment of support, and of course, addressing the issues mentioned above. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in an endless cycle of hiring talent only to have them leave shortly after they start. 
 
Adjusting to yet another “new normal” will be no easy feat, but helping your staff with these pandemic-related stressors can help you keep your team around and attract new talent much easier. Check out our 2021 State of Hiring report for more insight into what applicants and employees desire.