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Delta Variant Causes Concerns For Health Care Workers: Leaders Outline New Strategies For Retention

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at August 26, 2021

The mental state of frontline workers is changing, as a result of continued stressors around the Delta variant and the ongoing pandemic. The Washington Post reports that hospitalizations have hit 100,000 in the US for the first time since January. Against this troubling backdrop, a survey of nearly 1,300 nurses shows that two-thirds of health care workers (64%) feel more stressed about their day-to-day job duties. The COVID-19 crisis has created disturbing effects for patients and frontline workers alike. During the pandemic, 39% of nurses shared that they sought extra support around their own mental health and wellbeing, and an eye-popping 83% feel that their mental health has been impacted by working in healthcare during COVID-19. Bottom line: nearly half of US healthcare workers are considering leaving the profession this year. In order to combat this troubling trend toward resignation, leading employers are turning to training initiatives and educational incentives to drive retention. Will it work?

Consider these stunning statistics around job satisfaction for nurses, based on a survey conducted by Vivian Health:

  • 87% of respondents shared that their hospitals or facilities are still, on average, short staffed 
  • Nearly three-fourths (72%) report hospital morale has gotten worse in their hospital or health care facility since this time last year
  • 53% of healthcare workers surveyed don’t feel optimistic about the future of healthcare in the U.S. (only 20% felt optimistic)
  • 43% of respondents are considering leaving the healthcare profession in 2021
  • Seen from the perspective of age groups, those younger than 40 (44%) or above 59 (45%) had the highest rates of nurses that are considering leaving.

Rusty Gaillard is the author of Breaking the Code, and a transformational coach in Silicon Valley. The former Worldwide Director of Finance for Apple, Gaillard helps leaders beat back indecision via his leadership consulting. He says that outside commitments can add to the challenges for the deskless workforce, as priorities continue to shift for all employees. “Where companies used to hold the strings, setting policy and demanding adherence to it, employees now have power. And companies are paying attention, as you can see by changing policies, constant press about employee retention and how to welcome people back to the office, jobs going unfilled for months, and the buzz among HR officers who know what awaits them [when workers are unsatisfied].” So how can organizations (and organizational leaders) drive retention in the face of burnout – especially for vital workers like nurses and healthcare professionals?

According to research conducted by Kelton Global, 87% of adults said that learning new skills is an important part of career success. Nearly all black and hispanic/latino workers (90 and 91%, respectively) believe such advances via training will be important for them to succeed in the future. The Great Resignation has been covered at length on this site; but critical healthcare professions are more in-demand than ever before. How can leaders and executives make sure that they attract and retain workers in this vital space – and provide them the space to avoid burnout, frustration and career change?

  • Orlando Health: Central Florida’s 4th largest employer, offers its employees a no-cost education program covering 100% of the cost of tuition and books. They recently announced a partnership with Seminole State College to expand this offering.
  • DaVita: The nationwide dialysis care company expanded its “Bridge to Your Dreams” program to help employees go from technician to trained nurse with an associate degree, covering most nursing school tuition and related costs through online courses.
  • OhioHealth: This non-profit healthcare system in central Ohio has helped 492 associates to graduate with new skills to assist patients, through no-cost education benefits. On average, the program offers a reduction of $1,255 in student tuition, serving a network of 12 hospitals and a workforce of over 35,000.

What will your organization do to cater to the needs and goals of a healthcare workforce that’s already stretched very, very thin? Retention of frontline workers is vital to conquering this pandemic. “For employees who have been trained in the corporate power games, they may be hesitant to raise their hand and ask for what they want,” Gaillard says. And yet, asking for what you want – and gaining the training you deserve – might be exactly what your healthcare career needs.

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