Man with tech concepts Employerscan improve their value proposition by emphasizingemployee recognition, encouraging and listening to employeefeedback, and providing pathways for learning and development.(Image: Shutterstock)

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Creating engaged employees and investing in newtechnologies are two strategies that can help address health careworker shortages, a new report finds.

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The report, "Top Workforce Trends Impacting the Health CareIndustry in 2020," was released by software company Achievers,and looks at one of the most pressing problems for theindustry-worker shortages. According to the Achievers analysis, thehealth care industry faces a "staggering talent deficit."

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Related: How top employers are upping their benefit packagesto attract talent

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The current low unemployment rate for the U.S., 3.6 percent,means that many industries are facing challenges in recruiting andretaining talent. "For the health care industry, this problem isexacerbated," the study said. "Health care has the highestpercentage of job openings, and those openings are the toughest tofill. CareerCast, a job search portal that examined data from theBureau of Labor and Statistics, published a list of jobs that arehardest to fill in 2019. Of the top eight jobs, six were in healthcare."

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A lack of skilled employees, growing demand for workers, andissues with burnout and worker turnover all are factorsthat play into health care worker shortages, the report said.

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Industry trends: Engaging employees

The study said engagement is key to recruiting and retainingemployees, and it discusses the term "Employer Value Proposition(EVP) as a way to understand how workers are thinking about healthcare jobs.

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The study defines EVP as including:

  • Opportunity—such as career development and advancementopportunity, as well as organization growth rate.
  • People—assessing manager, coworker and leadership quality, thereputation of the company's leadership.
  • Organization—a company's market position, socialresponsibility, product and service quality.
  • Work—how an employer aligns employee interests with their role,and the approach to work/life balance.
  • Rewards—including compensation, health and retirement benefitsand time off.

Some key ways that employers can improve their EVP includeemphasizing employee recognition, encouraging and listening toemployee feedback, and providing pathways for learning anddevelopment, the study said.

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Technology's role

Not surprisingly, Achievers is a strong proponent of updatingtechnology as a way to improve recruitment and retention. But thereport makes the case that more efficient use of technologyimproves both the workers' experience and the patient experience inhealth care settings.

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Upgrading wireless connections in a clinical setting, forexample, "…Enables several moving parts of working hospitals, frompatient monitoring to nurse/doctor communication to EHRs to syncfor accurate and real-time data. This is especially critical forshort-staffed work environments and ensures patient safety.Workflow automation through these devices allows for fewertranscription errors, less administrative tasks, and real-time dataanalysis," the report said.

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Better digital communication also can improve employee feedbackand communication with managers, the report noted. And AugmentedReality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are expected to bringrevolutionary improvements to health care delivery.

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"Physicians are able to leverage AR and virtual realitytechnology to perform precise surgeries, see through skin to planfor complex procedures and create detailed 3D medical images, amongother actions," the report said. "…[AI] allows for faster and moreaccurate diagnosis, early detection, and treatment."

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The amount of change going on can be daunting, the reportconcludes. But the upside to better communication and moreefficient performance will be a better work culture. "Now more thanever, it's important for health care organizations to createenvironments where employees feel valued, appreciated andsupported," the report said. "Soliciting regular feedback fromemployees (and acting on it), supporting career development,investing in up-to-date technology, and recognizing employeesfrequently are proven ways to get there."

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