As we began 2020, numerous trends were reshaping the employment landscape. Then, just as quickly as they emerged, COVID brought them to a halt while introducing a variety of new factors that organizations needed to adjust to immediately.
Here are four Healthcare IT workforce trends that emerged before the pandemic and what’s likely to occur moving forward.
1. Decreasing Tenure
Prior to the pandemic, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics showed that employee tenure had been trending down for years. For the past decade, employees have not considered their organizations a place to remain for the rest of their careers. Continued mergers and acquisitions, not to mention organizational outsourcing, have many employees constantly wondering when their job may go away. As a result, they’re constantly on the lookout for a better or more stable situation.
As we’ve come out of the pandemic, many people were downsized through no fault of their own. This has only served to reinforce employees’ belief that their employers are not there for them during difficult times. For those who were lucky enough to keep their jobs, many of them — due to job market uncertainty — decided to hunker down even if they were dissatisfied.
As the economy stabilizes, we’ll see a surge in resignations as employees no longer put off career moves they were thinking about prior to the start of the pandemic.
2. More People Prefer the Gig Economy
Prior to the pandemic, more and more people were choosing to participate in the "gig economy." The gig economy is defined as “a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.” Rather than being an employee for one organization, many people are choosing to do a specific job that they’re hired for and then move on.
For many people in Healthcare IT, this preference was brought about by a lack of employment options local to them.
In one sense, WFH policies could create the flexibility that caused many people to seek employment via the gig economy. On the other hand, I certainly don’t see these new policies being as flexible as a contractor picking and choosing their own projects every six months. However, for people who have worked as contractors for a number of years, these new WFH policies will be enough to sway a portion of them back to full-time employment.
As digital transformation moves ahead at full steam, the skills needed in today’s marketplace are rapidly changing. Per Gartner’s research and development, employers are finding that their workforce requires 33% more skills than it did in 2017. Therefore, the need to train and develop employees is greater than ever.
Some organizations will invest in that training and development. Those that don’t have the resources will continue to turn to contracting solutions to fill internal talent gaps.
3.New Players in Healthcare Compete for the Same Talent
Prior to COVID, big players like Amazon and Walmart had entered the healthcare space. Suddenly, traditional healthcare organizations were competing with behemoths equipped with more resources for attracting the same talent.
Since the pandemic, healthcare’s digital transformation has accelerated. This has resulted in even more players entering the space at an unprecedented rate. Obviously, this has only worsened the outlook for traditional healthcare organizations looking to compete for talent.
So, how can they compete? By taking the time to research and understand the market, and then developing an appropriate talent access strategy. Anything less, quite simply, will not work.
4. WFH Trends Provide a Double-Edged Sword
Prior to the pandemic, many healthcare organizations in rural areas had already adopted WFH strategies. Health systems commonly had employees working in other states. They did this out of necessity due to being unsuccessful at convincing people with uncommon skill sets to relocate to their areas.
As we know, since the pandemic, just about all Healthcare IT employees have gotten a taste of working remotely. I’ve heard wide-ranging opinions from healthcare technology leaders as to what the proper mix of working on-site versus remotely will be. From the employee side, I don’t know many people who want to be in an office 100% of the time, but I also know there are many people who don’t want to work remotely all the time.
We all know that the perfect solution will be different for every organization and person, and will probably result in a mixed approach. Some people will be 100% remote, while others will choose to be 100% on-site, and others still will opt for a hybrid of the two.
In the absence of proper market research and a talent access strategy, developing a policy that pleases the existing employee base while attracting new employees will be challenging.
The supply of potential skill sets varies greatly. Many organizations are creating their policies without analyzing what those people with scarce skills are looking for in a new organization’s policies. This lack of understanding, combined with an inability to adjust to workforce demands, will be the biggest issue facing healthcare organizations.