Travel nurse, 1099 staffing agency apps, and VMS/MSP aren’t helping your health system. They are increasing wages and are only solving for the core problem, filling a shift, but doing it no matter the cost without considering your budget, full-time employees, or your recruitment and retention needs.
Consider what the outcomes are by focusing on wages as the only incentive:
- They are driving unnecessary wage inflation and financial instability.
- They are shifting the culture to a wage mercenary versus mission mindset.
- They are driving short term versus long term, sustainable workforce relationships.
It would be unwise and untruthful to state that wages do not matter. They are part of the puzzle and should be combined with incentives to find the ideal mix for engagement and financial sustainability.
The bottom line is wage-centric workforce models do not support or sustain a workforce ecosystem that drives health system financial stability, focuses on the mission, or supports a sustainable, cohesive culture.
Lowering labor costs while engaging the workforce via equity and tailored incentives
Equity-based incentives are defined as incentives that support the lifting of individuals from their socio-economic position. Other tailored incentives are non-wage/healthcare benefit-based engagement tools that support a targeted workforce group’s needs. Wages and incentives focused with marketplace technology to effectively tailor, target, distribute, and measure are key to driving workforce behavior.
There is a three-step process to develop and implement this incentive model:
- Understand the archetypes of personalities in the workforce: Lead with behavioral science to understand employee archetypes and apply incentives combined with salaries that resonate. Research has shown that health professionals’ wants go beyond monetary paychecks; they want tailored incentives that are targeted to their needs based upon their individual life situation while a wage driven culture is correlated with a broken, high turnover culture.
- Develop equity and tailored incentives via a workforce marketplace platform: A workforce marketplace partner can provide data around what engages your workforce in real-time. It can help you tailor and target your wages combined with incentives through a series of “AB tests'' based upon the targeted behavioral archetypes that a health system desires to recruit and retain.
A data driven example is by ShiftMed, a healthcare workforce marketplace. ShiftMed reviewed its workforce data and found that wages could be mitigated if hospital systems offered “Guaranteed Shifts™” to a targeted group of professionals weeks in advance of the shift.
Case studies applying equity-based, technology supported incentives.
The tools go beyond “Guaranteed Shifts™” to equity-based incentives that come in various forms and are deployed via a workforce marketplace technology. Examples include:
A. Education ladders: Education technology tools or “EdTech” can be applied in a workforce marketplace to offer easily accessible education tools for CNAs to become RNs, tuition in lieu of increased wages paid via a workforce marketplace for shift commitments, and learning modules in a marketplace to cross train your workforce.
B. Childcare and Eldercare: Many health systems already have some form of coverage to help their workers, but many are at full capacity or are not fully subsidized. With over 80% of the healthcare workforce as women who are primary caregivers in their households, this should be enhanced across the board and workforce marketplaces can anticipate connecting your workforce with childcare/eldercare needs via technology efficiently.
C. Transportation: 46% of healthcare professionals report experiencing transportation issues and many are CNAs, who are falling short in supply across the country . Health Systems can provide transportation benefits like UberHealth’s partnership with ShiftMed for free rides to work to relieve the stress and costs associated with securing work-related transportation.
3. Engage healthcare philanthropy to support equity incentive models: Health system philanthropy arms are starting to help tackle the healthcare workforce crisis . Often, health system philanthropic arms focus on equity and what better way than to start than by supporting equity while attracting a clinical workforce for their respective health system.
It is time for health systems to apply their equity-based mission principles not only to their community, but to support, incentivize, and attract their workforces to support their patient care mission.
Using a W-2 workforce technology partner like ShiftMed, combined with the power of incentives like transportation solutions through UberHealth, can help your healthcare facility end its dependence on travel nurses, reduce costs in the millions, and move toward self-sufficiency in recruiting and retaining caregivers.
Learn more and access resources at Shiftmed.com.
About the author
Craig Allan Ahrens, MHA, MBA, is a healthcare workforce innovation and technology leader, and educator to health system boards and executive teams.
ShiftMed delivers an on-demand workforce marketplace that connects over 100,000 credentialed nursing professionals looking for flexible work with healthcare providers needing additional nursing staff.