9 Ways to Address Healthcare Staffing Challenges Using HCM

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Healthcare’s biggest challenge? Finding and keeping qualified staff. 

According to the American College of Healthcare Executives' latest annual survey, Hospital CEOs cite personnel shortages as their top issue—ranking recruitment woes higher than financial challenges, care quality, cybersecurity, or other perennial concerns. 

COVID-19 burnout is fueling resignations and retirements by front-line healthcare workers, and those who remain say staff shortages have affected their ability to work safely and satisfy patient needs.

Delivering quality patient care relies on the productivity, development, and satisfaction of a health system's most important asset—its workforce. Hiring, engaging, and retaining top talent in 2022 will require employers to reimagine a holistic human capital management (HCM) strategy in which staff feels supported and empowered. 

The good news is that functionality that supports hiring, retention, and employee satisfaction goals are standard within UKG HCM and WFM (Workforce Management) solutions. Read on for the top tactics we've helped our healthcare partners implement to solve critical staffing challenges.


Reduce Burnout


Work smarter, not harder, with scheduling optimization

You won’t get far driving a car running on fumes. Avoid overworking employees by evenly spreading the workload with automated scheduling. Labor demand planning is no longer a guessing game with a WFM solution that uses employee data to provide predictive scheduling with volume-based workload forecasts. This approach ensures folks work an appropriate amount of hours and have time to refuel, and eliminates under- and overstaffing.

Tie schedules to patient flow

If census and acuity data with shift scheduling and staffing aren’t in unison, the volume of work staff may be asked to do may vary every day. This unpredictability can cause fatigue for employees. Integrating EMR and WFM systems largely solves this issue by capturing patient data and aligning staff with real-time demand.

Use surveys to identify employee concerns

Above all, people want their voices to be heard. Real-time capture of employee data through surveys hosted with a WFM platform can help organizations identify symptoms of burnout or fatigue.

For example, a survey can appear when employees are clocking in or out for the day that asks questions such as “Do you feel safe today?” or “Are you exhausted?” 

Or, let’s say an employee is offered an overtime shift on their mobile device. In addition to accepting or denying the shift, they can be prompted to answer questions that gauge if they’ve been offered too much or if their weekly workload is just right. Encouraging staff to participate in the scheduling conversation helps your workforce feel recognized.


Improve Retention

Empower employees to control their availability

Give staff the freedom to map out their schedule, at home or on the go. A mobile self-scheduling application, configured by the employer, allows employees to choose their own day and time preferences and the weeks they want to be on vacation. This flexibility provides staff a sense of autonomy and increased work-life balance for higher employee satisfaction. 

Reinforce valuable benefits

Everyone wants to know the “bennies and perks” of working for an organization. A lot can get lost in translation within an outdated benefits brochure. Take your benefits program to the next level with a digital platform that helps employees learn about, compare, and choose the right options for themselves and their families. Providing an accessible, transparent (and easily updatable) breakdown of pay and benefits within a WFM platform encourages employees to take advantage of your offerings and feel appreciated.

Boost employee engagement with rewards or recognition

Celebrate your staff’s achievements by showcasing their accomplishments. A modern WFM system can easily capture employee throughput and quantify the effort they are putting in, providing leadership the visibility it needs to reward its outstanding performers on specific performance metrics.


Accelerate Hiring

Use HCM to notify staff of internal promotion opportunities

The best hire for a new opening may be from within. The opportunity to rise within an organization or take an alternative role are options likely to interest most employees. A modern HCM system allows you to maintain a repository of job openings and proactively notify employees with mobile alerts, texts, or emails.

Generate and track referral bonuses

Offering staff incentives for recommending potential candidates is a smart way to retain and grow a network of top talent. An HCM platform can maintain this data (goodbye, spreadsheets) and motivate employees to serve your firm's recruiting capacity. Here’s an incentive idea: We gifted a Tesla to the winner of our 2021 employee referral contest.

Automate recruitment and hiring functions 

Stand out from other employers by impressing candidates with a fluid, engaging application and hiring process. There are numerous ways to utilize automated tools within a human resources solution to support a positive experience for both recruiting teams and candidates:

  • Allow candidates to skip redundant form fields by auto-populating information from their LinkedIn or resume
  • Immediately identify the best fits with filtering capabilities and pre-screening questions
  • Send regular automated notifications and customized emails, so applicants don’t feel left hanging throughout the process

Our HCM experts at Healthcare IT Leaders offer a wealth of experience helping leading health systems design, implement and optimize their UKG solutions. Want to learn more? Talk to us today.


UKG Client Advisor Dave Johnson has spent his entire career helping customers address their workforce management (WFM) needs. In his role at Healthcare IT Leaders, he supports our clients from implementation through optimization, helping them maximize value from their UKG investments. Dave holds a BS in Industrial Management from Purdue University.