In 2024, the U.S. healthcare and life sciences industries face an array of challenges, including the aging Baby Boomer population, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the relentless push to innovate, talent shortages, and tight budgets. Layered on top of these challenges is economic concern, fueled by the highest inflation and interest rates in decades.
To navigate and overcome these challenges, while adhering to budgets, organizations need one extremely valuable asset: a flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective staffing strategy. Here are our proven best practices to execute on that strategy.
Best Practices for Building a Flexible and Cost-Effective Healthcare Team in 2024
1. Consider the many benefits of staff augmentation.
It’s important for virtually all healthcare or life sciences organizations, from executives to hiring managers, to understand the benefits of staff augmentation. A collective understanding means everyone is more likely to be on the same page with the approach and expectations. There is a long list of benefits, including:
- Cost-effectiveness: Avoid expenses associated with the recruitment, onboarding, and benefits for permanent staff.
- Faster time to fill positions: Fill positions quicker by avoiding longer hiring processes typical of permanent staff recruiting.
- Flexibility: Quickly scale your workforce up or down based on seasonal fluctuations, patient volume, projects, studies, and trials.
- Access to specialized skills: Conveniently bring in professionals with specific clinical, project management, or technological expertise that you may lack in-house.
- Skill transfer: Transfer specific expertise from temporary staff to full-time staff, increasing the overall knowledge and abilities of your team.
- Better Talent Pipelines: Bring people back for future temporary roles, or bring them on for permanent, full-time roles in some cases.
- Reduced workload: Reduce burnout or compromised patient care by supplementing your full-time staff with temporary staff.
- Decreased administrative burdens: Decrease time spent on tedious administrative tasks related to recruiting permanent talent.
2. Rely on temporary workers to gain a new level of flexibility.
While staffing budgets are generally fixed, your workforce should be the opposite. Because it’s not as if your resource needs remain consistent throughout the year. You face predictable seasonal fluctuations, increasingly less predictable patient volumes, and numerous technology implementations or enhancements. This calls for a flexible workforce, from administrative professionals to clinicians to revenue cycle experts, and from allied and care management staff to clinical trial staff. With a mix of full-time employees and temporary staff, you can quickly scale up and down based on demand, either proactively or reactively. The ability to quickly onboard and off board talent makes you light on your feet and lighter on your budget.
3. Revamp your recruiting strategy to include more temporary candidates.
Recruiting temporary staff requires a different approach, one that bucks normal trends. It’s no surprise that people who seek temporary work value flexibility. They also prioritize location, pay, and, in some cases, the opportunity to extend their assignment. It might go without saying, but clearly promote your openings as temporary positions, being clear about the duration, location, pay, and opportunity for future temporary work or even contract-to-hire (full-time) work. You must also know where temporary workers in your market are most likely to look for jobs, and target them there. An experienced staffing partner can help you recruit temporary workers, or even find qualified candidates in their existing talent pools, and efficiently classify and onboard new hires.
4. Recruit temporary candidates early and often to beat your competition.
Recruiting early and often, while remaining flexible, is part of your overall recruiting strategy, but it deserves its own section here. As the fight for talent has intensified, and the push to innovate and offer better care has persisted, our clients have recruited earlier than ever—months before their new fiscal year, peak demand periods, or project launch. This has paid off in a number of ways: bigger candidate pools, faster fill rates, improved day-to-day operations (administrative and care), and reduced recruiting costs. Waiting is a dangerous game, especially when recruiting temporary talent eager to take on their next assignment. Without the greater stability of a permanent position, they tend to plan ahead and accept their next role sooner rather than later.
5. Measure and share results with leadership.
Over the course of a month, quarter, and year, share your organization’s success with staff augmentation. Some measurements to include are recruitment costs, time to fill, and retention of permanent staff. What were they before and after your new staff augmentation efforts? One key annual metric is total labor spend—did you fall under budget? Using temporary staff instead of permanent staff for certain roles has proven to save millions for our clients. You should also measure the overall knowledge and skills of your workforce. Have temporary workers brought in new skills? And have they shared those skills with your permanent staff?
6. Partner with a specialized staffing agency to maximize the benefits.
Workforce management is complex, and staff augmentation is a major part of it. Finding the right temporary workers to fill critical roles, blending them in with your existing clinical and non-clinical teams, measuring your organization’s success, and offboarding them without an abrupt loss in knowledge is equal parts difficult and important. Don’t do it alone. Partner with an experienced and specialized staffing agency who can become an extension of your HR and recruiting teams—one that understands healthcare and life sciences organizations’ needs, and temporary candidates’ desires. Yes, it will come with a cost, but a cost that will produce a significant ROI, as you reduce recruitment costs and build a ruthlessly efficient workforce.
Using temporary staff to make your workforce stronger and more flexible, while meeting budget, is the right approach for so many reasons. Are you prepared to accomplish this? Have you found the right staffing partner? Here at Medix, we’ve helped our healthcare and life sciences clients execute on this approach for 20+ years. As we enter 2024, with an array of challenges ahead, it’s more critical than ever—and our team is more prepared to partner with you than ever.
Contact us to discuss your organization’s 2024 goals and determine how staff augmentation and temporary staffing can help you reach them. Get in touch today.