How healthcare is addressing a diminishing workforce

The hard-hit sector is prioritizing adaptation to a changing workforce

July 06, 2023

Unpredictable staffing challenges are expediting the need for innovative solutions across the healthcare industry.

After witnessing the largest spike in staffing shortages across clinical and non-clinical roles, the $4.7 trillion global industry has struggled to rebound from pandemic-driven workforce challenges. The U.K., for example, experienced its largest nursing strike in history earlier this year, and sharp workforce declines in the U.S. have lawmakers joining in on conversations to boost clinicians practicing in the country.

“Staffing shortages are being felt globally and are the top issue in the healthcare industry—along with financial cost pressures,” says JLL Healthcare division president Alison Flynn Gaffney. “The big issue we see now is that while the healthcare workforce is shrinking, demand is also rising.”

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates a projected shortfall of 10 million health workers by 2030, which Flynn Gaffney says “is creating increased competition for a limited resource.”

Addressing staffing shortages

Flynn Gaffney says the healthcare industry is in the perfect position to change the narrative about how the future workforce views the sector—and the data backs up the dire need to invest in the current and future workforce.

Investment in employees and team members is the number-one factor in patient experience, according to JLL’s new Healthcare Patient Consumer survey.

“Collaboration, technology, and culture must become top priorities for leadership,” Flynn Gaffney says. “Solutions we are looking at now center around sharing workforce globally, implementing new strategies to improve company culture and hybrid work models and investment into technology to baseline performance and experience mark best practices.”

She adds that loosening the requirement for higher degrees in specific roles—the so-called paper ceiling—will also be imperative. “With the workforce shortages, a look at all of the requirements and credentials that we have previously thought needed for roles and focus on how they can match what the requirements are and not have people eliminated from the potential future of a career or roles in a healthcare setting because of the paper ceiling.”

Regarding collaboration with policymakers and universities for training and recruiting the next generation of the workforce, Flynn Gaffney says the focus needs to be on roles throughout healthcare, clinical and non-clinical, such as facilities management, data analysis, research, nutrition care services, environmental services, and many other key roles that support the patient and team experience.

“A lot of innovation and positive impact happens in healthcare where people create new cures and new technologies—that is very appealing to the next generation,” Flynn Gaffney says. “There is a great opportunity to rewrite the narrative of why healthcare is an industry that people want to be a part of.”

Support and upskill

Flynn Gaffney says another area of improvement that impacts both staffing shortages and cost pressures centers around facilities management.

“Today’s healthcare organizations have the opportunity to elevate their facilities management and services while evolving outdated methods, which result in not getting the most out of their tech, especially data needed to plan and empower their teams strategically,” she says.

For example, JLL’s Performance Optimization Program can provide organizations with a road map for creating a safe environment of success and innovation. Having expert partners validate the good work and where the teams and environment are today gives leaders and teams confidence.

“Providing the objective data necessary for investment in potential areas of growth and opportunity such as training, skills development, and change management support helps to differentiate and elevate their team members, enhancing retention and recruitment,” Flynn Gaffney says. “Keeping the team and patient front and center of every investment and strategic decision is how healthcare organizations today and of the future will deliver their mission.” 

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