While many corporations are currently grappling with how and when workers will return to their old offices, healthcare employees never left. Deemed essential in hospitals worldwide that overflowed with COVID-19 patients, these frontline workers have worked onsite tirelessly while the rest of the country is engaging in discourse over hybrid vs. in-person vs. remote.
Corporate executives are eager to re-utilize their costly offices and resume onsite work in some capacity. Concurrently, the healthcare industry battles ongoing labor shortages from the unmitigated burnout of nurses and physicians who never had the choice to be distant.
Research from McKinsey shows that as employees continue to leave jobs (in all sectors) at an increased level, many have fled not only their post but their industry entirely – and aren’t returning. For many burned-out healthcare workers, they’re finding flexible positions that utilize their transferrable skills.
Health a Priority for Corporate Return-to-Office
The U.S. office vacancy rate closed out 2022 at 15.7%. While below the prior peak seen at the height of the Global Financial Crisis, it has been forecasted to reach that dubious level by mid-year if the current rate of vacancy is sustained.
Office occupancy levels, however, are slowly increasing, with 60% of firms indicating their employees will return under a hybrid work model. To appeal to those workers who want to remain remote, many companies are looking to prioritize new initiatives and amenities.
One survey shows employers are focusing on health and well-being as they strategize their return-to-office plan, with 83% of them indicating that employee well-being will have a significant role: “employers plan to position mental health (91%), physical health (60%) and work/life balance (57%) initiatives as integral components of their return-to-worksite strategy in 2022,” according to the survey.
The Labor Shortage Rages On
The February Employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated strong job growth for the month, especially within retail, hospitality, and healthcare. However, the country continues to face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034, and as many as one out of five doctors plan to leave medicine within two years.
Preventing burnout and enhancing the workplace could be a key to slowing the ongoing shortage according to some experts.
Reducing the time spent on administrative documentation for doctors is one example that industry leaders think could curb the burnout many are experiencing. This includes the tasks such as prior authorization, dealing with insurers, time spent in patient portals and more. Other considerations include reducing their workload and providing more onsite mental health services.
Nationwide, thousands of nurses have gone on strikes, citing workplace concerns from pay, to benefits and ongoing staffing shortages.
While the healthcare sector may not be embarking on a return-to-office like other industries around the world, it is still navigating toward a solution in its return to normalcy.