2018 Trends for Frontline Healthcare Employees

The U.S. labor force, health IT, and healthcare industry are rapidly changing in 2018. Changing needs for job skills, full employment levels, an aging workforce, and increasing diversity will lead to changes that have a considerable impact on U.S. hospitals and health systems. While putting your patients at the forefront of your organizations health goals in 2018, remember the frontline employees who are the voice of your brand to these patients – and be prepared to change!

Waves of learning credentials
One of the most disrupted industries is education, with more 3rd parties offering courses, credentials and certifications than ever before. So many young workforce entrants will avoid costly traditional secondary education/college and pursue low cost online courses to get skills. Groups like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, edX, Udemy, Udacity, and The Khan Academy are leading the charge. Self-directed learning is driving the need for new credentialing.

Focus on upskilling and retraining current workers
There is political discussion around bringing manufacturing jobs back to America, while the media continues to publish alarmist articles on how technology advancements will eliminate jobs. But this may be smoke in mirrors; the biggest issue is finding ways to grow the U.S. worker skills gap! There are currently 6.2M job openings in the U.S. that are unfilled. Companies can’t find the right workers with the right skills, at the right time. Employers will be investing more into their training and development programs in 2018 to fill their skills gaps and reach full capacity.

Artificial Intelligence (Chatbots) become part of the workplace – but for hospitals too?
This has big HR buzz right now, with both excitement and fear. The large digital companies are concentrating on smarter products using AI. There are over 1,000 AI vendors, supporting all types of businesses and people. Companies are using Chatbots as personal assistants, on-demand customer support, data mining, streamlining processes, recovering information, and answering employee questions.

Healthcare is so hands-on and people-centric that you may think Chatbots won’t make a divot in the workforce. But the top roles it replaces are: Information clerks/help desk staff, phone receptionists, assistants, security guards, and cooks/food. Because these roles are often a first step into a healthcare career, it could throw off traditional career pipelines for large hospitals.

EAP programs get prioritized – financial acuity, plus mental health and wellness
With 78% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck and high student loan debts, workers are struggling and it affects their health. Financial struggles affect productivity and job satisfaction. Many companies are helping with loan assistance, financial planning, counseling and mental health. In 2018, mental health issues are slowly carrying less of a stigma in the workplace.

Talent professionals can’t always just give $400 to every employee to spend on health activities, but they can encourage a company culture where health and wellness are promoted day to day. Put up a walking track around the hospital, encourage a charity walk, arrange games and activities, encourage onsite flu shots, or bring in a nutritionist to speak in the break room.

Employee burnout causes turnover
Employees are burning out from working longer hours with no additional compensation, because technology has expanded the work day. A study by Kronos cites that half of HR leaders say employee burnout is responsible for 50%+ of their annual workforce turnover.

Workforce decisions sway consumer behavior
Big data and research is showing a connection between a positive employee/candidate experience and actual revenue. A major study shows that 58% of employees are less likely to buy from a company to which they’ve applied if they don’t get a response to their application. HR will focus more on candidate communications when not hired, shorten hiring process, provide more clear application instructions, and giving notice when positions are filled or no longer considered.Most hospital entry-level employees live in the neighborhoods where they apply for positions, these are future patients. So treat them well when they interact with your health brand.

Companies take diversity more seriously
This subject has been in the conversation for years, but it is reaching a tipping point where companies are investing money in improving the composition of their workforce. Many companies are creating employee resource groups to support all types of diversity, including gender, ethnicity and age. Hospitals will aim to get their staff to mirror populations of their community. Building diversity at the top of the leadership apex may take grooming employees while at lower levels.

Aging workforce
3 in 4 Americans plan to work past retirement age. As Baby boomers maintain their leadership positions, it will be harder for younger workers to advance to new positions, which could lead to high turnover, frustration and stress. Older workers may need tech training to keep skills current, so have a plan for your facility so you can hold on to long tenured employees.

An aging workforce is especially applicable to nursing staff. According to a Fall 2017 study by AMN Healthcare, 54% of bedside nurses are at least thinking about retiring or switching to part-time employment in the next 3 years. Prepare your younger nurses to lead, and encourage them to apply for leadership positions. NCharge: “Nurses Learning to Lead” is a nurse leadership development product that may be a good fit to prepare young nurses to lead.

Leaders encourage more human interaction, soft-skill development
Living in a Tech world has led to a breakdown in basic communication skills. Employers will begin to re-emphasize soft skills like emotional intelligence, collaboration, and negotiation. Ensure that soft skills are on the agenda for employee development.

More Applicant Assessments
HR will give more assessments to a potential new hire before hiring candidates, or transitioning associates to new roles. Employers can test for technical skills or culture fit. Use it sparingly though, applicants hate long rambling, transparent assessments. Only ask questions that have direct relevance to what you want to know.

Diversifying Perks
“Diversifying perks” may sound like Millennial code for “silly work place nonsense.” Obviously hospitals are not going to start looking like Silicon Valley work spaces any time soon, but don’t fear benefits and perks that seem weird, or offbeat. Employees aren’t looking for NERF guns or bean bag chairs, its more what they represent. Don’t shut down perk ideas just because they seem odd. Reclining chairs, music, and an Espresso machine in the break room may be the sweet spot, and will show your employees that you want them to be comfortable at work, and socialize at appropriate times.

Leveraging Training as an Employee Benefit
Training is becoming a differentiator when companies compete for talent. Personal and professional development is an important focus area for modern employees when seeking employment, as well as when deciding to stay with their current employer. Provide accessible training to refine and grow employee skills. Developed employees are more motivated and successful in their roles. Training should be leveraged as an employee incentive and added to existing benefits packages, alongside retirement and health options. Predictions are for a 2-5% global training spend increase in 2018.

What are the fastest growing roles in the U.S. in 2018?

Heads up! 10 out of the 30 are in healthcare, and 6 of the 10 are entry-level or mid-level frontline employees. With the economy at Full-Employment levels and an aging American workforce, HR will be developing plans to fill and hang onto their employees, especially in these 6 positions. Occupational Therapist Assistants/Aides, Physical Therapists Assistants/Aides, Pharmacy Techs, Medical Assistants, Skin Care Specialists, and Personal Aides/Home Health Aides.

“10 Workplace Trends You’ll See in 2018”, Forbes Nov 1 2017, Dan Schawbel
2018 HR Trends – Candidate Experience – What You Need to Know, Rezoomo in Human Resources Today, Nov 2 2017
“5 Major Talent Trends for 2018″, Capterra Talent Management, Nov 7 2017, Halden Ingwersen
5 workplace trends you’ll see in 2018″… Workforce Institute
Top 5 Workplace Trends for 2018, Laura Handrick, Nov 6 2017, Fit Small Business
Trends 2018: Speed is the heart of the learner experience” Doug Harward and Ken Taylor, Nov 2017, Training Industry
Top 30 fastest-growing jobs, 2018, Boston.com, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forbes
Society for Human Resource Management – HR Magazine: “How to Accommodate Employees with Mental Illness”