2023 L&D Trends for Lower Paid Frontline Employees at U.S. Health Systems

Healthcare frontline Employee with blue scrubs making bed.

As we enter 2023, learning and development is likely at the forefront of HR teams minds at U.S. based health systems. At some facilities, L&D for non-clinical frontline staff was put on hold during the COVID pandemic era. But we’re seeing that those facilities may be looking to make up for lost time and for good reason. With a labor crunch for frontline staff in almost every metro area, investing L&D opportunities, for these employees, could be a differentiator for your health system. An example of this is Fairview Health Services (MN), that made an organizational goal to have 100% of its 33,000 employees to have a development-based goal this year. So, what are L&D trends that Catalyst Learning Company sees coming in 2023 and beyond?

Make It Easy to Plan, Participate and Move Up

With renewed post-pandemic interest in L&D, HR teams will look to knock down training barriers and find potential reasons employees do not take advantage of learning opportunities. Incentives may not align with the needs of employees and real barriers to participation may exist. Smart HR teams are looking at participation or lack of it and are asking for employee feedback to find root cause issues including lack of awareness, time pressures, or not understanding the benefit.  In 2023, we’ll see more HR leaders looking at their systems and figuring out what is and isn’t working, and why. Robust career exploration tools, clear career pathways, more robust and effective communication, development plans and goals throughout an employee’s tenure and career success stories can serve as strong motivation to show employees of what is possible and how they can utilize available resources and opportunities.

Upskilling to Help Build an Ambitious, Engaged, and Diverse Workforce

Upskilling efforts show associates that they matter, opening new avenues for advancement and progression and can be a powerful “grow from within” strategy to meet your staffing needs. DEI efforts are also a big trend for 2023, and Upskilling can support a hospitals diversity, equity and inclusion planning. It can expand the pipeline of diverse employees, building employee growth in coordination with business needs. Upskilling leads to employee loyalty and a reliable pipeline of talent for management positions. It can include on-the-job training, cross-training, stretch assignments, and job shadowing. It could also include helping employees navigate the credentialing process for better roles, like allied health roles for example. With retention a bigger focus than ever, Upskilling efforts will be an even bigger trend in 2023. See our related article, Frontline Healthcare Education: Building Learner Confidence and Enabling Advancement.

Mentoring and Coaching Programs

In a healthcare setting, the constant churn of turnover of frontline staff challenges the ability to deliver high quality care. But coaching and a people-centered management approach increases retention, employee satisfaction, and quality of care. Look for more formal coaching programs at health systems this year. 1×1 coaching is a basic but important first step in employee learning and development. And it can be a catalyst for employees to pursue new L&D opportunities.

Formal coaching and mentoring programs sound great, but how do you make learning stick? How much of your training sessions do managers remember and apply on their teams? HR teams and organization development leaders are recognizing that for coaching efforts to work, they need to provide managers training they’ll remember. This includes bite sized, actionable techniques in effective management, such as active listening. After teaching manger coaching techniques, systems will help managers to collaborate, build bonds and support each other.

See our related article, Frontline Employees: Coaching for Success.

Simulation Experience and Microlearning

Virtual employee training, and non-classroom based digital learning affects nearly every job. The delivery of healthcare is moving to smaller decentralized locations, so with less employees at one place, online simulations, and self-taught modules are seen as a new strategy to deliver dispersed learning effectively and efficiently.

In addition, organizations have recognized the need to shorten time “classroom” time and focus faster on the specific skills needed. Microlearnings are bite-sized solutions that are accessible in non-classroom formats, and a great way to get important skill-building to frontline staff without overwhelming them and disrupting operations. Short video micro scenarios can demonstrate effective ways to interact with patients. This learning method can also improve communication, medical, technical, and soft skills. Some healthcare systems are also moving to blended learning for frontline staff, combining in-person training and discussion with self-paced online microlearning modules.

Catalyst Learning’s microlearning product, CLiMB, provides basic professionalism and skill instruction for entry-level healthcare employees. CLiMB is an online library of focused, 10–20-minute microlearnings, which provide training on concepts like basic professionalism, communication, and time and stress management. It uses real-world scenarios that happen in US hospitals and health settings, with immediate learner application.

Career Pathways

Even though there are many opportunities in healthcare to move up and grow, many new applicants have no idea how an entry-level job can lead to a career life-long career. Transparent career pathways, that make it easy to understand the opportunities and how to get there, are a hiring and retention differentiator. With the tight labor market in 2023, an employer looking to differentiate themselves may want to show how it can support career navigation and pathways that lead to better paying roles. Health systems may do this by partnering with local education and training providers and creating career pathway maps including the required credentials, education, salary, etc…

See our related case study, Geisinger (PA) Builds Career Pipelines for Individual Contributors.

Catalyst Learning offers the “Building My Career” course for HR teams, which helps educate frontline employees about healthcare career pathways. It helps employees understand their interests/skills and matches them with in-demand roles at your organization. Frontline workers could be best suited for support services roles, administrative roles, or move into allied health roles or even nursing/LPN/patient care tech roles. Career exploration tools can help chart what L&D is needed for associates to obtain goals and can be a first step into career growth. Learn more about CareerCare and exploration tools available. We have always seen HR teams promote roles of high need, but exploration tools are a newer trend, which anticipate future role success based on skills and personality.

“Cross-Training and Upskilling Build an Inclusive Workforce: To boost the retention and engagement of diverse and underrepresented employees, invest in their professional development.” Bain & Company, Julie Coffman, Elyse Rosenblum, Andrea D’Arcy, Laura Thompson Love

“Six Trends for Effective Healthcare Training,” KWG Learning (2022 KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd.)

National Fund for Workforce Solutions – Best Practices that can be “programmatic” or “organizational.”

“How Upskilling Can Build a More Diverse Workforce,” ATD – Association for Training and Development. Anisa Purbasari Horton, December 20, 2022

“Trends in Healthcare Training,” Fredrickson Learning, Jill Stanton + “Expanding the Definition of Development,” Hannah Peterson, Director of Organizational Development and Learning, Fairview Health Services

“The Importance of Training & Development in the Workplace,” CHRON, Shelley Frost

“Bridging the advancement gap: What frontline employees want – and what employers think they want.” McKinsey & Company, July 2022, Swathi Bhaskaran, Andrew Davis, Christophe Desbriere, Sara Wasserteil