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We Attended HR Healthcare: Here’s What We Learned

by Nayya Marketing October 27, 2022

We Attended HR Healthcare: Here’s What We Learned

Earlier this week, we had the opportunity to attend the HR Healthcare event in Austin, Texas. The event was packed with insightful sessions, exciting presentations, and creative networking opportunities (read: a puppy party).

Because we know that our readers are mostly HR professionals, we took notes on the interesting HR trends and takeaways from the presentations we attended. Here’s what we learned:

Talent Attraction & Retention

Talent attraction and retention are the top two HR concerns in the healthcare space, and there is an urgency to solve these challenges as patients can be affected when teams are burned out or understaffed.

When you look at the numbers, it’s evident there’s a problem at hand. The healthcare industry is currently facing:

  • An immediate shortage of 2 million nurses
  • 12% year over year labor cost increases
  • Over 100% turnover in key clinical positions due to burnout and competition

And how is HR trying to solve this problem? Total rewards, reskilling & upskilling, and community re-connection are key levers that HR teams are pulling to solve these challenges.

Since talent attraction and retention are the top two issues that HR leaders in healthcare are focused on, we wanted to provide a bit more context around this.

Here are some quick hits we noted from the sessions we attended:

  • The primary focus of talent attraction is the nursing shortage. Hospitals and health systems are turning to large sign-on bonuses and increasing wages to beat out competitors, but this is making the talent retention problem all the more challenging.
  • Within non-clinical positions, the competition for talent has grown significantly as well. Hospital systems are not just competing against healthcare, but also against other industries. For example, a food services or administrative employee at a hospital could leave healthcare altogether for a restaurant chain or a conglomerate like Amazon.
  • Burnout is resulting in permanent exits from the industry at a significantly faster rate than new talent is trained to take on those jobs - lots of leaders are working on re-engineering jobs to meet talent shortages or accelerating recruiting cycles.
  • Employees are changing jobs, even internally, because of burnout factors and incentive misalignment (for example, making a move as they could make more money as an overtime eligible nurse than in leadership).
  • Gig economy is a new normal in this space - and many leaders acknowledged that it is here to stay. However, there is a desire to refocus on FTE development vs. agencies and temporary staffing and think more strategically about internal gigs.

Total Rewards

Total rewards is viewed as a primary driver of retention and a top 3 concern of employees. There is a universal acknowledgment that rewards are not being communicated effectively and demonstrating the value of the generous reward offered is key for attraction and retention. This is something that came up in just about every session.

One presentation highlighted that “employee experience is a combination of ‘what they [employees] get,’ and ‘how they feel about it.’” Meaning, while generous total rewards are key, how employees actually understand and appreciate those benefits is even more important.

Another interesting takeaway? Compensation seems to be the first conversation that recruiting teams are having in the interview process. Demand has pushed up both wages and short-term incentives, which isn’t sustainable for hospital systems that are already facing inflationary pressures for other costs and labor. HR teams across healthcare are looking for more financially sustainable ways to drive employee retention.

The last thing to highlight on the total rewards side is the general consensus that across healthcare organizations, there is a benefits communication problem. Finding the right technology to solve the “benefits communication problem” in a meaningful way is on the minds of most HR leaders, particularly with respect to ease of use and access. Saving employees the time it takes to investigate and choose benefits can contribute to productivity — and there is a general perception that technology within benefits can help contribute to a more productive workforce.

Community & Communication:

Building community and fostering transparent, healthy communication is key when working towards improved retention.

To better support flexibility and promote work-life balance, many healthcare organizations are embracing remote work and hybrid strategies. Because of this, there is an increased effort to ensure that employees feel connected to the company mission, no matter where they are working from. When lives are at stake, ensuring that you’re connected to purpose-driven work is key.

As an effort to improve community, healthcare organizations can offer incentives to employees for visiting caregivers within their domestic network. For example, if you work in a healthcare facility, and you leverage doctors that work within that facility when you need care, it will help build a sense of community and will help build buy-in for the work they do as an employee. Some healthcare organizations are also spinning up mental health centers within their facilities for employees to use post-pandemic to ensure that they are feeling supported and can easily access mental health care that’s covered by their insurance.

Fostering effective communication is becoming more critical than ever in the healthcare space. Employees in healthcare don’t have the same access to their manager or HR teams that is traditionally seen in a corporate environment. Supervisors in clinical settings often carry a full patient load while also managing a team, meaning, conversations about career development are less frequent and robust. Across the sessions, we learned that communication across levels, functions and channels is a universal challenge.

It’s clear though that healthcare employers are taking the time to listen to their employees - almost every session we attended touched on how data and feedback is being used to measure, manage and improve the employee experience and understand what employees want. Data is also being used to understand the impact of people strategies on patient outcomes.


Lastly, we want to touch on some key takeaways we learned about upskilling and reskilling.

With talent shortages expected to continue into 2023, there is a significant focus on upskilling and reskilling staff to keep them within the hospital system vs. jumping externally to find opportunity. In fact, investment in professional development has led to 34% increase in talent retention for key positions. Strategies for professional development and career management include everything from more prominent career pathing strategies, to more significant tuition reimbursement benefits, to partnerships with external institutions to skill up their workforce.

Complex organizational structures and systems make understanding the availability of new opportunities more challenging. Because of this, HR teams are starting to zone in their focus on building awareness of roles and the benefits/rewards that come with new opportunities. HR teams know that many of their healthcare workers are purpose driven and skilled, and with the right enablement and L&D, they can be driven to rise the ranks within the organization. With this knowledge in mind, teams are shifting their focus on upskilling employees much earlier in the value chain, way before they even need the fill open roles. This helps them get ahead of talent exits and ensure succession in key roles across the organization.

In Conclusion

We hope you found these key takeaways as interesting and insightful as we found the sessions at HR Healthcare! If you have any questions, or are interested in how Nayya can help solve retention challenges, drive cost-savings, and support employee L&D in the healthcare space, be sure to reach out here.

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