Connections for Success



Navigating an Understaffed Workforce
Kevin Omahen

Much like everything else, there is no certainty as to how long the labor shortage will continue. That said, there are a few strategies to address this issue:

  1. Cross-Train. There are plenty of responsibilities that can be delegated to other staff. Ask your team what responsibilities they may have that they could teach someone else in the office with no prior education or training. Examples include how to schedule an appointment properly, print a receipt or email one to a patient and prep a room.

    The point is to have all staff demonstrate that they can properly perform these tasks. To provide an incentive, some practices are attaching bonuses or raises for staff members who learn all the items.

  2. Accomplish What Matters. Staying organized and knowing exactly what needs to be accomplished is key. Evaluate your daily schedule and discuss a plan for prioritizing with the team each morning. For example, if you typically finish all documentation while the patient is still in the office, perhaps this is a task that can be delayed. Every day is also different. Do not just go through the motions, but treat each day differently and accomplish what is most important first.
  3. Look Back to College. Hiring college students — especially premed, nursing or physician assistant students — can be a solution to a tough job market. Yes, they are likely to be short-term employees and unable to work full time, but they are usually motivated, intelligent and highly trainable.
  4. Create the Best Work Environment. The easiest way to have a fully staffed workforce is to not lose your best employees. Losing staff is often unavoidable, but some environments are more attractive to work in then others. Find out what motivates employees, what keeps them at your office and what may be bothering them currently. Learning more about the wants and needs of your staff and adjusting the workplace environment accordingly will help keep your employees working with you.
  5. Refine How You Hire. Understanding what recruits new hires the best and adapting to what the market wants is a must. Examine your hiring process and determine if  modifications  are needed. To start with, if you are having problems finding staff to hire, consider raising compensation levels and increasing benefits, especially if you can make the budget work. In a tight job market, when employees are in demand, you might have to offer extra incentives to pull in the best candidates. Just remember to communicate effectively and perhaps offer added perks to your existing staff so that they are less likely to resent new staff and look for employment elsewhere. Be sure to utilize all technologies available to recruit talent, such as online job-listings that give recruits the option to interview via an online meeting platform or in-person (whichever the recruit prefers).

Weathering the storm

With a limited workforce, keeping a positive and welcoming workplace is incredibly important. Find ways to improve the workspace, get creative with staffing and look for ways to improve your recruiting process. 

Related Read: Could Adding Staff Members Improve Your Practice? Strategic New Hires Could Sharpen Your Competitive Edge

For more information, contact Kevin Omahen at [email protected] or 312.670.7444. Visit to learn more about our Health Care Group.

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