The Great Resignation describes the widespread phenomenon of (most notably) U.S. workers leaving their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This mass exodus of talent over the last several months has been startling as burnout levels have reached an all-time high, particularly in the areas of healthcare and healthcare technology. This turnover has led to a short supply of qualified labor, pitting employers against each other in a race for talent.  As the implementation and use of digital health solutions soars, it pays to understand the root causes of the current talent shortage, methods for building a sustainable workforce and strategies for ensuring quality Epic employment opportunities for skilled professionals. 

Healthcare Has Been Hit Hard

Since the start of the pandemic, the annual rate of turnover across key healthcare departments went from 18 percent to 30 to 50 percent – a staggering number nearly doubling rates seen just two years prior. Based on a study by Limeade, there are five main reasons why employees have quit their jobs in the past couple of months:

  • Burnout (40%)
  • Reorganization of company (34%)
  • Lack of flexibility in schedule (20%); instances of discrimination (20%); ideas not being valued (20%)
  • Insufficient benefits (19%)
  • Well-being not supported by employer (16%)

To top it all off, employees are working longer hours than ever before. In fact, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overtime hours are up 52 percent as of September 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic baseline in 2019. Increasing the burden further is healthcare workers’ increased exposure to COVID-19, which can often require necessary quarantine and recovery time. As such, healthcare workers’ use of sick time in critical areas such as ICUs is up 50 percent for full-time clinical staff and 60 percent for part-time employees in comparison to the pre-pandemic baseline.

Vaccine mandates and revised guidelines are increasingly becoming commonplace, even recently being announced at Epic. As these mandates add new layers of complication to already stressed health systems, some staffing agencies are predicting up to a five percent resignation rate in response to these expanding policies. 

Taken together, the overall threat of COVID exposure coupled with unmanageable working hours and impending departures due to vaccine mandates, is creating an unprecedented employment situation in healthcare – one which is also reflected in the availability of HIT professionals.

Unprecedented Times Call for Creative Solutions

The importance of finding creative solutions for today’s skills gap cannot be overstated. Some companies have chosen to go beyond increased competition. Examples of these creative incentives include sign-on or retention bonuses, complimentary stay interviews, quantitative metrics for talent trajectory within the company, work from home options and other outside-of-box benefits designed to hold onto current employees and attract new talent. Leadership needs to be the catalyst to enact such solutions right away to ensure they win the fight against burnout backlash. 

However, organizations need to beware of blanket offerings. Instead, it is important to provide employees with the right support that’s tailored to their needs. One way to figure out which personalized solutions will work best is to begin surveying your team to discover what makes them unique. From assessing individual personality traits to discovering what motivates your group as a whole, taking the time to zero in on what helps your team succeed can not only boost productivity, but it’s also one way to increase retention and overall employee satisfaction. 

At Medix, we have seen these results first-hand through the implementation of the MyPrint Assessment, which highlights personality traits, motivations and behaviors that define someone in the workplace. Taking a close look at these components shows how talent can best feel supported, even in an unstable environment. This allows for better communication surrounding workload, learning style and, ultimately, how to keep top-tier performers on your team.

Creating a Sustainable Epic Workforce

The shifting of Epic talent from one health system to another happening currently in the industry is simply not sustainable. With more and more clients signing with Epic, the available talent pool continues to shrink. Becker’s Hospital Review has reported that from September through the year 2020 alone, 190 health systems went live on an Epic EHR system, representing the company’s busiest fall season to date. As the U.S. healthcare system continues to invest in digital health solutions, the need for Epic-certified talent seems to be destined to climb. 

While it’s true that short-term consultants may be able to temporarily plug the skill gaps plaguing these projects, these band-aid solutions can lead to long-term budgetary issues and lack of talent buy-in. To battle against the cycle of short-sighted fixes, organizations need to create hiring roadmaps designed to cultivate top-performing teams that foster a strong, defined culture. After all, retention goes beyond a paycheck alone; it’s an investment in the long-term health of your workforce. 

Has the Great Resignation made it difficult for you to build and maintain your Epic workforce? Medix Technology’s signature solution, MedixDirect®, develops local talent for careers as Epic-certified professionals. Learn more by clicking here.

Eric Born Medix Technology

Eric Born is Vice President of Business Development at Medix Technology. With more than 25 years of experience with consulting and supporting clients at every step of the Epic journey, Eric specializes in crafting personalized solutions designed to build high-performing EHR teams. When not writing, he can be seen around his hometown cheering on his three kids with his wife Sara, or working in the yard with their dogs, Rocky and Millie.