Upskilling in healthcare to retain talent and reduce burnout

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of frontline healthcare workers report burnout, with the highest rate amongst younger staff (69%). Over the last two years, they worked endless shifts to combat a global pandemic and were forced to pivot to new technologies to provide virtual care with little or no training. These challenges have made it difficult for healthcare organizations to attract and retain talent.

Rather than lose their frontline talent, healthcare systems can actively train employees for new opportunities. Healthcare systems will need countless people to effectively serve patients to manipulate and analyze data, generate reports using a CRM, or track projects using digital tools. Offering frontline healthcare workers opportunities to learn new digital skills can help them support patient care in new ways.

However, leadership often overlooks what employees need to learn new technology. While 90% of health executives surveyed by PwC’s Health Research Institute see employee training as a top priority, many aren’t sure how to build an effective training program that maximizes employee and company benefits.


healthcare employee burnout


Building a strategy to equip healthcare workers with digital skills

Partnering with digital skills providers to scope your needs and build education programs that equip your workforce with digital skills can increase retention rates.  A survey of technology executives from 25 health organizations conducted by The Deloitte Center of Health Solutions found that 80% of respondents considered leadership the key to digital transformation success. Working with an experienced partner and identifying an executive champion is key to creating a training program that drives outcomes.

Healthcare leaders must think creatively regarding training, particularly because healthcare staff is usually short on time. To realistically embed learning into healthcare contexts, organizations can consider some of the following tips:

  • Opt for a flexibly paced upskilling solution that enables learning in the flow of work. One of the biggest advantages of remote learning is its flexibility and ability to make training fit with erratic shift schedules. By offering programs that feature modularized content, healthcare administrators can ensure that workers can fit in training when they have time.
  • Staff up and use temporary workers to fill in while training takes place. Sometimes people learn best with real human support. Don’t overlook the importance of having a dedicated instructor when circumstances allow. It may make sense for your organization to employ a supportive, holistic education model to train employees efficiently and effectively.


Why prioritize upskilling immediately?

Organizations prioritizing upskilling can retain talent longer and fill new roles more quickly.  Equipping their existing employees with new skills enables a “hidden workforce” to get hard-to-fill jobs.

For example, Waste Management began offering Pathstream certificate programs to their employees. One individual, Robert, a dispatcher, enrolled in a data analytics program where he learned skills like statistical analysis, data visualization, and SQL. He was promoted to a pricing analyst position at Waste Management, a development that enabled them to retain Robert and avoid sourcing external candidates.

Upskilling can:

Reduce employee burnout.

Helping employees learn new skills can reduce burnout and staffing shortages. Frontline workers might be eager for a new position where they can still support healthcare delivery but do it from an office rather than the frontline. Rather than lose these individuals who have valuable firsthand experience caring for patients, healthcare systems can redeploy them to new roles rather than lose them altogether.


Enhance workplace efficiency.

Medical professionals, back-office staff, and frontline workers faced heavy workloads before the pandemic, with administrative tasks consuming their time day-to-day. Adopting new technologies can reduce administrative burdens by helping employees identify new opportunities for efficiency. Equipping more healthcare workers with analytical or project management skills can teach them to work smarter, not harder.


Career development = Improved employee retention.

70% of employees say they would switch jobs to a new company offering robust learning and development opportunities. The healthcare industry is broad and diverse. Some individuals are unsure of what career development opportunities are available to them. Unlocking employees’ potential by identifying and investing in more effective education and training programs gives employees a greater sense of purpose.


Help HR uncover new talent pools.

Not all healthcare workers will serve on the frontline, but many employees are overlooked because recruiters only look for candidates with the exact credentials for the job. An organization that makes upskilling opportunities accessible to all employees can uncover talent amongst their hidden workforce. According to the Branch report, “hourly workers are twice as interested in earning a promotion at their current employer via their work experience than in changing jobs to climb the ladder.”

Expand your workforce’s career opportunities.

As the healthcare industry embarks on digital transformation, companies should know that training can mean many different things. Training employees to properly use new interfaces and reporting technologies is one piece of the puzzle. Looking towards the future and building a catalog of programs that expand digital skills literacy, such as data analytics, is equally as important. Analytics has the potential to predict needs in real-time, and preparing your workforce to employ these skills will help you advance and plan for the future.


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