Survey: U.S. Hospitals Face Unprecedented Turnover and Shrinking Talent Pool

Organizations cope with growing knowledge gap as personnel switch jobs

Leaders for Today (LFT), a national health care staffing company based in Wellesley, Massachusetts, conducted a survey of 852 health care candidates to better understand the job motivations, actions, and plans of people in the health care industry. Focusing on C-suite, clinical and nonclinical administration, and physician and nursing positions, the survey found a surprising amount of turnover and attrition, with a waning pool of qualified candidates. The poll uncovered data in the following key areas:

• Unprecedented turnover among hospitals at all levels

• A shrinking talent pool as more hospital employees age toward retirement

• A painfully slow hiring process that is frustrating candidates and hurting hospitals

The survey also found that hospitals are on track to replace approximately half of their staff every five years.

“This study confirmed what is the worst-case scenario for many hospitals: they are losing critical employees faster than they can replace them,” said Bill Haylon, LFT’s CEO.

Alarmingly, LFT says, 42.8% of respondents had been with their current hospitals for fewer than two years, and 66% had been with their hospitals for fewer than five years. Perhaps most concerning, 37.0% of the candidates planned to leave their current hospitals within the next two years, and 68.6% planned to leave within five years. “The institutional knowledge gap is only growing, as hospital employees from top-level leadership positions to staff nurses are switching jobs at a rapid pace,” LFT reported.

The survey results showed that 27.4% of respondents left their jobs for a promotion or a better opportunity for advancement. Another 14.4% left for better compensation. That means that more than half of respondents (58.2%) left for other reasons, including long work hours, frustration, or burn out, resulting in a “vicious cycle” caused by understaffing and a lack of experience, according to LFT.

Retirements add to the problem. The survey found that as the hospital workforce ages, hospitals are looking at a significantly shrinking pool of experienced talent. Nearly half of the respondents (47.7%) indicated that they planned to stop working within the next 10 years, whereas 22.1% of those surveyed were expected to retire within five years.

According to LFT, the survey findings showed that another significant contributor to the hospital employee shortage is the hiring process itself. It appeared that hospitals were often losing candidates who had found other jobs more quickly. Speed and transparency were cited as the top two frustrations with the hospital hiring process. For example, respondents listed “never hearing back from the organization” (50.9%) and “the process takes too long” (46.1%) as primary concerns.

Sources: LFT Survey; May 11, 2017; and LFT Press Release; May 11, 2017.