The Nursing Shortage: Recruiting and Retaining with Health Benefits

All Complementary Benefits Executive Health May 10, 2018

The healthcare industry is facing a nursing shortage. Just as recruitment and retention is a top priority for all employers, recruiting and retaining nurse staff in particular is a top priority for healthcare facilities. Today’s tight talent market is making recruitment and retention difficult, but it is not the only contributing factor to the nursing shortage.

Nursing Shortage Contributing Factors

  • Nursing school enrollment is not growing fast enough to meet the demand.
  • Over half of nursing staff is approaching retirement age.
  • The aging population of baby boomers requires a need for more nurse care. By 2050, the demographic of people over 65 will have doubled since 2014, reaching 83.7 million.
  • Insufficient staffing raises stress, decreases job satisfaction, and drives current nurses to leave the profession.
  • High nurse retirement and turnover is affecting access to care, increasing the need for more nurses to better the value of care.

Recruitment and Retention Tactics

In order to confront this nursing shortage, healthcare facilities must find a way to boost recruitment and retention.

While compensation and sign-on bonuses are important, they are taxed. Plus, giving new nurses a sign-on bonus can harbor resentment from tenured nurses (like in this article).

Benefits are employees’ top consideration before joining or leaving a company, with healthcare benefits being #1. But due to rising healthcare costs, healthcare employers have taken steps to shift more health insurance costs onto employees, which does not create attractive health benefits to boost nurse talent management. Let’s take a look at healthcare industry health benefit trends.

Healthcare Employee Health Benefit Trends

  • 73% of healthcare employers offer at least one HDHP—that’s up 56% from last year.
  • Employees have shown a below average willingness to buy in to HSAs and voluntary benefits
  • Traditional healthcare plans like PPOs and HMOs are more expensive, with employee contributions up 24% and employer contributions down 11% since 2016. These plans also have deductibles much higher than the average.
  • Despite their higher price, employees are more likely to opt for traditional health plans than an HDHP.

Boost Benefits and Recruitment/Retention

With these statistics in mind, it is clear that healthcare employers need to improve health benefits for their nursing staff in order to bolster their recruitment and retention aims.

While supplemental voluntary plans offer a way to provide additional coverage on top of the primary plan, employees don’t seem to be buying in to it. This could be because these plans are typically employee-funded, so it isn’t actually another benefit for the employee, but instead another expense. HSAs are also lacking employee support. This could be because they don’t offer true insurance protection and are relatively limited.

Luckily, there is another supplemental health benefit that provides employer-paid insurance with annual coverage from $5,000 to $100,000 called supplemental expense reimbursed insurance. This is the perfect benefit to boost talent management because it can be offered to select employee classes, so it’s possible to enhance coverage for just the nursing staff.

Expense reimbursed insurance is also more powerful than a pay increase or sign-on bonus because premium and reimbursements aren’t subject to payroll taxes.* That means employers can spend less to provide nurses with more value.

And finally, because of the carve-out coverage, healthcare employers can still keep their benefits budget in check because they won’t have to increase the company’s overall healthcare expenditure to increase health benefits for just the nurses.

This is the optimal solution for healthcare employers to boost their health benefits, improve the nursing shortage, and keep costs in-line.

Fierce Healthcare.
Fast Company.
*This is not local, state or federal tax advice as each person and company is unique. It is recommended that you seek the independent counsel of a professional tax adviser.

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