One of the many effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a dramatic shift in the way people approach their professional careers. Rather than suffering in silence, those who don’t feel fulfilled are running toward the exit, in record numbers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the number of Americans quitting their jobs in any given month hovers near all-time highs, and job openings across the country hover around 10 million” (The Business Journal). In November of 2021, a record 3.5 million resignations were reported, with healthcare being one of the hardest hit industries.
This comes as no surprise to CIOs and other leaders, many of whom are scrambling to recruit and retain top talent. With tight margins to consider, competing with tech and other lucrative verticals is out of the question, prompting more organizations to rely on hybrid and remote work models as an incentive.
With these new models, however, comes a new set of challenges – one of which is ensuring teams are utilizing PTO and taking time to recharge. This, as many employers are finding, is easier said than done. According to a survey by software firm Skynova, despite the fact that nearly 39 percent of employers have increased the amount of PTO offered, the majority (around 64 percent) of employees say they “sometimes or often avoid taking time off because they feel they are unable to do so.”
The result is a disconnect that has left many feeling frustrated, to put it mildly. For healthcare leaders, it has upped the ante when it comes to ensuring IT, clinical, and security staff are able to maintain balance in their lives.
The big question, of course, is how? To that end, healthsystemCIO reached out to a handful of influential leaders to get their thoughts on how they’re addressing these challenges. Previously, we’ve heard from Aaron Miri (Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Baptist Health) and Nicholas Szymanski (CIO, Signature Healthcare). In this installment, Kate Pierce, CIO & CISO at North Country Hospital, shares her thoughts.
Kate Pierce on the Importance of Work-Life Balance
At North Country Hospital, our leaders and staff certainly understand the benefits of a good work-life balance, and it’s something strived for across the organization. However, this balance is becoming more difficult to achieve as the lines between work and life continue to converge. Organizationally, there are still an elevated number of hybrid and/or remote workforce members, as well as some significant staffing shortages in many areas requiring existing staff to fill gaps in coverage. In recent weeks, there has also been another spike in staff unexpectedly out due to Covid-19, as well as those who have planned summer breaks with their families. These factors all contribute to the complexity of maintaining sufficient coverage to achieve our mission.
Over the past 2-3 years, Covid has significantly changed the way we “work.” Just as patients no longer need to come to a facility to receive care, staff no longer need to be on site to provide service, depending on their role. This has resulted in work hours becoming much more flexible.
Although staff are encouraged to disconnect during time off, whether this can be achieved varies greatly depending on their position and responsibilities, as well as their ability to adapt to this new environment. In any case, the lines between work and life have blurred significantly. While the changes brought by Covid may increase the ability to juggle family and work needs in some situations, the same changes can result in it becoming more difficult to completely embrace either aspect. In order to avoid burn-out, it is important that staff are given an opportunity to completely disconnect. This requires deliberate intent, clear expectations, and an organizational understanding and commitment to the importance of the work-life balance.