In the midst of ongoing staffing issues within the U.S. healthcare industry, allied healthcare staffing provider AlliedUP is seeking to improve staff shortages and turnover through a new staffing model. By operating as a worker-owned cooperative that provides allied healthcare professionals to hospitals across the country, it seeks to upend many of the existing shortcomings of traditional staffing models.
As Milissa Ales-Barnicoat, CEO of AlliedUP explains, the current staffing and turnover issues in healthcare are hardly new phenomenons. While the COVID-19 pandemic has helped bring them to the forefront of public knowledge, the challenges AlliedUP seeks to solve have been present for some time.
Existing Issues Accelerated By the Pandemic
Healthcare staff shortages and turnover issues first became widespread public knowledge during the COVID-19 pandemic, when intense working conditions caused many nurses and doctors to suffer intense burnout.
Notably, a 2021 investigation by McKinsey & Company found that 84 percent of healthcare systems were experiencing ongoing challenges with nursing workforce staffing. Sixty percent were also having challenges with achieving adequate coverage for clinical support staff. During the period of the survey, the nursing turnover rate was at 15.8 percent — a 4.7 percentage point increase from the year prior.
“While COVID-19 definitely accelerated the problem, the reality is that many of the issues contributing to current staffing shortages already existed before the pandemic,” Ales-Barnicoat explains.
“Hospitals were already struggling with high turnover and low retention. The work environment has always been stressful, but it’s more than that. Poor compensation models have created income disparity for support healthcare positions, largely made up by women and minorities. Poor leadership practices cause professionals to feel unvalued, especially when their work-life balance suffers.”
Despite this, healthcare is expected to be one of the industries with the greatest demand for new jobs — with an estimated 2.6 million additional jobs created by 2030. Filling these positions may prove a challenge when so many are choosing to leave the profession, potentially putting even greater strain on healthcare systems across the country.
“These ongoing problems prove that the traditional staffing and registry model is failing for pre- and post-pandemic hospital and healthcare facilities,” Ales-Barnicoat says. “Progressive, empathetic leaders are looking to new-model employers that encourage and assist the success and growth of healthcare professionals. A community- and empowerment-building culture is essential for healthcare systems that want to shape their own company culture change.”
Indeed, studies have found that hospitals that adopt a “servant leadership” approach are better poised to reduce staff turnover and ensure that employees feel valued. But this mindset must also be present in the staffing model that supplies healthcare workers in the first place.
How AlliedUP Is Improving Healthcare Staffing
As Ales-Barnicoat explains, AlliedUP stands at the forefront of helping healthcare systems overcome current workforce challenges by focusing on the healthcare professionals themselves.
“As a worker-owned cooperative, we offer a supportive community and ecosystem of services including mentorship, education, financial stability and wealth-building opportunities. As a result, our workers get what they need to be fully engaged, while enhancing stability and decreasing turnover. When healthcare talent is treated fairly and given the opportunity to create true value for themselves through their work, healthcare facilities and patients stand to benefit as well.”
Allied healthcare workers who are part of AlliedUP receive benefits such as annual dividends, secure healthcare benefits and mentorship. They also have the opportunity to choose the type of work schedule that works best for their needs, be it full-time, part-time or even per diem — offering the flexibility that is necessary to reduce the risk of burnout.
Employee ownership models have already been on the rise in many industries, and have been hailed by some as the future of corporate America. Ales-Barnicoat feels the same can occur in the healthcare industry.
“AlliedUP’s employee-owner model provides outstanding wages, benefits and career opportunities to its employees, while staffing hospitals and health facilities with qualified, trained and engaged workers. As a result, it works to solve many underlying issues that beset healthcare staffing even before the pandemic struck, giving healthcare providers confidence to address healthcare staffing shortages with high-quality talent.”
As hospitals minimize turnover with healthcare workers who are fully invested in their career growth, they can consistently deliver higher-quality care to patients — an outcome that will ultimately bolster the facility’s bottom line, as well.
Creating a Better Healthcare System
Ales-Barnicoat views AlliedUP’s staffing model as the way to create a more equitable future for healthcare workers, while also directly addressing the shortages and turnover issues that have plagued the industry.
“When workers have a better support community through a worker-owned cooperative model, they become more invested in their career. Worker-ownership delivers a level of commitment above and beyond other staffing models, which results in better patient care and reduced staffing stress for hospitals. A solution that provides wins to patients, providers and healthcare workers can lift the entire system.”
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