Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Research: Healthcare Industry Facing Exodus of Older Workers

According to research conducted by Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, health care employers can expect a large-scale exodus of older workers in the forthcoming years, increasing the need for skilled workers. According to "Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Responsive Action Steps for the Health Care & Social Assistance Sector", authored by Stephen Sweet, PhD and Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, PhD, the health care sector’s demographic profile is disproportionately composed of older workers, but health care enterprises report engaging in significantly less assessment of their workforces.
Our analysis reveals that many health care sector employers have only a limited knowledge of the talent pressures they are likely to face. Their talent management strategies can benefit immensely by understanding factors that could attract replacement workers, stem turnover, and facilitate knowledge transfer. In comparison to other sectors, health care sector employers are more likely to integrate some types of flexible work arrangements in their organizational designs and engage employees in decision-making activities. There is, however, considerable room for expansion. One marker of the need for further development of flexible work options is the extent that employees report work-family conflicts impeding their abilities to engage in work. Additionally, our analysis shows that older workers are attracted to jobs that have flexibility, and that considering alternate work arrangements may be a strategic means of retaining these workers (as well as workers at other career stages) and transferring knowledge between generations. By structuring jobs to match the needs of a diverse, multigenerational workforce, the health care sector can maximize their prospects of securing the best workers who possess the best skills.
Among other things, the report finds that only 29% of healthcare organizations have assessed the age of their workforces (29%), 42% have assessed the skills they anticipate needing, and 48% have assessed the competency sets of current employees, compared to 43%, 54% and 61% of employers in other industries, respectively. However, 62% of employees in the health sector have received formal training from their employers, and 36% are involved in decision-making task forces and 39% self managed teams, suggesting that the sector is at least somewhat aware of the impending skills gap.

Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College Publication News (June 2010)

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