Health Highlights: Q4 2023

Posted by The Jacobson Group

The healthcare space continues to evolve amid ongoing challenges, pressures and shifts. In our team’s recent conversations with leaders across all areas of health insurance, creating comprehensive human capital strategies remains top of mind. Today’s pace of change and challenging market requires the ability to be creative and flexible in leveraging talent and meeting members’ needs. 

Below are a few foundational areas that contribute to today’s strategic and holistic talent strategies.

Health Highlights-01Shifting Needs
As the industry evolves in response to changing demands, regulations and customer expectations, it’s important for organizations to think about their current talent and those individuals’ potential to meet future organizational needs. This includes considering how to laterally move employees into different areas of the business and broaden their skillsets to span a variety of scenarios. Especially as artificial intelligence and automation open new doors, employing professionals who can flex to take advantage of these opportunities is essential.

Additionally, member experience and accessibility remain priorities across the industry. Individuals are demanding more digital-first solutions and roles such as chief experience officer are becoming more prominent within healthcare. Not surprisingly, technology roles are currently the most in demand positions within life and health insurers, according to our Q3 2023 Insurance Labor Market Study. The most astute health plans are focusing on future needs and connecting these to their current talent strategies and employee development initiatives.

Long-Term Talent Gaps
Adding to the complexities of an evolving marketplace, the talent shortage persists for both payers and providers. Demand is increasing as the overall population ages, compounding the current workforce shortage. A recent PwC study found 82% of health industry executives consider the ability to attract and retain talent as a moderate to serious business risk, compared to 71% of executives across all industries.

In the past 12 months, the primary reason life and health insurers added staff was due to areas being understaffed. Remedying this staffing shortage is a key focus, especially as burnout becomes more common and employees’ mental health suffers from feeling overworked. To build a stronger talent pipeline and grow individuals from within, insurers may consider bringing back more structured internships and training programs. Additionally, it may be necessary to focus on reskilling and upskilling from complementary areas of the business to consistently help alleviate shortages and balance workloads.

Short-Term Labor Shortages
Along with the persistent talent shortage, worker activism has been on the rise in recent months, with strikes taking place in a variety of industries, including healthcare. The inability of wages to keep up with inflation, coupled with a tight labor market, have had a hand in catalyzing multiple strikes around the country. Overall, employees are becoming more vocal in terms of their expectations around working conditions, pay and benefits.

Being proactive and having contingency plans in place in the event of a work stoppage can be crucial in preventing harmful lapses in care and member experience. Temporary staffing firms that specialize in the health insurance industry can provide the necessary talent to bridge these gaps when needed, as well as alleviate standard fluctuations in workload, contributing to the work-life balance and mental wellness of current employees. In fact, 33% of life and health insurers plan to increase their use of temporary employees, compared to 14% in January 2023.   

As health plans face new challenges and opportunities for growth, having the right talent in place will be essential to remain competitive. In the midst of the talent shortage, finding the right individuals with unique skill sets and specific expertise is often a prime differentiator. Intentional and strategic talent strategies are key in coming out ahead in the second half of 2023 and beyond. 

As both expected and unknown changes take place in healthcare, creative, thoughtful and future-focused talent strategies can help set the stage for ongoing success. For more insights, view our past edition of Health Highlights