Current projections estimate that the global healthcare worker shortage will reach 18 million by 2030 — so if you hate long wait times at the doctor’s office, you’re going to need to learn some patience (ba dum tsh).

Jokes aside, the consequences of the shortage are already impacting health workers and their patients, and they’re on track to become even worse. While some reasons for the supply gap are out of anyone’s hands — namely more people living longer lives — there are still plenty of crucial strategies to tackle at the organizational level. 

For human resources leaders in the healthcare industry, that means finding new ways to attract and engage employees. And as recent research reveals what’s weighing on healthcare workers the most — and causing them to call it quits — it’s clear that offering a robust benefits package is an indispensable piece of the puzzle.


It’s no secret that healthcare workers have been deeply impacted by pandemic-related stress, but the numbers are pretty alarming. A study last spring found that:

  • 93 percent of healthcare workers felt stress on a regular basis
  • 86 percent felt anxious on a regular basis
  • 82 percent felt emotionally exhausted
  • Two-thirds reported that they either weren’t receiving or were uncertain that they were receiving adequate emotional support

With up to half of turnover across all industries chalked up to burnout — and 31 percent of nurses specifically naming burnout as the reason they left a job — HR leaders can’t afford to ignore burnout-defense benefits like mental health support, fitness subscriptions, and generous paid time off policies. 

Work-Life Balance

Recharging when you’re off the clock is an essential part of combating burnout. But when the margins between work and life are slim, bouncing back is tough. 

While poor work-life balance can lead to performance issues in the workplace, many of the most immediate symptoms are experienced at home — and research shows clear opportunities for HR decision makers to intervene:

  • Consider introducing options like meal kit subscriptions or housekeeping services to support the 63 percent of healthcare workers who said they’re too tired to cook and do chores when they come home from work. 
  • For the 48 percent of healthcare workers who said that parenting causes significant stress and the 79 percent who report difficulty finding balance between family and work responsibilities, benefits like daycare stipends, flexible schedules, and family leave are essential
  • Even perks like massage therapy and meditation apps can go a long way to help the 70 percent of healthcare workers who report trouble sleeping

Financial Stress

40 percent of healthcare workers report feeling burdened by financial stress — and it’s no wonder why. 

At one end of the pay spectrum, the median hourly wage of essential support, service, and direct care workers — those who make up the majority of the healthcare industry — is just $13.48. With sub-living wages, financial wellness and economic equity are out of reach — and in order to move the needle for their existing workforce and meet rising demand, HR executives must advocate for meaningful support like hazard pay, adequate paid time off, access to retirement and emergency savings programs, and financial wellness education. 

But even the highest paid healthcare workers like physicians, surgeons, and nurses aren’t immune to financial stress — and two key factors are to blame. First, researchers have found that many providers lack key financial literacy skills: medical school residents scored just 52 percent when they were quizzed on basic personal finance topics during a 2017 study. And second, sky-high student loan debt is part of the job: in 2019, the average medical school debt was $201,490. Providing financial planning resources and student loan repayment benefits are a surefire tactic to attract more providers and keep current staff engaged.