"If It Goes, I Go:" Healthcare Employees tell Employers What They Need

Healthcare Employee Benefits

Some years ago, we talked to healthcare providers about the challenges of the job. One of the sentiments that came up can be summarized by an employee comment:

"Work-life balance can sometimes interfere with making sure the patient comes first."

What's Challenging Today's Healthcare Employees - and Employers

This is a tough thing for healthcare organizations to hear. After all, as a Horizons Workforce Consulting white paper pointed out, more pointedly than in any other industry, healthcare employees drive their employer's success, with both payments and outcomes squarely on caregivers' shoulders.

But such is the conundrum for healthcare organizations: the endless cycle of exceptionally long shifts and life-or-death decisions puts employees in a job that challenges their well-being, yet their compromised well-being is the very thing that could challenge their organization's success.

What employers are then recognizing is the equation of work, life, and the healthcare organization, and the necessity of caring for the caregiver. And like any industry at a crossroads, many are evolving with the times.

Check the website of the most highly regarded hospitals, and you'll see a long list of benefits that include not just the usual (health, dental, disability), but also professional development, family support, and lifestyle benefits.

Such response programs are catching up to today's healthcare employee. Of the roughly 12-million people in healthcare in this country, 80 percent are women. That points to a likelihood of other life circumstances - children, primary family earner, elder care, and sandwich generation responsibilities- that make caregiving not just shift work, but a 24-hour job. Nurses especially are notorious for being stretched thin. In 2011, the American Nurse Association said fatigue and stress were the common catalysts for America's nurses burning out and as a result, a "chronic nursing shortage," advents the health industry can ill afford.

"If It Goes, I go" What Healthcare Employees are Saying

Some response programs, like wellness groups, are aimed squarely at employees' psyches. But many organizations are seeing an increased need for practical solutions as well. The predominantly female healthcare population makes child care, elder care, and back-up child care an attractive add. And many employees are speaking up about their desire to have them, with 67% of healthcare employees telling us in 2012 that they'd be more likely to stay with their current employer because they have child care.

That includes doctors as well as nurses. Talking about a child care program offered to employees by a hospital, one physician told us flatly in 2012, "If it goes, I go."

The Key to Healthcare Employer Success

While hospital administrators are concerned with their employees' well-being, they also recognize the basic efficacy of having these programs. Whether in a blizzard or a hurricane, ERs don't run without people. Having back-up care or short-term replacement care in place ensures that people will be where the hospital needs them and the right state of mind. As a benefits manager from Weill Cornell Medical College put it, "We could not have somebody who's supposed to be doing surgery at 6 o'clock in the morning worrying all night about what their back-up child care was going to be."

Such benefits might have been a rarity just a few decades ago. But increasingly, it's going to be the exception that doesn't offer them. With nursing expected to grow 19% in the next decade, and hundreds of thousands of nurses needed to replace retiring baby boomers, those without such programs stand to fall behind on multiple fronts.

With caregivers' contributions key to the health of patients and their employers, reads a Bright Horizons white paper on the subject, this is an especially significant issue.

"Patient caregivers drive the financial results of the healthcare system," says Horizons Workforce Consulting VP Kim Callaway.  "A nurse who knows that his/her child is well cared for is able to be fully present while at work and is therefore much less likely to miss something - or worse, make a mistake."


What's the ROI of Bright Horizons dependent care for healthcare providers? Watch the video and find out why leading healthcare organizations look to Bright Horizons for talent-management strategies that fuel healthcare employer success. 

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.