In this section:
Finding the right employees for the right role in our dynamic labor market is more critical than ever. We conduct research to understand their needs and priorities to meet their employment expectations. We know they want to make a difference. Be heard. Build a meaningful career of serving others.
Knowing that we provide care to culturally diverse communities, we also seek to ensure that employees' demographics align with the communities we serve. This allows us to care for consumers and their families with greater understanding and compassion.
To achieve these objectives, we chart individual paths to success, instill coaching skills in our leaders and provide clear direction on how our employees can deliver our Vision and Mission. To build and maintain our pipeline of essential personnel, we proactively:
- Use data and analytics to forecast hiring needs.
- Recruit qualified applicants through social media, online employment platforms and employee referrals. We offer incentives to reach candidates with the right skills, which adds to our strong culture.
- Collaborate with high school and university administrators to educate students about the benefits of a healthcare career.
- Pay living wages, offer competitive benefits and scholarships, reimburse tuition and help repay student loans.
Once hired, new employees are connected with our onboarding navigators, ensuring they are warmly welcomed, set up for success and easily transitioned into our system.
- Launched additional graduate medical education programs at hospitals in Fort Worth, Hurst-Euless-Bedford and Denton to increase the pipeline of physicians in North Texas.
- Hired more than 6,000 new employees to fill workforce shortage gaps due to higher turnover and increased patient volumes; 15% of these were rehires. These included licensed vocational nurses and individuals with an associate degree in nursing to support registered nurses and respiratory therapists caring for COVID-19 patients. We also brought in temporary nurses and other contract clinical staff to help us respond to high COVID-19 surges and provide relief when many of our employees became ill from the virus.
- Increased sign-on and employee referral incentives to encourage employees to refer qualified candidates for hard-to-fill positions in times of great need.
- Ended the year with a workforce size of 25,270, up from 24,708 in 2020.
Retaining valuable employees is essential to preserving institutional knowledge, maintaining productivity and our high-performing culture, and reducing hiring and development costs.
To encourage long-term careers at Texas Health, we welcome employees of various cultures and backgrounds, give employees opportunities to achieve their potential, provide competitive compensation and benefits, and provide resources and support to improve their well-being. We honor their contributions through our Applause recognition program, which issues systemwide and team-specific awards, monetary accolades and thank you cards.
- Implemented various strategies to encourage retention during a challenging year of high turnover that impacted health systems across the nation. We invested more than $230 million to stabilize our workforce, including:
- Increasing shift differentials for day, night, weekend, critical shift and emerging disease.
- Paying bonuses for working additional shifts over a six, eight, 12 or 16-week period.
- Increasing our minimum wage to $15 per hour.
- Raising wages for registered nurses, allied health workers and other support personnel.
- Paying incentives in recognition of our people’s dedication, creativity and perseverance during this difficult time.
- Providing compassionate care relief pay when an employee contracted COVID-19.
- Increasing free employee assistance program visits to eight and adding Self-Care Check-ins, which connects employees to mental health counselors.
- Establishing new benefits, such as paid parental leave, student loan repayment and infertility coverage that took effect in 2022.
- Recognized 83% of our workforce through Applause, exceeding our 75% goal. We issued $2.2 million in spot recognition awards and distributed 140,536 thank you cards.
- Ended the year with an annualized retention rate of 83.8%, down from 86% in 2020.
Snapshot: Navigating an Industrywide Staffing Shortage
Texas experienced a shortage of physicians and nurses long before the pandemic began and is now facing a widespread loss of healthcare workers due to the emotional toll, retirement and lucrative temporary assignments. During peak surges, experienced nurses across the nation were offered up to four times their salary to take traveling contracts.
According to the Texas Workforce Commission, there were 20,000 openings for registered nurses in August 2021. The state spent nearly $7 billion in federal aid for temporary nurses, therapists and physicians to maintain care delivery. Texas Health invested over $160 million in total rewards, offering retention bonuses and increasing wages to retain valuable employees. While funding provided some relief, the industry cannot sustain such high labor costs.
Texas Health intends to continue offering competitive wages and benefits, assessing our care delivery staffing models to reduce burnout, reinforcing how much we value and appreciate our care teams and actively re-recruiting those who took short-term jobs. We also are engaging state policymakers to remove employment barriers and fund medical and clinical education programs to expedite licensing and credentialing.