Thought leadership

Hospitals and Health Systems: Continued Staffing Concerns, Uncertain Future

Hospitals and Health Systems: Continued Staffing Concerns, Uncertain Future

Gallagher Pulse Surveys Offer Relevant Insights

Few things are certain amid the COVID-19 pandemic, except uncertainty.  What does that mean for hospitals, health systems and other healthcare providers?  Healthcare leaders are struggling with the unpredictability of staffing and asking themselves:

  • With cancellations of elective surgeries, how do I manage staffing surpluses in non-essential areas?
  • How do I staff to meet surge staffing needs?
  • Should I place employees on furlough?  Should I use premium or hazard pay?
  • Are my peers as concerned about staffing as I am today and will be in the near future?

Peers provide insights

Gallagher’s healthcare pulse surveys are designed to offer relevant peer insights in unprecedented times.

Our first pulse survey report, COVID-19 Healthcare Survey: Staffing provides insights from 164 organizations, of which 77% reported treating current COVID-19 cases.


*The size of the bubbles represent the number of participants in that state.  Range is 1 (smallest) to 12 (largest)

Concerns Are Real – Whether or Not in a COVID-19 Hot Spot

Seventeen is the percentage point rise in levels of extreme concern reported by all participants when asked “How concerned are you regarding staffing levels right now?  This level is compared to the same question shown below, “…two weeks from now?”  And as expected, those in “hot spots” report the highest level of concern both today and two weeks from today.

Survey Participant Group

Extreme Concern


Two Weeks From Today

COVID-19 Hot Spot



Non-COVID 19 Hot Spot



All Organizations



Health System Staffing Tactics Are Most Heavily Focused on Nursing

The percentage of participants employing staffing strategies surveyed to address anticipated nurse staffing needs: hiring new staff (93%), using new graduates (96.7%), calling back retirees (95%), flexing up per diems (96.6%), using agency staff (95%), and reassigning staff from low volume areas (93%).  

The percentage of participants employing staffing strategies surveyed to address anticipated respiratory staffing needs: hiring new staff (64%), flexing up per diems (76%), using agency staff (52%), and reassigning staff from low volume areas (52%).   

Healthcare organizations reported similar staffing strategies consistently, regardless of whether or not they were located in a hotspot state.

Beyond Staffing -- Keeping Staff Engaged

No matter the strategy to secure staffing, keeping staff engaged is critical to an organization’s long-term health.  Gallagher’s engagement research suggests that focusing on resiliency can help organizations “bend the curve” on burn-out and disengagement during times of great organizational stress.   Organizations that focus on both sides of the equation – securing staff and engaging staff –  likely will emerge best prepared to face the future and support organizational wellbeing.

Pulse Survey #2, COVID-19 Healthcare Survey: Compensation, Launched April 22

Gallagher’s new survey focuses on the compensation topics that participants in the first pulse reported as important.  Pay practice questions include prevalence and amounts of premium pay for different essential positions, changes in pay for non-essential staff, messaging about pay changes, cost saving measures implemented, and other temporary services provided in light of the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., concierge services, meals, child care, or housing).  Click here to participate in this brief survey to receive the full results completely free of charge.  Full results are available only to survey participants.

At Gallagher, our goal is to help organizations weather this time and to face the future with confidence. Please contact us with any questions you may have.



©2020 Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Consulting and insurance brokerage services to be provided by Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. and/or its affiliate Gallagher Benefit Services (Canada) Group Inc. Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. is a licensed insurance agency that does business in California as “Gallagher Benefit Services of California Insurance Services” and in Massachusetts as “Gallagher Benefit Insurance Services.” Neither Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., nor its affiliates provide accounting, legal or tax advice.




Yvonne Gardner

Yvonne Gardner is a Senior Consultant within Gallagher’s Human Resources & Compensation Consulting practice. Upon receiving her B.A. degree in Political Science – Public Service from the University of California at Davis, Ms. Gardner moved to Germany to study German language and culture. She returned to the US to join the HayGroup’s San Francisco Bay Area office, where she provided leadership to several of the firm’s national compensation, benefits and organization effectiveness surveys. It is ...

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Martina Young

Martina Young is a Senior Consultant in the Human Resources & Compensation Consulting practice of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. with over 20 years of experience in compensation and human resources.  Ms. Young works with organizations from all industries nationwide, specializing in staff, middle management, and executive, compensation programs. She guides projects from assessment of pay programs through the design and implementation of new programs.  Ms. Young has a key interest in developing employee communication ...

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