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Survey: Providers Balance Attracting, Retaining Essential Workers With Cost-Reduction

Survey: Providers Balance Attracting, Retaining Essential Workers With Cost-Reduction

Resiliency Strategies Can Help Retain Staff

To pay or not to pay a premium for COVID-19 direct patient care. That is the question vexing many healthcare organizations since late first quarter, based on feedback from Gallagher’s March 2020 Healthcare Pulse survey focused on pandemic staffing challenges. Cost containment strategies served as the second area for which human resource leaders sought information. Based on those two areas of feedback, Gallagher’s healthcare survey team crafted another pulse survey to explore organizational practices.

Attracting and Retaining Essential Staff

Media reports may suggest that most healthcare organizations now pay “hazard” premiums. Based on our survey results, only 18% of the 197 healthcare organizations participating are paying a premium to registered nurses. The majority of which are paying only COVID-19 facing registered nurses the premium. Only 16% of organizations pay premiums to respiratory therapists, and 14% pay premiums to clinical support technicians (patient care technicians, emergency room techs, etc.). More than 90% of organizations that pay premiums to staff in these positions pay a flat dollar rate per hour. Pay premium prevalence was 10% or less for the other positions surveyed.

Approximately 60% of organizations responding provide additional temporary support measures for staff such as childcare, housing for those not wanting to expose family members, and meals.


Hard Reality of Reducing Costs
When asked what changes they instituted within their organizations for non-essential staff, 69% reported making some type of change. Of those, 64% reported furloughing staff, 28% reported pay reductions, and 13% reported layoffs.

Survey responses indicate that the change starts at the top, with 61% of organizations reporting at least one cost saving measure implemented at the executive level.

Respondents report delaying pay increases as the top cost containment measure reported in the survey, followed by a reduction in pay, mostly for executives (31%). 



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

What best fits one organization’s needs and circumstances may or may not align with what others are doing or are not doing. However in all cases, leaders must communicate to employees about the actions they are taking or are not taking and why, to maintain and build employee trust during this difficult time. Communication with staff may be an organization’s most valuable retention and cost-savings tool.


COVID-19 Healthcare Pulse Survey No. 3 Explores The Impact of COVID-19 on Executive Incentive and Benefit Programs

Gallagher’s new healthcare pulse survey focuses in more detail on the cost-saving measures healthcare organizations are deploying during the pandemic. Examples include such aspects of salary decreases as amount and duration, potential changes to incentive plans, and modifications to executive benefits programs such as Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans (SERPs). Click here to participate in this brief survey to receive the results 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.



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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