A workforce crisis is threatening the U.S. economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found 8.1 million vacant job openings in the United States. As lawmakers, nonprofits, and employers consider how to help close employment gaps, apprenticeship programs have been gaining attention.

Employee health and well-being took center stage for many workplaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers faced difficult decisions regarding remote work, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and time off for employees who needed to quarantine after falling ill or being exposed to the novel coronavirus. Employees struggled with concerns about viral exposure in the workplace. In addition, employees often experienced high stress from increased workloads or financial uncertainty, as more workplaces had to furlough or terminate employees due to financial difficulties.

It’s always intriguing to find areas that improved during the pandemic. According to applicants, it happened in recruiting. The 2020 North American Candidate Experience Research Report found positive sentiment from candidates shot up (from 25% to 31%), while resentment dropped (from 14% to 8%). This finding leads to the obvious question: Why?

Many organizations commit to enhancing both diversity and inclusion, but most companies end up pushing diversity measures while falling short on improving inclusion. Diversity is easier to measure concretely through data collected from applicants and employees. As long as people are willing to disclose demographic information, you can monitor diversity.

Although the healthcare talent shortage has been looming for years now, it hit home last year during the height of the pandemic. In November, more than 1,000 U.S. hospitals acknowledged experiencing a severe worker shortage. 

The COVID-19 pandemic put an immense strain on healthcare workers and exacerbated the ever-growing healthcare workforce shortage. Even contingent labor pools, a common go-to for healthcare organizations to bolster staffing, were stretched thin last year. In the pandemic's early months, one travel nursing organization saw their order volume jump more than seven times year-over-year levels.

The COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns about how we treat mental health in the workplace. And few employees felt the stress of the pandemic more than those on the front lines: practitioners and healthcare workers treating severe COVID-19 cases or exposed to the virus in hospital settings. A study from Mental Health America conducted at the height of the pandemic found that 93% of healthcare workers reported stress, 86% reported anxiety, and 76% said they were feeling exhaustion and burnout.

This year, during National Nurses Week—an annual event celebrated on May 6-12 to honor the late Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing—industry leaders extended the 2020 theme “Year of the Nurse” into 2021. This recognition builds on the increased visibility of nurses’ contributions from last year as they continue to be at the forefront of battling COVID-19.

More than a year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the workplace has changed forever. As we continue on the road to recovery, the virtual 2021 American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) Conference provided an opportunity for healthcare HR professionals to connect, innovate, and transform the future of the industry. “We spent 2020 dealing with the fall out from COVID and moving to telemedicine,” said Jeremy Sadlier, Interim Executive Director at ASHHRA.

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