Human Resources – Shortage

The Human Resources – Shortage risk relates to the shortage of human resources resulting from increased absenteeism, aging workforce, disability management practices, inconsistent assignment of staffing levels and inability to recruit and retain competent resources. This risk can lead to negative outcomes such as, staff burnout, decreased staff morale, increased workplace injuries, inadequate quality of service, reputation loss, financial loss due to increased overtime/utilization of consultants, longer patient/client wait time and potential patient/client harm. This document contains information entered by HIROC subscriber healthcare organizations (acute and non-acute) in the Risk Register application to help you in your assessment of this risk.

Ranking / Ratings

  • Likelihood – 3.46  
  • Impact – 3.23  

The Risk Register allows for risks to be assessed on a five-point likelihood and impact scale, with five being the highest.

Key Controls / Mitigation Strategies

  • Retention and recruitment
    • Dedicated resource(s) in place that handles active recruitment/retention efforts
    • Increase the number of placements for students/interns/residents with appropriate incentives
    • Comprehensive talent development program and opportunities for growth
    • Market analysis of salaries, benefits, employee assistance program
    • Increase staff engagement through various methods
    • Mentorship programs for staff and students
    • Wellness room and/or gym for staff to promote self-care
    • Clarity in role, responsibilities and accountability to reduce ambiguity and anxiety
    • Build on culture of caring, safety, innovation, respect, community, progressive HR programs
    • Provide organizational development support in advancing team cohesion and conflict resolution
    • Attendance at career fairs and other targeted professional conferences/symposiums

Note: Human resources shortage can result from failure to recruit and retain resources. For more strategies related to recruitment and retention, please refer to the Risk Profile: Human Resources: Recruitment/Retention.

  • Early identification and intervention
    • Review annual operating plan and number of changes to identify workload concerns as early as possible
    • Collaboration between managers and human resources for early anticipation of staffing needs and actions required to address gaps
    • Utilization of various methods to identify resource requirements (e.g. staffing request forms, surveys, algorithms, etc.), patient/client volumes and their needs
    • Implementation of robust systems that can help track and report on staffing level information by department/program
    • Ability to update staffing levels and day to day staffing based on occupancy
    • Prioritization and re-prioritization of duties based on the staffing level
    • Regular review of absenteeism data to identify patterns and problem areas
    • Where necessary, use available casual staff to address immediate resource requirements
  • Other human resources management strategies
    • Board/Senior Management dashboard contains key indicators such as vacancy and staff shortage
    • Workplace injury prevention strategies and safe workplace standards implemented, monitored and refreshed regularly
    • Strategies in place to manage sick leaves and disability
    • Improve versatility of employees and build capabilities required for staff to move between programs to fill gaps
    • Appropriate backup plans for key resources (e.g. Anesthesiologist, Pathologist, etc.)
    • Appropriate number of casual staff to meet the needs of special projects, sick leaves and holidays
    • Temporary “healthy workforce” executive taskforce formed as needed to address issues as they emerge
    • Education to managers and staff on sick time and effects of shortage of human resources
    • Proper succession planning in place
    • Encourage teamwork and sharing of tasks to avoid burnout

Monitoring / Indicators

  • Dashboard on vacancy and turnover
  • Length of time to fill key positions
  • Shortages, unfilled shifts, overtime, sick leave, agency cost
  • Attendance support compliance and scheduling process
  • Retirement rate
  • Work tenure and age demographics
  • Market salary adjustments
  • Exit interviews
  • New employee recruitments
  • WSIB costs
  • Employee engagement survey results

Note: Information presented in this document has been taken from the shared repository of risks captured by HIROC subscribers participating in the Integrated Risk Management program.