Dealing with Workforce Disruptions: The RPO Perspective

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is causing major disruption across healthcare enterprises. A workforce in flux is among the leading challenges confronting leadership as the response to the crisis unfolds. The issue has many facets and varied coping strategies. As leaders seek much-needed help on all levels, AMN Leadership Solutions highlights one workforce management option, Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), that can alleviate current staffing pressures and set the stage for post-crisis benefits.

Multiple Workforce Disruptions

Several factors are contributing to an increasingly volatile staff situation:

  • Coverage problems due to high incidence of employees impacted by the virus.
  • Difficulties managing the technology, security, and workflow needs posed by a surge of remote workers.
  • Productivity or quality gaps as both clinical and non-clinical staff are adding new duties and / or redeployed to different roles.
  • Needed positions left unfilled. This problem is likely to grow more critical the longer the crisis persists.
  • Increase in demand for staff while responding to the COVID crisis.
  • Unplanned turnover post-COVID crisis.

Another vector of disruption is more subtle. Today’s near-total focus on crisis response may stall progress toward a number of important longer-range strategic objectives. Leaders understand that the crisis will pass, and the priorities to achieve the mandates of value-based care will quickly return to the forefront.

Ensuring an Engaged Workforce

The current moment calls for two significant organizational attributes: resilience and agility. These attributes are highly prized in healthcare and key to long-term success. Certainly, organizations are displaying a measure of agile and creative response to a burgeoning crisis. But a legitimate concern for leadership is what can be done to avert elevated levels of frustration, disengagement, and even burnout throughout the organization mid- and post-crisis. Maintaining teamwork, support, and flexibility now will be valuable when hospitals begin working through resumption of operations, addressing the backlog of deferred surgeries, planning for a likely “second wave” coronavirus outbreak, as well as the seasonal flu that will follow, while assessing staffing in the face of a widely-anticipated economic recession. All of these factors create the largest demand in history for hiring flexible talent.

Help from RPO: A Timely Consideration

Organizations need all the help they can get at this juncture. Human resources is an important function to be reinforced even amidst the crisis. Post-crisis operations will benefit from keeping the recruitment process intact, so that key personnel such as perioperative staff can be in place to ramp-up normal operations.

RPO is a solution to consider for HR optimization and flexibility. RPO firms partner with healthcare organizations to manage core talent management functions, including sourcing, screening, scheduling, applicant tracking and vendor management. RPO can be flexibly applied in this environment:

  • From individual projects to complete outsourcing. Options are available to enable you to mobilize resources for the areas of greatest need, and quickly apply agile management at scale, including staffing for seasonality and crisis response (COVID and crisis related).
  • Sourcing both clinical and non-clinical staff. The latter, while perhaps less prioritized in crisis situations, is important. As we are seeing in the retail market, in which delivery and store personnel are key players in the supply chain, so too are revenue cycle, allied health and a range of support personnel key teammates in managing the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Speed-to-value. Experienced outsource personnel can “hit the ground running” for the organization.

Benefits Today and Tomorrow

The benefits of leveraging RPO now can be significant, including:

  • Liberating time for internal HR staff to focus on high priority needs.
  • Keeping the recruiting pipeline filled.
  • Providing agility to flex recruitment resources up and down.
  • Bring in outside perspective to help learn from COVID-19 crisis and embed best practices into the HR operation.


The healthcare provider industry is facing maximum disruption. In this “all hands on deck” situation, every resource and tool is a potential source of assistance. RPO is one solution that deserves consideration as it can deliver results now and provide flexibility to address the coming workforce management issues in the coronavirus aftermath.

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