Staffing has been a major challenge for businesses across the board in recent years. But it’s been especially challenging for the behavioral health and human services (BHHS) industry. Behavioral healthcare staffing has always been particularly difficult due to limited budgets, high employee turnover rates, and the level of specialized skills and certifications required for these roles.
These issues create a revolving door of employees and worsen burnout among staff who do stick around. Leaders continue to rank recruiting and retention as top organizational priorities yet struggle to make progress on these staffing issues. However, there are solutions to alleviate behavioral health staffing problems.
Software services like a human capital management (HCM) system can improve recruiting processes and talent management strategies to meet your staffing needs. Let’s explore how an HCM platform can address key staffing issues to maintain strong engagement through the entire employee lifecycle.
Why Do Organizations Struggle With Behavioral Health Staffing?
Maintaining adequate staffing levels is imperative for providing proper patient care. Short-staffed organizations may have longer wait times for appointments or higher provider turnover, resulting in less consistent care. For inpatient behavioral health facilities, understaffing can also present safety concerns for patients and staff.
However, many organizations still struggle to meet staffing demands, even as behavioral healthcare leaders continue to rank recruiting and retention as a top focus. Before getting to solutions, here’s a deeper look at common pain points for behavioral health staffing.
Limited Budgets and Lack of Competitive Pay
Whether behavioral healthcare organizations make full-time direct hires or build partnerships with staffing agencies to fill short-term roles, filling positions can be tricky when working with a tight budget.
Many organizations in BHHS operate as non-profits or rely on grant funding to operate. Health insurance reimbursements, which are often a primary source of income for healthcare entities, tend to be lower for behavioral health organizations than for other medical providers. This does not leave a lot of room in the budget for competitive staff pay, making it more difficult to attract top candidates.
Lack of Qualified Candidates
Behavioral healthcare facilities and providers also have a smaller talent pool than other healthcare fields. Licensed mental health and human services professionals are in high demand, but there’s often a limited supply of candidates in specific regions with the credentials, skills, and experience required for the job.
Behavioral healthcare professionals such as clinical social workers, nurse practitioners, substance use counselors, behavioral health techs, clinicians, and other patient care workers must meet strict licensing and educational requirements. These aren’t typically skills that can be taught on the job, so companies must fight for a sparse supply of talent with the right licensing and backgrounds.
High Turnover Rates
A large part of the issue with behavioral health staffing is that these organizations have higher-than-average turnover rates. In the 2023 Behavioral Health Industries Report from ContinuumCloud, it was found that 91% of behavioral health organizations have a turnover rate of 20% or greater.
You may be surprised by how many star employees are contemplating quitting. In Gallup’s 2023 State of the Global Workplace Report, 51% of employees surveyed across different fields and regions indicated that they were actively or passively looking for a new job. Since behavioral health professionals are at an increased risk of experiencing employee burnout, that percentage may even be higher within behavioral healthcare systems.
How Can a Human Capital Management System Improve Behavioral Health Staffing Issues?
The right software solution can help address common pain points in behavioral health staffing. Explore how an HCM platform can be leveraged as an effective solution.
Better Visibility of Staffing Needs and Costs
Behavioral health staffing is a bit different than traditional office staffing. You’re often working with different labor allocations and cost centers, non-traditional staff schedules, and may not always have the budget to fill vacant roles.
An HCM platform can help navigate these issues by providing a more organized view of your vacancies, labor budget, and staffing needs so that you can properly prioritize hiring. ContinuumCloud’s HCM system includes Position Control as its foundation, which allows employers to clearly review open roles, set specific salary ranges, and create streamlined hiring approval workflows. This ensures the right jobs are being filled and everyone is clear on the budgeted salary.
Streamlined Recruiting and Onboarding
Recruiting and onboarding are the first two stages of the employee lifecycle, and they are your best opportunity to nurture employee relations right away. Connecting with and engaging new team members can build a strong foundation for job satisfaction.
Using an HCM platform to manage recruiting and onboarding can provide a better candidate and new hire experience by improving communication throughout the process and streamlining the paperwork and data entry components.
One of the biggest recruiting frustrations from the candidate's perspective is slow processes and poor communication. Candidates don’t want to wait weeks to hear back after applying. As such, employers must streamline their processes to improve response times. With the right HCM solution, employers can collect applicant data in one centralized location to quickly review and rate candidates, schedule interviews, and gain approval to make the hire promptly.
With ContinuumCloud, once a hire is made, the platform provides a smooth onboarding experience by porting over that applicant data for the new hire. Eliminating unnecessary paperwork and data entry allows your new employee to dive into training activities and the more exciting parts of onboarding (like meeting their new team) right away. Streamlining the recruiting and onboarding process also helps you fill roles faster and get new hires up to speed and ready to work more efficiently.
Engaging and Retaining Existing Staff
Human capital management software can help behavioral health services organizations better engage and connect with employees through simplified communication tools. With ContinuumCloud, the helpful “company news” feature makes it easy for employers to share information and updates with team members. Leaders can share messages of encouragement, uplifting patient success stories, or internal company news or metrics with the entire employee population or specific departments to keep morale high.
ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform also includes a built-in employee recognition feature called Shout Outs that makes it easier for supervisors and peers to recognize staff members who go above and beyond. By providing regular recognition through public channels like Shout Outs and private one-on-one channels (like ContinuumCloud’s quick, templated manager check-in messages), leaders can ensure that employees feel acknowledged and appreciated.
In fact, Harvard Business Review found that employees who rated their leaders as “great” at providing recognition were 40% more engaged than other employees. Since higher employee engagement is correlated to better retention rates and greater productivity, this small investment of time and resources can have a huge payoff.
Improve Behavioral Health Staffing With ContinuumCloud
Maintaining appropriate staffing levels is essential for behavioral health organizations to maintain operational efficiency and deliver stellar patient care. Without the right solution, it can be hard to fill roles and keep people engaged and happy in those roles.
ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform has the tools that behavioral health organizations need to more effectively track staffing levels, recruit for open roles, onboard new hires, and retain staff. ContinuumCloud’s HCM was built specifically to address the needs of behavioral health and human services providers, including the unique staffing challenges they face.
Get in touch to learn more about ContinuumCloud’s HCM solution and how it can boost your behavioral health staffing goals.