While competition for certain roles in medical group practices remains intense, fewer healthcare leaders say they are expanding or adding to their employee benefits as a tool to recruit and retain those workers.
A June 13, 2023, MGMA Stat poll found that 35% of medical groups added or increased benefits for employees in the past year, while 65% reported “no.” The poll had 498 applicable responses.
The poll results mark a 10-percentage-point shift from a similar MGMA Stat poll from May 31, 2022, which found nearly half (45%) of medical groups had made improvements or additions to the slate of benefits offered to employees. However, the latest poll shows the share of group practices working to boost their benefit offerings is still above levels noted in a June 8, 2021, poll that found only about one in four (26%) of groups were adding or expanding employee benefits.
Healthcare leaders are still on guard for potential turnover and losing out on talented candidates, as better wages and benefits were the top reason given for employee exits in a February 2, 2022, poll, well ahead of factors such as burnout, retirement or leaving the workforce. While sectors such as technology have seen sizable layoffs in the past year, demand for labor in ambulatory care remains high alongside the demands for care as practice leaders address lingering issues from the COVID-19 pandemic and The Great Resignation:
- Staffing was rated the biggest challenge for medical group leaders for a second year in a row last year.
- Improving patient access and scheduling — often in response to wait times getting worse due to lack of staffing — was rated the top patient experience priority for medical groups in a Dec. 13, 2022, MGMA Stat poll.
- Wage increases and various types of bonuses were frequently mentioned among healthcare leaders in MGMA’s recent polling on medical assistant (MA) recruitment and retention strategies.
The top changes in employee benefits in 2023
A larger majority of group practices reported not making updates or additions this year compared to 2022, and many of those leaders told MGMA that their efforts in this area have been put on hold after either:
- Greatly expanding benefits in the past two years; or
- Being in a financial situation in which hiring is frozen or headcounts are falling, and expanded offerings are not sustainable.
However, leaders at group practices that did not expand or add offerings told MGMA that they are considering making changes to:
- Employer contributions to 401(k) match
- Paid sick leave, wellness and mental health days
- Employee assistance programs (EAP)
- The tenure-based bands/tiers at which employees earn more paid time off
- Shifts of siloed time off buckets into a single bank usable for any purpose
- More health savings account (HAS) offerings
- Short- and long-term disability insurance plans
- New pet insurance and legal aid offerings.
As group practices continue to face challenges in recruitment and hiring for high-demand candidates, several respondents to this poll noted that their benefit offerings expanded into areas around professional development for their workers, such as access to certifications, training or improved tuition reimbursement. This focus reflects MGMA’s polling on MA recruitment and retention strategies, which noted many healthcare leaders finding success by creating career ladder programs and other routes for clinical staff to grow with the organization.
Family leave and reproductive health
One of the most common responses from healthcare leaders who added or expanded benefits this year were focused on maternity and paternity leave, especially as more states mandate or plan to implement paid family leave in 2024. Employers in states that enact paid family leave should pay close attention, as maternity and paternity leave often are implemented to offer fathers the same benefit as mothers.
According to the brokerage Newfront, reproductive care and family planning benefits — including coverage for abortion-related medical expenses and infertility care — have been on the rise as health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) respond to the 2022 Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Everybody likes to save
While the pace of inflationary growth has cooled significantly since the summer of 2022, most consumers are still paying much higher prices for everyday goods than they did in 2020, and many employers have responded by creating or using an employee discount program that offers perks on grocery items, recreational passes and more.
- Discover more about the benefits employees value most (Forbes Advisor)
- Read about even more employee benefit offerings for 2023 (Gusto | Talkshop)
- Watch for the 2023 MGMA DataDive Management and Staff Compensation launch later this month (MGMA Insights)
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