Even before Covid-19, America faced a shortage of physicians and nurses. The pandemic further challenged our industry to innovate and embrace a change management mindset. Like other companies, healthcare staffing companies faced a dramatic choice: quickly adapt to the upended healthcare environment while simultaneously meeting the needs of healthcare workers, or get left behind.

Public health crisis or not, as healthcare providers, our moral obligation to care for the sick is always kept front and center. This shared view among Cross Country Healthcare’s leadership – and many in our industry – helps us consistently keep the bar high for patient care, while at the same time serving our clients and candidates. But Covid-19 challenged us to improve our structure and processes even more to meet the needs of our patients, employees and our clients.

While no one would choose to be tested by a pandemic, our company has become even more nimble and operationally efficient than before. Here’s how:

Mobilization. Within a span of days, we mobilized our operations to become fully remote. We were already using technologies like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, so it was just a matter of relying on it full-time to communicate with colleagues. By working quickly, we were able to scale up our virtual operations and enable our staff to work from home almost immediately. The digital transformation we had underway, and continue to invest in, means not just great clinical excellence, but also a candidate experience to help them find their right job fast. In many cases, this has been matched by facilities’ investment in streamlined processes and technology that helps us screen and place staff even faster.

Connections. We kept our interpersonal connections strong through company-wide virtual town hall meetings, a strong HR presence online to support our teams and keep them tied into company news, and regular management check-ins, including skip-level meetings (manager meets with their direct report’s report) to ensure the entire organization stayed closely aligned.

Provider wellness. Nurses, in particular, have faced a high level of burnout and depression. We provided a 24/7 hotline staffed by our chief clinical officer, who served as one of several clinical resources to answer all questions. This was crucial to address the changing – what seemed like almost daily – Covid-19 policies that varied from state to state, answer questions about individual facility policies and more. We also enhanced counseling and therapy benefits for our clinicians through “live” sessions or through an on-demand platform, as well as engaging a licensed psychotherapist to provide counseling on a group or individual basis to our employees for Covid-related stressors. Providing validation, listening and supporting our staff has helped us not only recruit but retain top talent in our competitive field.

Flexibility. Over the past year, people in every sector have come to expect, and even demand, a high level of flexibility in terms of working remotely and scheduling. Employees who welcomed the autonomy and security of being able to work from home aren’t going to willingly march back to the office. While I was uncertain how effective work-from-home arrangements would actually be, after reviewing the data objectively, I can’t argue with the increased productivity that has accompanied our remote work environment.

What’s Ahead?

A healthcare workforce shortage remains in both field personnel and corporate staff, while demand remains high; this situation has been compounded by the current Covid surge. Employees everywhere have become more accustomed to the flexibility and benefits a remote environment provides and they are no longer limited to accepting jobs in their communities. Attitudes are changing and companies now have more opportunities to hire outside of their local communities to obtain the best talent possible. Continuing to invest in partnerships, staff training and scholarships is essential to remain competitive. Of course, this is supported by Cross Country Healthcare’s competitive financial compensation.

At Cross Country Healthcare, we believe that if we take care of our people and our communities, the rest will follow. This mindset was a critical component that has helped us navigate through the pandemic. While I don’t have a crystal ball, I do know that the future holds both challenges and opportunities. By continuing to be forward thinkers, anticipating those challenges and being open to change, I believe that our future certainly looks bright.