Across the country, people working in health care during the pandemic have faced the toughest challenges that anyone has had to deal with. Physicians, caregivers, hospital and medical office staff — and the tens of thousands of people who support them and provide critical services for patients — have worked side-by-side through some of the most difficult days of the pandemic to care for one another, our patients, and our communities.
Every health care provider in the nation has been facing staffing shortages and fighting burnout. During the “great resignation” in 2021 to 22, more than 5 million people left their health care jobs across the country. Up to two-thirds of health care staff say they are burnt out and more than 1 in 5 are quitting.
Kaiser Permanente is not immune from these challenges, but we have faced them head-on, and through hard work, dedication, and creativity, we are creating a very different outcome.
When we saw so many people leaving health care, we began recruiting talented people to join our workforce and to relieve our dedicated, sometimes exhausted teams. Despite the acute shortage of health care workers, we have been able to hire more than 50,000 front-line employees in just the last 2 years. We hired 29,000 people in 2022, and another 22,000 so far this year. Included in this year’s new hires are more than 9,800 people hired into jobs represented by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.
Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition agreed while bargaining in April to work together to accelerate hiring, setting a joint goal of hiring 10,000 new people for Coalition-represented jobs by the end of 2023. Kaiser Permanente’s efforts are paying off: We expect to reach the 10,000 new hire goal by the end of October, if not sooner, and we won’t stop there. We are committed to addressing every area of staffing that is still challenging. We’ve also taken actions to streamline the screening, hiring, and onboarding process.
The people of Kaiser Permanente have faced down the pandemic better than most because we started from a different place: From excellent pay and benefits to tuition assistance and training, from team-based problem-solving and innovation to strong workplace safety programs, we have always invested in our people. We take care of our employees so they can care for our members, patients, and communities.
Kaiser Permanente is an employer of choice. More than 96% of external candidates accept a KP job when offered, which is 5.3% above the health care benchmark.
We lead in total compensation in every market where we operate. In some places, a Kaiser Permanente employee leaving for a similar job at another organization would face a 20%-or-higher pay cut and lower benefits.
Kaiser Permanente is consistently recognized as a best place to work, including being named as a Top Company to Grow a Career by LinkedIn. We offer employees opportunities to learn new skills and grow their careers, and we’re committed to providing a safe and equitable work environment. We’re also proud to be a welcoming and inclusive community where 70% of our employees represent racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities, leading DiversityInc to place us in their Top 50 Hall of Fame in each of the last 6 years.
We believe that all these are reasons why, once they join our teams, our people stay: On average, Coalition-represented employees stay at Kaiser Permanente nearly 11 years. In an industry with a turnover rate of over 21%, ours is now only 7%. Our dedicated people are staying on the job.
Beyond the aggressive work we are doing to hire people to join us, we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with our union partners to explore new and innovative ways to address staffing challenges. We are fortunate that our unique Labor Management Partnership creates a forum for us to do this together.
We are continuing to bargain with the Coalition to reach a new agreement that protects and improves all these great advantages of working at Kaiser Permanente. Our goal is to reach a fair and equitable agreement that strengthens our position as a best place to work and ensures that the high-quality care our members expect from us remains affordable and easy to access.
Negotiations continue in committees and small groups throughout the week, and the full bargaining committee will convene again in person on Friday, September 29.
Several Coalition unions have given notice for a strike in early October. Given the progress being made in national bargaining, there is no reason to strike. The best place to reach an agreement is at the bargaining table. We will ask our employees to reject any call to walk away from their jobs, their patients, and their colleagues.
While a strike threat is disappointing, it does not necessarily mean a strike will happen. We take any threat to disrupt care for our members seriously and have plans in place to ensure we can continue to provide high-quality care should a strike actually occur.