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HRMT Essay: 7 Key Challenges For Attraction And Retainment Of Workforce In The Australian Healthcare Sector


Task: There are two choices (will be announced) for Essay 3 – for example, the ‘X’ sector, or the ‘Y’ sector.

You will write an essay on the key challenges in attracting and retaining a workforce in your selected sector.
Your essay will draw on at least five themes from Week 1 to Week 11 of this unit, being those most relevant to your selected industry sector.
Your essay will draw on the academic literature (including the articles from ‘Reviewing the Literature’ you developed for Assessment 2), and develop an argument applying that literature to your selected sector.
You must cite at least ten (10) relevant peer reviewed journal articles, and 3 chapters from the Nankervis et al. (2019) textbook. You can cite other academic references such as books, conference papers, and book chapters but these will NOT be counted as part of the 10 journal articles.


The main function of the healthcare sector is to provide services to patients, their families and community. Such an important function can never be achieved without reliable and qualified employees. However, the increased prevalence of employee turnover and internal issues makes the drawing and retention of the workforce a challenge. As the global situation progresses towards more complicated diseases and health challenges, the role of healthcare sectors becomes more significant. This calls for the identification of challenges for attracting and retaining the workforce in healthcare sectors (Roncarolo et al., 2017). Identification of the challenges will aid in solution development.

This article aims to identify the key challenges in attracting and retaining the workforce in the Australian context. Total seven challenges are discussed. The present scenario analysis in Australia will reflect the practical implications of challenges in the healthcare sector. Its comparison with other places will help in understanding whether the mentioned challenges are common or specific. The future directions aim to provide necessary actions as solutions.

Attraction and retention of the workforce in the healthcare sector
The main assets of healthcare sectors are its employees or workforce. The workforce of the healthcare domain holds the responsibility of giving patient care services, developing intervention strategies and health management. Healthcare sector has developed strong policies to attract a reliable and hardworking workforce. However, it faces competition with its contemporaries for attracting the best (Prust et al., 2019). The attraction of the workforce has been easier than retention. Retention is highly prioritised in the healthcare sectors. The attraction of the workforce has no value without its retention. Better job offers, employee policies of competitors and internal conflicts favour turnover. Challenges for attraction and retention of the workforce in healthcare sectors are existent in every part of the world. The only difference lies in the prevalence rate (Mbemba, Gagnon & Hamelin-Brabant, 2016).

Shortage of educated and skilled employees is existent mostly in the middle and low-income countries. This is very damaging from the health perspectives of the inhabitants in those countries (Belaid et al., 2017). The problem of shortage hardly acted as a barrier for attraction and recruitment in developed or wealthy countries. However, retention issues still exist (Turner, 2018). Professional programs are designed to increase health workers in non-urban and remote parts of Australia. Inhabitants in non-urban and remote parts of Australia have more health issues as compared to those living in urban areas. This directly points out the barriers of accessing health services owing to the problems of enlisting and retention of the employees in these locations (Onnis& Pryce, 2016).

Its importance in the healthcare sector in Australia
Australia has mixed healthcare policies encompassing private and public health systems. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports Australia to have good health status as compared to other countries with average life expectancy being 80 years. However, the increasing number of health challenges and stress of modern life have the potential to cause deterioration of health status. Moreover, the health status of the inhabitants in remote and rural areas, specifically Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is compromised. Recent data shows a deficiency of nurses and allied health professionals in Australia, particularly in its remote and rural areas. This restricts the accessibility of healthcare service in these areas. The deficiency or absence of sufficient workforce is likely to get damaging in the future owing to the retirement of aged professionals, aged population, increasing chronic diseases and damaging health behaviours in Australia (Morell et al., 2014). All these discussed health issues in Australia makes the attraction and holding of the workforce in the healthcare sectors very significant. The attraction of workforce will solve the burden of management of healthcare services with the insufficient workforce. Retention will possibly remove the "skill gaps" due to turnover or retirement to develop a sustainable workforce for management of chronic diseases and accessibility in remote and rural areas (Radford et al., 2018).

Its challenges in the healthcare sector in Australia
Attraction and retention of the employees in the healthcare sector is important everywhere including Australia. Given the rising pressure on the healthcare sector, the issues with attraction and retention need prompt solving. Several challenges act as barriers for attraction and keeping of the healthcare employees in Australia. These call for its identification and analysis.

Challenge 1: Establishing a strong employer brand
The healthcare sectors in Australia face no difficulty in attracting employees for vacant positions. However, skilled and picky individuals do not jump at the first employment opportunity. They search for employers with reliable employee policies which they can trust. Australia has many policies for employees in the healthcare sectors. The implementations of the policies and strategies need to occur at a greater scale. The human resource management (HRM) needs to uplift the reputation of the company within the potential employee pool. Building a strong employer brand needs representation and projection of the benefits of the organisation to the potential employees (Bailie et al., 2018). The employer branding needs to be unique as well to increase its chances for becoming top choices for workplaces of employees. The challenging issues of working in remote and rural areas cause employee shortage. This is a major problem for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for getting health services (Onnis& Pryce, 2016). Building a strong employer brand is a challenge due to internal conflicts among authorities, adapting with changing employee needs and costing hazards. However, the benefits of strong employer branding overcoming the difficulties should act as an encouragement. Enhancing employee benefits to improve employer brand can mitigate the problem.

Challenge 2: Competition with contemporary business rivals
The healthcare sector in Australia has been aware of the benefits of attraction and retention of the workforce for the healthcare system. They have developed strategies and policies that have the potential for drawing potential employees and retaining them. The HRM department keeps itself updated with the evolving job trends and aims to integrate its features in company policies. HRM policies go a long way for drawing and retaining the workforce. Moreover, technological advancements allow the healthcare sector to integrate the use of technological tools for widespread advertisement. This creates competition among contemporary healthcare companies to gain a higher number of stakeholders (Fouda, Fiorentini&Paolucci, 2017). Retention of the workforce is a challenge due to the availability of better job offers from competitors in the healthcare domain.

Challenge 3: Challenges of work design in a global environment
Dynamic trends of the global environment should be aligned with the work designs to address the needs of the workforce. The jobs of the healthcare sector change to adapt to employee requirements. This calls for designing jobs to adapt and operate in evolving global environments. The designing challenges exist at the recruitment, selection, training and development, performance management, determination of pay scale and workplace practice levels. The HRM professional analyses job processes to target its loopholes for its removal to make it adaptable with changing demands of stakeholders. The emerging health issues in Australia are also considered (Potter et al., 2019). Alignment of job demands of the employees with competency criteria required by the organisation is a challenging aspect. The HRM professionals of the healthcare sector perform a thorough analysis of job analysis during recruitment. The increasing workload of the healthcare sector may serve as a challenge for retention and can lead to increased turnover. This imposes a challenging aspect for the HRM to design work practices for maintenance of the work-life balance of employees without affecting the productivity of the healthcare company (Nankervis et al., 2019).

More than 40% of the healthcare workers are reported to have excessive workload with 18% of them are reported to work more than 48 hours a week. This imposes work-related psychological hazards on healthcare workers in Australia. The HRM of the healthcare sector is exposed to the difficulty of continuously upgrading work policies aligned with market demands, the productivity of the organisation and employee well-being (Potter et al., 2019).

Challenge 4: Performance management
Management of performance is very significant. This can be aligned and optimised for the keeping of the workforce in the Australian healthcare domain. Performance management points out the flaws in the performance of the workforce. The daily up-gradation of the professional performance of the workforce provides improvement opportunities. This leads to job satisfaction and can cause retention of employees. However, the old performance management practices in healthcare sectors fail to meet the needs of the workforce without disturbing the organisation productivity (Nankervis et al., 2019). This poses a challenge for the healthcare domain in Australia to retain its workforce.

The performance of healthcare professionals including general practitioners and nurses in the healthcare sectors is essential to cater to the needs of patients, especially those with chronic diseases. The government healthcare homes in Australia implemented models with practice guidelines for healthcare professionals. The model serves as an opportunity for performance optimization. It addresses medical dominance and knowledge gaps that stand as a barrier for performance management. The healthcare model tracks the performance of healthcare professionals to strengthen the service of the primary healthcare system (McKittrick& McKenzie, 2018). However, upgrading of the model is yet to be done. The lack of proper performance management practices in Australia is a definite challenge.

Challenge 5: Management of work health and safety
Employees always pay attention to safe and healthy workplace environments. This addresses the measures adopted by the HRM. Maintaining a healthy and safe work environment involves policies to care for the accidents in the workplace, diseases and other injuries of the employees. An effective health policy for the work health and safety of the workforce can act as a great tool for attracting potential employees. Its implementation imposes its effect on retention issues in healthcare sectors in Australia. The challenging aspect for the HRM is to provide health compensation systems and designing workplace guidelines adapted with dynamic environments. Failure of proper implementation of health work policy can promote turnover of experienced professionals and avoidance of healthcare sectors by potential employees (Nankervis et al., 2019). Recent data shows the planning of the policies regarding health and safe work environments occur without any or minimum communication with healthcare professionals. In most cases, healthcare professionals feel their main priorities regarding organisational compensation packages and health policies are left out when practically implemented. This increases healthcare costs in the long run due to turnover and imposition of legal obligations (Javanparast et al., 2018).

Challenge 6: Negotiation processes
The negotiation processes in the healthcare sector mostly arise due to competition among employees, cultural differences and conflict among supervisors and subordinates. The resulting conflict has several negative consequences like lack of cooperation during teamwork, increased unhealthy competition, the deteriorating relationship between supervisors and subordinates and reduction of the organisational productivity. The positive consequences do exist like bringing out the best decisions from the conflict. However, the negative effects overcome the positive ones. The challenging aspect of the healthcare sector is to develop proper workplace practices aiming to resolve conflict issues and promote healthy workplace relationships (Nankervis et al., 2019).

In major cases, the cause of conflict with supervisors is the lack of proper safety policies or its implementation in healthcare organisations. Healthcare sectors comprise 13% of total employment in Australia. Such a high number needs proper measures to resolve conflicts to attract and retain the workforce (Pillay, Enya&Boateng, 2019).

Challenge 7: Planning in human resource
According to Nankervis et al., 2019, human resource planning is the solution between the gap of human resource strategies and human resource benefits. The changing environments impose challenges to consider multiple issues during human resource planning. Human resource planning is a significant part of the healthcare sectors in Australia. It provides guidelines for placing the right people at the right job with proper employee packages. The conventional models of the planning in the Australian healthcare sector fail to take account of the changing requirements. When it fails to take the measure of the changing environmental requirements, the workforce feels unsatisfied with job conditions. This poses a challenge for the drawing and keeping workforce in the Australian healthcare segment (Nankervis et al., 2019).

Effective human resource planning is crucial for employee engagement in the Australian healthcare domain. The governance of clinician engagement fails to adopt the wide-scale methodology for frontline workers in the healthcare system. It overlooks the practice guidelines with the possibility to promote employee engagement. Attractive pay packages, provision of holidays and job rewards are absent in many Australian healthcare companies (Lock, 2019). Human resource planning can be used for increased workforce satisfaction and work engagement.

The present scenario in the healthcare domain in Australia
The healthcare domain of Australia presently faces a shortage of healthcare professionals like nurses and specialised doctors. The reason when traced back reflects on the internal conflicts, disagreements regarding pay packages and loss of work-life balance due to increased workload. These are the common challenges in the Australian healthcare field for drawing and retaining the employees. Negative impacts are evidenced by the inability to manage increased obesity and asthma cases and promote healthcare accessibility of indigenous Australians (Macri, 2016).

Comparison with other places in the world
Problems are existent in the healthcare field of the world. The challenges faced by the Australian healthcare domain and the healthcare domain from other places of the world are mostly the same for attracting and retaining the workforce. This refers to no role of the specific location, but emerging issues and internal HRM policies of the healthcare organisations as the barriers. This includes entry of new competitors, lack of care delivery models, absence of investment for use of technology and employment policies and complex internal conflicts (Güne?, Melo& Nickel, 2019).

Future directions
The future directions are necessary after the analysis and discussion of healthcare sector challenges. These address the loopholes which when solved and implemented have the potential to mitigate problems causing attraction and retention of the employees in healthcare sectors in Australia. It involves a wide-scale survey of problems faced by employees in the healthcare domains. The survey guided by research-oriented methods will reveal the practical difficulties exposed to the healthcare workforce in Australia. This will guide in up-gradation of HRM policies and workplace practices. Initiatives are required to alter workplace practices regarding the psychosocial health of the workforce. This will attract the younger generation to work in healthcare sectors along with the retention of mature experienced professionals (Trezona, Fitzsimon& Dodson, 2019).

The present-day scenario in the healthcare sector is exposed to the challenges of attracting and retaining the workforce. Australia, like other countries of the world, faces similar challenges. The Australian health status is reported to be in good shape by WHO. However, the rising disease cases and health challenges of recent times require prompt service of the healthcare sector. The problems of accessibility of healthcare services in remote and non-urban areas of Australia and negative health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need proper identification of the challenges. Seven challenges are discussed in the article. These include competition due to the presence of contemporary rivals, development of strong employer brands, compatible work design in changing environments, performance management and work health and safety practices. Negotiation processes leading to conflict reduces the productivity of the organisation and can promote retention issues. Human resource planning is also a significant challenge. The other parts of the world show similar challenges for retention and attraction of employees. Future actions are necessary to guide the required steps. The challenges need prompt addressing and resolution for developing a sustainable workforce in the Australian healthcare sector. ?

Reference list
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Belaid, L., Dagenais, C., Moha, M., &Ridde, V. (2017).Understanding the factors affecting the attraction and retention of health professionals in rural and remote areas: a mixed-method study in Niger.Human resources for health, 15(1), 60. []

Fouda, A., Fiorentini, G., &Paolucci, F. (2017). Competitive health markets and risk equalisation in Australia: Lessons learnt from other countries. Applied health economics and health policy, 15(6), 745-754. []

Güne?, E. D., Melo, T., & Nickel, S. (2019).Location problems in healthcare.In Location science (pp. 657-686).Springer, Cham. []

Javanparast, S., Maddern, J., Baum, F., Freeman, T., Lawless, A., Labonté, R., & Sanders, D. (2018). Change management in an environment of ongoing primary health care system reform: A case study of Australian primary health care services. The International journal of health planning and management, 33(1), e76-e88. [doi: 10.1002/hpm.2413] Lock, M. J. (2019). Valuing Frontline Clinician Voice in Healthcare Governance. A critique of governance and policy documents that frame clinician engagement in the New South Wales healthcare system. Report to the Clinical Governance Unit, Mid North Coast Local Health District.Committix Pty, Ltd, Newcastle. []

Macri, J. (2016). Australia's health system: some issues and challenges. Journal of Health & Medical Economics, 2(2). []

Mbemba, G. I. C., Gagnon, M. P., & Hamelin-Brabant, L. (2016). Factors influencing recruitment and retention of healthcare workers in rural and remote areas in developed and developing countries: an overview. Journal of public health in Africa, 7(2). []

McKittrick, R., & McKenzie, R. (2018). A narrative review and synthesis to inform health workforce preparation for the Health Care Homes model in primary healthcare in Australia. Australian journal of primary health, 24(4), 317-329. []

Morell, A. L., Kiem, S., Millsteed, M. A., &Pollice, A. (2014). Attraction, recruitment and distribution of health professionals in rural and remote Australia: early results of the Rural Health Professionals Program. Human resources for health, 12(1), 15. []

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Pillay, M., Enya, A., &Boateng, E. B. (2019). High-reliability organisations and collective mindfulness for improving healthcare safety management: a scoping review protocol of factors, measures, and instruments.

International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Safety, 3(2), 8-13. []

Potter, R., O'Keeffe, V., Leka, S., Webber, M., & Dollard, M. (2019).Analytical review of the Australian policy context for work-related psychological health and psychosocial risks.Safety science, 111, 37-48. [DOI: 10.1016/j.ssci.2018.09.012]

Prust, M. L., Kamanga, A., Ngosa, L., McKay, C., Muzongwe, C. M., Mukubani, M. T., ...&Wilmink, N. (2019). Assessment of interventions to attract and retain health workers in rural Zambia: a discrete choice experiment. Human resources for health, 17(1), 26. []

Radford, K., Chapman, G., Bainbridge, H. T., &Halvorsen, B. (2018). The ageing population in Australia: Implications for the workforce. In Work and Identity (pp. 39-54). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. []

Roncarolo, F., Boivin, A., Denis, J. L., Hébert, R., &Lehoux, P. (2017). What do we know about the needs and challenges of health systems? A scoping review of the international literature.BMC health services research, 17(1), 636. []

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