PwC Survey Finds 50% of Companies Plan Layoffs and 83% Intend to Move Forward with Streamlined Workforces
Amid cost pressures, healthcare providers also plan to cut staff though some jobs are plentiful; adequate staffing at medical laboratories continues to be a challenge
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent “Great Resignation,” masses of people have left the workforce and companies large and small in all industries are struggling to retain employees. Clinical laboratories have been particularly hard hit with no relief in sight.
Now comes the results of a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey which shows 50% of US companies in various industries—including major healthcare providers—plan to lay off employees. And 83% of organizations intend to move forward with a “streamlined workforce,” according to the latest PwC Pulse: Managing Business Risks in 2022 report.
How this will affect the workload on remaining hospital and medical laboratory staff is clear. And healthcare consumers may not take well to healthcare provides running leaner and with fewer staff than they currently do.
Nevertheless, the PwC survey results “illustrate the contradictory nature of today’s labor market, where skilled workers can still largely name their terms amid talent shortages even as companies look to let people go elsewhere,” Bloomberg wrote on the CPA Practice Advisor website.
“Organizations are still walking a tightrope when it comes to talent as we begin to see the longer-term impacts of the ‘Great Resignation.’ Finding the proper balance between investing in specialized talent, managing headcount costs, and driving productivity and morale will remain a top focus,” said Bhushan Sethi (above), People and Organization Joint Global Leader at PwC and an adjunct professor at NYU Stern School of Business in a PwC news release. Clinical laboratories are finding it particularly challenging to fill staff positions across all areas of lab operations. (Photo copyright: PwC.)
Healthcare Has Biggest Challenges, says PwC
Clinical laboratory leaders and pathologist groups are well aware of the unique financial pressures on healthcare systems and medical labs, as well as shortages of pathologists, medical technologists, clinical laboratory scientists, information technology (IT) professionals, and other healthcare workers.
“Healthcare is seeing bigger talent challenges than other industries and is more focused on rehiring employees who have recently left,” the PwC report acknowledged. This is the second Pulse survey PwC conducted in 2022. The 722 respondents included leaders working in human capital and finance.
Finding Right Talent, Focusing on Growth, Automation
Finding the right employees is so important to companies that PwC ranks “talent acquisition” as the second highest risk (38%) behind cyber-attacks (40%).
“Finding the right talent continues to be a challenge for business leaders,” PwC said. “After a frenzy of hiring and a tight labor market over the past few years, executives see the distinction between having people and having people with the right skills.”
Unlike the high-touch and personal nature of healthcare, industries such as consumer technology, media, and telecommunications can turn to automation to alleviate staffing struggles. And that is what nearly two-thirds, or 63%, of companies in those sectors, aim to do, PwC said.
Other survey talent findings:
- 50% of companies plan layoffs.
- 46% are dropping or eliminating sign-on bonuses.
- 44% are rescinding job offers.
Conversely, the surveyed executives also told PwC they are “cautiously optimistic” and plan on growing and investing even as the economy gives mixed signals:
- 83% of companies are focused on growth.
- 70% plan an acquisition.
- 53% aim to invest in digital transformation, 52% in IT, 49% in cybersecurity and privacy, and 48% in customer experience.
“After more than two years dealing with uncertainty related to the pandemic, business leaders recognize the urgent need to focus on growth in order to compete, and they’re zeroing in on what they can control,” PwC said.
New Remote Work Programs, Reduction in Real Estate Investing, Big Tech
Although companies report having more than enough physical office space, many (42%) have launched remote work programs:
- 70% have expanded or plan to increase “permanent” remote work options as jobs permit.
- 22% are reducing real estate investment (financial services and healthcare industries lead the way with 30% and 29%, respectively, saying real estate buys are cooling off).
“While companies continue to invest in many areas of the business, they’re scaling back the most in real estate and capex ex [capital expenditure]. After two years of remote work, many companies simply need less space, and they’re allocating capital accordingly,” the PwC report noted.
In a somewhat parallel release to PwC’s findings, news sources are reporting reductions in real estate and staff at high-profile Big Tech companies.
Business Insider reported, “More than 32,000 tech workers have been laid off in the US till July, including at Big Tech companies like Microsoft and Meta (formerly Facebook), and the worst has not been over yet for the tech sector that has seen massive stock sell-off.”
According to Forbes, “San Francisco-based electronic signature company DocuSign will lay off 9% of its more than 7,400 employees (roughly 670 employees), the company announced in a Securities and Exchange filing Wednesday, saying the cuts are ‘necessary to ensure we are capitalizing on our long-term opportunity and setting up the company for future success.’”
Healthcare Providers Plan Layoffs, Seek IT Pros
Meanwhile, major healthcare provider networks also are planning staff cuts amid service closures, rising costs, and other issues, according to Becker’s Hospital Review:
- Ascension in St. Louis, Mo., plans to close an Indiana hospital and nine medical practices and lay off 133 employees.
- St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, plans to lay off 978 employees affected by cuts in healthcare services, and BHSH system (formed through a merger in February between Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health systems in Grand Rapids, Mich.) is cutting 400 jobs, Becker’s reported.
“Our health system, like others around the nation, is facing significant financial pressures from historic inflation, rising pharmaceutical and labor costs, COVID-19, expiration of CARES Act funding, and reimbursement not proportional with expenses,” BHSH said in a statement shared with Becker’s.
Amidst these layoffs, however, IT jobs in healthcare seem to be growing. According to Becker’s Health IT, some healthcare providers have posted information technology openings:
- Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., has 43 IT job openings.
- Northwell Health, New York: 74
- CommonSpirit Health, Chicago: 71
- Providence Health Care, Renton, Wash.: 60
So, though it appears IT positions continue to expand, clinical laboratory leaders and pathology practice managers may want to prepare now for dealing with customers’ response to leaner healthcare systems overall.
—Donna Marie Pocius