Per Diem Staffing: The OG of Gig Economy
The terms Gig worker or Gig economy have become part of the media vernacular over the past five years. Basically, gig is referring to temporary or independent workers who are not hired by the organizations for which they work, just under contract for a short period of time. Hello, per diem nursing staffing model! The field of nursing has been using gig workers across the globe since Florence Nightingale brought nurses to Crimea to support the war. One could call her the O.G. (Original Gangster) of per diem staffing.
Flash forward to modern times where business models such as Fiverr and Uber comprise nearly 43% of all workers, and those numbers are only going up. As more workers seek a better balance between work and life as well as the flexibility of creating their own schedule and work assignments, projections of gig workers are expected to exceed 50% by 2025. This growing sect is made up of a wide variety of workers including those seeking additional part-time work to supplement their income as employers cut hours and recent college graduates who cannot find salaried positions in corporate America.
What does all of this mean for clinicians and healthcare overall? For staffing companies who provide per diem work to hospitals, one should expect a continued rise of qualified, experienced nurses and providers willing to work varied shifts to fit into their life, as opposed to their lives fitting around the corporate model of staffing. For hospitals and healthcare facilities, leaders must be able to “manage” freelancers and per diem staff in a way that ensures they are skilled and can provide excellent care while facilitating them as part of the team. Creating a positive and welcoming environment for per diem nurses will foster a standard where the excellent gig workers want to continue to contract work with those departments and leaders.
The rise of the gig worker in all industries also affects healthcare in the way of access to care for this group. More and more seasoned and highly skilled knowledge workers are leaving the corporate world for the flexibility of freelance work.
Hospitals and healthcare systems have been using gig workers outside of filling shifts in a unit for many years. With the formation and implementation of the electronic medical record (EMR) over the past 20 years, informatics nurses, software designers and project managers have been contracted to organizations to design the process from start to finish. There are also companies that provide temporary executives and physicians to systems needing short-term coverage of vital roles.
As the number of gig workers expands across the globe and industries, the opportunities for nurses and clinicians will continue to grow. Flexibility of shifts, locations and assignments has been a tremendous draw for per diem nurses for decades. Corporate America is just now catching on to this best-kept secret. However, the business of healthcare needs to be ready to provide the same flexibility to this population.
Author: Catherine Burger, RN, BS, MSOL, NEA-BC, RegisteredNursing.org