A nurse sits at his desk looking over bills with an expression of financial stress.

As providers continue to struggle with staffing shortages, a new survey by voluntary benefits program Purchasing Power uncovered particular benefits that employers can offer to boost employee recruitment and retention.

The researchers interviewed more than 500 medical professionals in the United States earning less than $100,000 annually. About 4 in 5 healthcare professionals indicated that benefits are just as important as salary, according to the study. This has led to about 35% of these workers seeking out jobs with better benefit packages in the last two years.

Benefits that support workers’ financial wellness, such as employee purchase programs and medical deductible financing, were the most desired. Some 31% of respondents indicated that these would increase their likelihood of remaining with an employer. Student loan repayment programs and legal resources also made the cut, with 27% and 24% of participants finding these appealing, respectively.

Workforce shortages have led to declining workplace satisfaction among nurses, contributing to growing employee burnout and turnover. At the same time, many caregivers’ wages remain low, with the median pay for direct care workers hovering around $13.50 per hour.

“Healthcare professionals are feeling enormous pressure not only from macro-economic conditions outside of their control, but also because of the experiences many of them have faced over the past few years,” said Purchasing Power CEO Trey Loughran in a statement sent to McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. “Most healthcare professionals are looking to their employer to help them with their financial wellness needs.”

According to the survey, 47% of healthcare workers report that they are unable to manage monthly expenses, and 48% have less than $1,000 in their savings. Still, 66% said that their employer takes “no active role” in improving their financial health. The researchers recommended offering benefits that can help employees ensure better control of their finances.

“When it comes to employee retention, valued benefits go a long way in keeping healthcare workers happy,” Purchasing Power said in a statement. “Employers cannot overlook the importance of providing both long-term and short-term benefits as part of their compensation package.”

As evidence, a survey in 2022 found that the majority of nurses are dissatisfied with their compensation. This problem, compounded by staffing challenges, has led to exhaustion and burnout among healthcare professionals, according to its findings.

“As more and more healthcare professionals continue to explore new opportunities, employers should continue to focus on creating total rewards strategies that foster employee confidence, retention, and belonging,” Loughran said.