Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, furloughs and layoffs have been a concern for nurses and healthcare executives alike. Tipton Health Communication’s May 19 Nursing Leadership Webinar featured Nikki Sumpter, senior vice president and chief human resources officer of Atlantic Health System, an experienced HR executive.

In the first of our three-part blog series focused on furloughs and layoffs, Nikki shares her top three strategies for avoiding furloughs altogether and keeping your team members supported and engaged.

Before you choose to furlough members of your staff, first ask yourself, “why would we furlough a nurse?” There has been a shortage of skilled nurses for decades. For reference, before COVID-19, the Bureau of Labor Statistics cited there would be a gap of 20,000 nurses just in the New Jersey market, where Atlantic Health System is based. It’s likely the gap will only grow, so it’s time to get creative with maintaining the nursing workforce that is so vital to our care delivery systems.

  • Upskill and Retool: Take this time to train your nurses to provide care in a variety of settings. This not only helps support their professional growth but also helps your nursing teams become more agile. It’s critical to consider that there will always be retirees, even in a pandemic. Create programs to aid nurses in a smooth transition of knowledge as they move toward retirement. Retiring nurses can add value to their profession and organization in many ways, such as by delivering virtual education or precepting.
  • Offer Redeployment: As focus moved away from perioperative and ambulatory settings during COVID-19, the staff in these areas had few options for work within their specialty. Allowing them to move to vacancies within the organization can help keep them employed. Don’t let go of your most precious resources.
  • Don’t Contribute to Unemployment in Your Community: Nurses have the ability to adapt to several different roles, not just the specialty they were trained in. Offer opportunities in finance, recruitment, patient access or any job where they can still deliver and provide service to your organization.


Learn More From Our Executive Consultants

You can learn more strategies presented in the webinar, Managing Nurse Expectations and Engagement During Layoffs or Furloughs, by visiting

Be sure to join us for our upcoming June sessions, Employee Communications Essentials in the “New Normal” Hospital Environment and How Nurse Autonomy Helped Hospitals Manage the Crisis (and Will Help Build the New Normal). Click here to learn more or register.