“We are constantly evaluating our compensation and benefits programs to ensure they reflect the needs of team members, their contributions and changes in our markets. Investing in salaries and innovative benefits is essential to attract and retain top talent and help our patients and health plan members. deserve,” Becky Sawyer, Sentara executive vice president and chief human resources officer, said in a press release.
In May 2021, the company raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour, eight months earlier than originally planned. At the time, Sawyer said the move was meant to help attract and retain workers. The company said that in 2021 Sentara invested $185 million to increase employee pay through allowances, benefits and thank you gifts.
Sentara is one of many health care systems across the country turning to higher wages, expanded benefits and other incentives to attract and retain workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated an existing medical workforce shortage. For example, Advocate Aurora in Illinois just awarded bonuses of up to $1,500 to 60,000 employees.
The health sector added about 18,000 jobs in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.