Referring nursing staff via online platforms: Impact on the labour market

Digital platforms are being used to source temporary staff in the nursing sector too. What impact does this have on the quality of nursing and on employee satisfaction?

An interdisciplinary project is investigating how the referral of temporary nursing personnel on digital platforms affects the labour market. It also examines the ramifications of this form of employment for temporary and permanent staff.

Petra Klumb. Your project addresses the phenomenon of crowdworking. What is that?

Crowdworking refers to a form of work where an enterprise integrates people from outside the organisation into the work process. They rely on a “crowd” offering a potential pool of skills and know-how. It all started with a crowd made up of clickworkers, i.e. internet users who took on small assignments on a freelance basis. Translation work is also frequently farmed out like this.

The challenge here is bringing together tasks and skills as well as availabilities.

Digital platforms are ideal for this. Companies post their projects, and employees their skills and availabilities. An algorithm checks for fits.

So you are not only investigating work in the digital space but in the nursing sector too. Does that function the same way?

Generally, yes. The differences are that nursing work is done in situ, is highly specialised and highly interdependent. It is carried out in a team, and mistakes can have serious consequences.

Is crowdworking widespread in the nursing sector?

Internal hospital pools have been in place for quite some time now. While external referral platforms are still a marginal phenomenon number-wise, they are witnessing strong growth.

The project unites three disciplines.

Florian Liberatore's team from the School of Management and Law at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) is examining employment law issues and the consequences of this form of work for the labour market: does it offset bottlenecks, for instance? Michael Simon and his research group at the University of Basel's Institute of Nursing Science are investigating the effects on the quality of nursing. And my group is looking at the perspective of the individual nursing professionals. For instance: how they see their work, and where they identify advantages and disadvantages of the respective arrangement?

Is the quality of care improving because the workforce being deployed is fresher? Or is it decreasing because these people have less experience?

This is one of the questions we hope to answer with the project. We need to be open to both outcomes. Our subproject consists of several studies. An online survey of current temporary staff, former temporary staff and permanent employees. And then snapshots of the day-to-day work of individuals as well as entire teams. What are the advantages and disadvantages of crowdworking in terms of the work and people’s options for structuring their own lives? Are the promises made being kept? For example, when it comes to balancing job, family and leisure time. To date, that has never been examined in such a random sample of highly qualified, homogeneous subjects.

Respondents for online survey wanted

The research team has contacts with current temporary nursing staff and former temporary staff. We are still looking for permanent employees who are prepared to provide us with information.

Link to online questionnaireExternal Link Icon


Petra Klumb investigates what effects the placement of nursing professionals via digital platforms has on job seekers and the job market as a whole. Quelle: universitas