For hard-hit healthcare recruiters, a few solutions offer hope
The healthcare industry in America is facing an extraordinary staffing crisis. A 2021 Mercer study forecasts a shortage of nearly 450,000 home health aides and nearly 30,000 nurse practitioners. There will likely be continued shortages across the healthcare industry, a combined effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, already extant staff shortages and employee burnout.
Looking forward, Mercer predicts that healthcare jobs will grow at three times the rate of the general workforce. In a stable recruiting environment, it can take weeks or even months to find trained, qualified healthcare workers with the right education and experience. That challenge is compounded by the current shortages: right now, the average time to fill the position of a bedside RN is 54 days, according to Healthcare Source. And, as the Mercer report highlights, “the demand for healthcare support workers, technicians and other ‘downstream’ practitioners will grow the most and the fastest through 2025.” Recruiters will continue scrambling to fill positions.
Predicting future employer needs and patterns will require agility, creative problem-solving, and a significant amount of planning on the part of human resource managers. Healthcare recruiters need more support than ever as they adapt their strategies in this unprecedented environment. A successful recruiting strategy will incorporate three key elements, combining communication, data leverage and big-picture thinking to acquire — and retain — an exceptional workforce.
Clear, Compassionate Communication
After a year and more fraught with worries about their own health and safety while caring for others, healthcare workers are looking for reassurance from current and potential employers. Successful recruiting campaigns will address workers’ concerns about safety and will outline precautions that employers take to keep their workforce healthy. Communication should highlight positive patient care experiences, from both the patient and career perspective. With employers now competing for the best candidates, recruiters who are open and informative will attract applicants who may be tired of sorting through dozens of vague, uninformative job postings.
It may be tempting to cast a wide net, scooping up as many warm bodies as will apply to fill desperate shortages in HR, but hiring and training come with significant costs. That’s not a wise strategy, though. Recruiters who focus on long-term retention, rather than short-term acquisition, will find themselves better off in six months, or a year or five. Employee turnover, especially in the healthcare industry, can be enormously expensive, not to mention disruptive for patient care. Knowing your ideal candidate’s skills and profile will help recruiters develop strategies for hiring, as well as for training and continued employee enrichment.
A recruiter’s most powerful tool is their data. Modern recruiting methods can create laser-focused candidate profiles using segmented data. A hiring campaign can then take these profiles and break them down into even more targeted groups. This data-centric recruitment campaign, combined with messaging that is compassionate and clear, will attract the most qualified and talented pool of applicants.
In the most challenging recruitment climate in decades, human resource managers will need to get creative and agile. Using all the tools in your tool belt will ease the burden of finding, hiring, training, and keeping the best people to provide the best care for your patients.