The Evolving Landscape of Healthcare Talent Acquisition
A labor shortage in the healthcare industry, from front desk workers and medical technicians to doctors and nurses, means that healthcare organizations are fiercely competitive in this new talent acquisition environment. Successful healthcare talent acquisition requires a strategic and comprehensive approach to ensure that the right employees are hired and retained.
There are many factors to consider when staffing a healthcare organization. The nature of the healthcare industry is unique in that it is both people-centric and highly regulated. This means finding the right mix of workers with the necessary skills, training, and experience is essential to providing quality care. In addition, the healthcare industry is rapidly changing, which means organizations need to allow flexibility and adapt to new technologies.
“Approach staffing thoughtfully and deliberately and not reactively. Because right now, it’s reactive, and partly because the pandemic pushed it that way,” says Colin LaBeau, President and CEO at employer-of-record platform FoxHire LLC.
Here are some ways healthcare organizations can successfully acquire and retain talent.
Understand Agency-Staff Conflicts
In the months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, hospitals and other healthcare organizations relied heavily on agency staffing to fill staff shortages, and that reliance is still increasing. According to the Avant Healthcare Professionals 2022 Trends in Nurse Staffing survey of hospital executives, 69% planned to rely on staffing agencies to fill their RN job openings this year, a significant increase from the less than 40% who planned to do so in 2021.
Reliance on agencies can create tension within the workplace if staff nurses discover agency nurses are being paid more and feel as if their work isn’t as highly valued, says Jamie Henry, Director of Operations and Health Services for FoxHire LLC.
The same conflict can occur when healthcare organizations pay new staff nurses substantially more compensation than a nurse who has put in years of service with the organization. This can create high levels of turnover and low morale.
“A lot of employers are trying to not use compensation as the method where the conversations should be around the ratios and safety, education reimbursement, you know, those things that have added value that aren’t necessarily tied to the salary,” Henry says.
Allow Flexible Schedules
Healthcare culture has changed, says Mara Shorr, Partner and Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Shorr Solutions, a consulting firm for medical practices. Whereas healthcare staff may have put up with being guilted into giving up their time off to care for patients as part of their organizational culture, now they are demanding the time off they are entitled to, as they should, she says.
Employees want more autonomy and the ability to shape their schedules in a way that meets their needs, in addition to their employer's. One of the things healthcare organizations can do to attract and retain employees is being more flexible with scheduling. In addition, many healthcare organizations are offering more flexible work-from-home arrangements to attract and retain talent.
Henry says healthcare organizations should embrace flexible staffing models because staffing needs can be fluid depending on the time of year. For example, flu season may require more staff to tend to sick patients than other times of the year. Being more creative in scheduling can help bring in great talent and retain those employees long-term.
Embrace New Technology
More remote and hybrid jobs exist because of telemedicine, especially regarding data entry and appointment scheduling for physician offices. Healthcare organizations are also adopting automated services to create more efficient operations, transforming how employees work in their facilities.
In order to stay competitive, healthcare organizations need to adapt to these new technologies, both in terms of the tools they use to find and hire workers, and the way work is performed in their facilities and remotely.
New technology may change the type of worker that healthcare facilities and practices seek in the future, says Shorr.
“There’s a lot of emphasis on technology to make processes more efficient,” she says. “We are lucky to see all of the new technologies coming out, especially in telemedicine. It’s one of the things that I’m most excited about in my job.”
Healthcare organizations that don't embrace new technology will find it difficult to keep up with the competition and may have trouble attracting and retaining top talent.
Adapt to the New Healthcare Landscape
Henry and Shorr say that the key to talent acquisition in this changing healthcare landscape is creating an excellent organizational culture and adapting to today’s workplace realities. adapting to new technology, and being open to new staffing models.
Organizations that can do these things successfully will be able to attract and retain the best employees in this competitive landscape:
- Understand and overcome agency-staff conflicts
- Allow flexibility in scheduling and offer remote work options
- Embrace new technology to increase efficiency and ease the strain on employees
“The way that talent has been acquired has completely changed, and employers need to keep up,” Shorr says. “If you don’t bend with change, you become broken.”