Quickly Recruiting and Onboarding Retired Healthcare Workers Without Compromising Safety

Marketing Specialist

Healthcare organizations around the world face a growing pandemic, and with it, the need to quickly staff for a surge of critically ill patients. 

With high turnover and staffing shortages, healthcare recruitment can be challenging in the best of times, but now countries face the critical need to quickly bring thousands more healthcare workers into their health system.

The NHS Nightingale Hospital in London alone needs to recruit 20,000 healthcare workers who can provide intensive care to critically ill COVID-19 patients. Recruiting healthcare workers out of retirement has been a primary strategy for organizations needing to fill such critical gaps in their workforce.

But convincing retirees, often among the demographic most vulnerable to COVID-19, to come out of retirement in large numbers is no easy task. “Healthcare recruitment tends to be transactional,” says Steven Lewis, Global President for RoboRecruiter. For these efforts to succeed, though, recruiters can’t rely on a transactional approach. “These people are being called to serve,” he says. 

Here’s how healthcare organizations can quickly and safely recruit healthcare workers to join the front lines of the Coronavirus crisis.

Identify Potential Candidate Pools

While most healthcare organizations don’t need to recruit workers on the same scale as the Nightingale Hospital, many healthcare organizations do need to hire additional workers to help deal with the influx of COVID-19 patients. And it’s not just the frontline workers such as doctors and nurses that healthcare organizations need, says Jason Guggisberg, Vice President and Head of Adecco Medical and Science. Many other support staff roles need filling as well, he says.

“Identifying who’s available and interested is the first step,” Lewis says. Using automated SMS tools that capture real-time PALS (position, availability, location, salary, skills)  and reactivating pools of past applicants can help spread up the process, he says.

You can also look at retention data and identify those who have recently retired, Lewis suggests. “People are engaging retired workers to fill the roles that we need,” Guggisberg says. Reach out to these “alumni,” past employees and retired workers of hospital systems, Guggisberg says.

Use ads and social media that encourage people to text a number to start the process, Lewis says. Facebook can be a good way to recruit retired workers.

Speed Up Pre-Screening and Assessment Through Automation

Automating the pre-screening and assessment process can help speed up the recruitment process while ensuring that candidates can move quickly into the front lines. Using recruitment tools that employ AI, machine learning and automated forms of communication such as texting allows healthcare organizations to efficiently recruit workers on the scale they need.

Asking simple yes/no questions to help candidates self-screen, such as whether they are currently licensed and whether they are available to work in a specific location or can start by a specific data can help quickly move the right candidates along the recruitment process, Lewis says. “Using automation to prescreen candidates lets recruiters spend their time vetting the most qualified candidates,” he says.

Automating the scheduling of interviews through a platform with a built-in scheduler or tools like Calendly also lets you establish a time for a virtual or phone interview efficiently, he says. But it’s important to process applicants in an engaging way. “Keep them engaged throughout the process,” Lewis says. Retired healthcare workers and others looking to join the frontline COVID-19 efforts are motivated by a desire to help others. Reflecting that empathy and focus on service in your interactions with them is critical. 

Streamline Onboarding

Some aspects of onboarding can be automated, as well. If you are recruiting retired workers, they are more vulnerable to COVID-19, Guggisberg points out. “Retirees are looking to come back because they want to help,” he says. “It’s a humanitarian instinct.”

The most important thing healthcare organizations can do is create a controlled and safe environment for the workers. “I believe that they will feel more comfortable coming to work in that environment,” Guggisberg says.

Some typical aspects of onboarding for healthcare workers — such as the ability to perform drug testing or state licensing requirements —  may be difficult to do or have undergone changes during the crisis. “We are seeing a blurring of the lines of licensing requirements for states,” Guggisberg says. Healthcare providers would not normally be able to practice across state lines, but many states have loosened those regulations. For healthcare organizations navigating these changes, Guggisberg recommends staying up to date on licensing in their state but creating as much flexibility within those guidelines as they can to meet the needs of patients. 

Healthcare organizations face a crisis of immense proportion in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers across the care spectrum are putting their own health at risk to treat critically ill patients, and retired workers are no exception. Healthcare organizations can use the tools available to them to quickly and efficiently get those workers back on the frontline to help provide the care we need in this time of crisis

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