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How Healthcare Can Survive the Next Five Years of Talent Shortage

Written By
Emily Friedrichs
Associate Editor

Currently one in every five job openings in the US is in healthcare. But over the next decade, half of the jobs projected for fastest growth are in healthcare, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What is amassing on the horizon is a perfect storm: the confluence of increasing demand, as one quarter of today’s workforce will be over age 55, with the mass retirement of Baby Boomers, including one-third of active physicians, as cited by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). Talent shortages in the healthcare sector have made it untenable for employers to not invest in HR, but amid intense competition and burnout, how do you attract and develop talent? How do you grow leaders?

Facing fiercer competition and more technology options than ever, healthcare organizations are looking to decode which tools and practices will help them find, attract and retain talent for critical roles. Drawing from our experience working with healthcare providers over the past 15 years, here is what is currently happening in Human Capital Management for healthcare and what our partners are doing to prepare for the future.

Building the Healthcare Talent Pipeline Earlier Than Ever

In addition to building institutional relationships with medical schools, nursing programs and technical programs, competitive healthcare organizations are targeting students using recruitment marketing during their early years of training. This might mean establishing contact with first-year physical therapy students, for example, and then developing that relationship over the next two or three years of training. When those students are finally qualified to enter the workforce, that organization is top of mind.

Such early-stage engagement is where digital tools have the most potential to disrupt the status quo in healthcare recruiting.

Consider the contrast from the perspective of a student or new healthcare professional attending a job fair. At one booth, they’re asked to leave a paper resume or complete contact information by hand. At the next, they provide their contact info in seconds via an iPad or QR code, and then spend the rest of their time engaging in conversation with a recruiter. This is then followed up with regular communications: tips for navigating credentialing, opportunities to shadow or intern, newsletters that share organizational culture and promote employer brand, meetups and an invitation to a student talent community. All of these activities are being administered by talent acquisition team members who have data within their CRM to track the ROI of all their recruiting events, from campus job fairs to participation at conventions, seminars, and medical association events.

Tailoring the Candidate Experience to Healthcare Professionals

Modern technology is also helping HR to meet the evolving expectations of the healthcare workforce. For skilled medical professionals, this means minimizing drop-off by being able to start an application process but complete the details at later stages. For supporting roles, this means making it easier to apply and providing personalized responses.

Another best practice is offering time-strapped candidates who are on-the-go and in front of patients the flexibility to participate in screening or interviewing via recorded video. During the interview process, candidates expect streamlined and flawless coordination with hiring managers, which can only be achieved by talent acquisition teams that offer excellent service delivery to any involved managers. Once candidates have signed on, they expect a similarly seamless experience during new hire onboarding, aided by form and document integration within your Applicant Tracking System. High-drop off rates and negative reputations follow recruiting teams who fail to deliver in these areas.

Targeting Healthcare Talent with Precise Messaging

Whether it means an employer with a shared definition of social responsibility, the right opportunities for growth and development, or a workplace culture aligned with their own, disruptive healthcare HR teams are attracting the right talent by matching what their organization can offer to candidates who seek exactly that environment. With the right tools, these teams are developing messaging that precisely targets and attracts their most sought-after healthcare talent and finds them wherever they may be, from employee referrals programs to Facebook to Sermo and Doximitity.

Disruptive Talent Management Strategies

The importance of knowing your talent extends to current employees. Social relationship tools are moving from recruiting to interactions with existing talent. The best healthcare organizations are creating HR tech landscapes that easily integrate data across systems, in order to truly understand and connect with their employee population.

This is enabling organizations to overcome the age-old problem of ignoring their internal talent. Traditionally, silos have existed between different departments within a large healthcare organization due to a lack of communication and the use of separate systems to track employee information. This creates barriers when healthcare talent wants to make a move, such as from pediatric to obstetrics nursing. If employees cannot easily learn about internal opportunities, they will look to other organizations when seeking a change in role.

Top internal mobility programs curb talent drain by helping organizations to identify which employees are at risk of leaving, whether it be for professional growth or related to burnout. By better understanding their workforce—what training they have, whether they are willing to relocate or looking to change specialty, and how they are performing—organizations can inform employees when opportunities become available for internal hires rather than losing those employes.

Evolving Performance Management Processes

Performance management systems are also facing upheaval. The old days of an annual performance review is fading. Millennials in particular feel this timeframe doesn’t offer them the professional development they seek.

The best performance management processes are about continuous, ongoing coaching that seeks to provide feedback from multiple directions. Technology tools now allow employees to do self-analysis and solicit or receive coaching on mobile devices. Automated reminders can let managers know when a check-in is requested or due.

Frequent conversations about employee performance and engagement also help to tackle turnover. Maybe a nursing aide is getting certified as a yoga teacher and could offer classes to patients that would increase their well-being as well as his engagement on the job. These scheduled conversations are also a way to know whether your talent is approaching burnout. Maybe you’d rather offer a pulmonologist with decades of experience a sabbatical than lose her to early retirement, or an x-ray technician who is a new dad the option of going part-time.

Reaching the Contingent Workforce in Healthcare

Contingent workers have also become a crucial component of how many medical organizations deliver healthcare. It’s due, in part, to the increasing demand for care, but also because some healthcare workers are looking for more flexibility. Leading healthcare organizations are leveraging Contingent Workforce Management tools to optimize the experience for both permanent and contingent hires. One way to achieve a great candidate experience for all is to make onboarding smoother by organizing and digitizing requests for credentials, background checks, and communicable disease and JCAHO compliance.

Competition from Non-Healthcare Organizations

Traditional healthcare providers are up against myriad competitors, beginning with sector peers that offer modern benefits such as letting their people work remotely, and not just office staff, but psychologists or speech therapists. Non-traditional competitors, such as startups, compete for administrative staff, and minimum wage increases and improved working conditions in sectors like retail mean they are now vying for your support staff, including nursing or home aids, food workers and janitors.

2025 and Beyond: Future Healthcare Recruiting Solutions

The delivery of healthcare is constantly and rapidly changing, and the right HCM software is a differentiator in the competition for top healthcare talent. Embracing digital disruption not only enables organizations to stay ahead of the talent competition within and outside of healthcare, but also gives them new ways to connect with candidates and employees. Is your organization providing the best possible care because it understands its talent and can optimize the workplace for its employees?

With the talent shortage expected to reach greater intensity over the next five years, is your organization prepared?

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