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The Squeeze, Vol. 15: Knock, Knock

The Squeeze, Vol. 15: Knock, Knock.

All is fair in love and war.

What’s going on?
The healthcare industry is at war for talent, and organizations are taking unconventional approaches to position themselves as employers of choice to today’s dynamic workforce.

Staffing is top of mind for every healthcare organization right now, and SPM Group too, as recruitment has become a major marketing priority for many clients. For most, signing bonuses and contract labor aren’t enough nor financially sustainable, so let’s dive into some of the other strategies and tactics we’re seeing trending in recruitment right now. It’s a lot to digest and requires new ways of thinking, so we’re bringing it back to basics with the [almost all] 5 W’s and H: WHAT: Gone are the days of competitive compensation being enough to recruit top talent. Job seekers expect more from their prospective employers.
  • Employers need to talk with candidates about the full range of financial and non-financial reasons to work at their organization. Employee motivations have changed, and companies with a strong purpose and culture offering greater flexibility and work-life balance are most attractive.
  • Thoughtful, decisive hiring operations in itself can be a differentiator for winning new talent. People are rejecting jobs based on the quality of the recruitment process, with Forbes finding that the top three triggers are: 1) lack of/delayed communication, 2) little transparency in selection criteria, and 3) time taken for interviews. Incredible Health (a job matching platform for nurse vacancies) reports that 61% of their nurses are accepting the very first offer they receive, even if the next subsequent offers have higher pay. Candidates are looking to move fast and expect hiring processes to match their pace.
WHEN: Employers don’t have the luxury of time during a staffing crisis but blocking and tackling while ignoring brand for too long will only exacerbate their retention problems.
  • Now more than ever, organizations’ retention strategies are an essential part of their recruitment strategies. Ideally employers should work from the inside out, prioritizing company culture, staff morale and engagement, because recruits are investigating how employees feel about working there and are asking questions about what the employer does to support them.
  • Many healthcare organizations are investing in the development or refreshment of their Employer Value Proposition to reflect the healthcare workforce’s changing priorities. The EVP is a promise to a prospective employee and one that is crucial to deliver on, because a mismatch between new hire expectations and their lived experience can contribute to costly early turnover.
HOW: Employers are throwing out the old way of doing things to be more meaningful to the audience of today.
  • Health systems are centralizing their Talent Acquisition teams to work together versus fight against each other for the same talent. Not only does this support their employer brand but unlocks opportunities for more specialized recruiting and multi-location positions, which are becoming increasingly popular.
  • HR teams are job shadowing and talking with employees to update job descriptions and ensure they’re providing realistic job previews so that positions aren’t oversold to applicants. They also are following up with new hires to verify that their first few months on the job are what they expected.
  • Some are changing the narrative, using empathy and storytelling to connect with employees, coming across as more approachable and less desperate in doing so. Though employees certainly have the edge in this war on talent, employers don’t have to concede to that in their communications!
WHO: The healthcare industry is facing a major staffing supply and demand imbalance, so employers are getting creative to broaden their talent pool.
  • Many health systems are forming academic partnerships to build a pipeline of talent for the future through onsite clinical training, pay to learn programs, academies for high school students, and even offering up interested nurses to teach in nursing programs with capacity constraints.
  • Some are proactively reaching out to employees who have been let go during mass layoffs at other organizations, empathetically turning their misfortune into an opportunity for a better cultural fit for both parties.
  • Others are reaching out to employees who recently left their own companies as boomerang hiring is on the rise amidst reports of “The Great Resignation” regret. Putting hard feelings aside benefits employers from an onboarding speed, performance, and cost savings standpoint. Healthcare organizations are re-engaging travel nurses whose contracts are ending, while establishing programs to ensure returning travelers and other nurses at the organization can work together effectively in a positive practice environment.
  • Employers are responding to the workforce’s desire for greater flexibility by creating more remote positions, expanding their talent pool out of state.
  • Another opportunity for out of state recruitment (for some) is to those practicing in states with strict abortion bans, who now fear being criminalized for their participation in treating certain patients in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s reversal.
  • Some employers are proactively recruiting employees who aren’t actively job searching but may find that their organization’s opportunity is a better fit, for example, travel nurse looking to put down roots, hospital nurses looking to create deeper connections with [practice] patients, or bedside nurses looking to get out of direct patient care.
  • There is also opportunity for employers to appeal to other branches of healthcare by addressing how their practice relieves their current challenges. One such prospect is pharmacists, who too are reportedly facing short-staffing and immense pandemic-induced pressures, compounded by wage stagnation.
  • Others are hiring non-clinical positions based on transferable skills, removing certain resume and experience criteria and modifying messaging to simplify talent sourcing and challenge preconceived notions of an ideal candidate.
  • Through fair chance hiring, DEI-focused employers recognize the potential of job seekers with criminal records and prevent overlooking a large pool of skilled, dependable, high-performing workers who tend to stay longer than the average hire.
WHERE: As they say, sometimes the answer is right in front of you.
  • An easy place to source talent is from within– offering opportunities to employees who are ambitious about their career development or simply looking for a change. Though this shifts versus fills an employer’s staffing needs, it also enhances their retention/recruitment storytelling.
  • Another great way to leverage existing staff for recruiting is via referrals, often amplified by referral bonuses. Nurses in particular have large but tight-knit networks, and a word-of-mouth referral from a current employee reflects very positively on the organization.
  • LinkedIn and Indeed are the “go-to” job posting platforms, but there are also many healthcare-focused job boards out there to find active candidates, like Health eCareersJAMA NetworkMedical Jobs, and the aforementioned Incredible Health, to name a few.

What's The Squeeze?
Healthcare’s staffing crisis requires an all hands on deck approach and is blurring the lines between recruitment and retention, plus the departmental ownership of both.

If your clients haven’t come knocking for recruitment help yet, expect that they will soon as their leadership and HR teams are surely knocking on their doors. While for some this may mean an unanticipated reallocation of marketing focus and funding away from consumer priorities, it’s absolutely vital as the staffing shortages are cause for safety concern and in some organizations have even resulted in the halting or disbanding of provider services altogether. It’s our duty and calling as healthcare marketers to dive headfirst into the industry’s latest thorny challenge and ensure the adequate continuation of high-quality patient care!

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