Attracting (and retaining) talent has always been a top challenge for health systems, hospitals, practices, and clinics. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created the perfect storm. Unprecedented levels of clinician burnout, employee turnover, and provider shortages have led to an extremely difficult and competitive healthcare hiring environment.
Even as COVID cases drop in some hard-hit areas, organizations are struggling to fill the gaps as they begin to re-focus on core operations and patient populations. If these hiring needs are not addressed, facilities will quickly find themselves in a vicious cycle that can negatively impact continuity of care, employee morale, and the bottom line.
So, what is the first step to turning this around? Improving the healthcare hiring process. Here are a few ways to get started:
Have more realistic requirements
As clinical shortages reach critical levels, it’s important to be realistic when assessing prospective hires. While you may have your sights set on a very particular profile, the chances of finding (and then securing) your dream candidate are very slim in today’s competitive healthcare hiring environment.
That said, consider your requirements for the job carefully and think about where you’re willing to compromise. Whether that’s the level of experience or a particular skillset, it’s important to keep an open mind about candidates with the right foundational skills and personality traits for the role. Thinking big picture by hiring for potential and providing training opportunities can also have a positive effect on retention. By nurturing younger or less experienced clinical talent, you can motivate them to work harder and stay with the organization for the long haul.
Include your frontline staff
Consider shifting away from top-down decision making and toward a team-based model. By getting department heads, immediate coworkers, and other frontline employees involved, you’ll gain a better understanding of team priorities and employee pain points. This will not only help you make more informed decisions, but also create a healthcare hiring process based on trust, teamwork, and transparency. Giving frontline staff a voice, addressing critical needs, and ensuring everyone is on the same page, can have a positive impact on hiring results, employee morale, and retention.
Consider the big picture
The longer the healthcare hiring process takes, the easier it is to lose track of yours goals and your budget. If you are starting to get off track or the process is taking longer than anticipated, here are some important questions to ask:
- How many expenses is the company incurring for every month the position goes unfilled?
- How much more work is being put on other team members until the position is filled?
- How is this affecting the team members? Are you accidentally creating any flight risks?
If the answers to any of these questions start to raise red flags, it’s time to consider your recruiting budget. To help you mitigate some of the above costs, there are several resources you can turn to—from leveraging external job boards, hiring more internal recruiters, and bringing on a staffing partner. While they may cost a little more money upfront, they can save you immensely in the long run! Read also: What Healthcare Facilities Should Look For When Partnering With A Staffing Firm
Speed up your hiring process
The best clinicians are in high demand and short supply, so it’s important to act quickly once you begin the healthcare hiring process. If you are taking too long to respond to applicants, schedule interviews, or make a final decision, you risk missing out on your next great hire. Worse, it can lead the position to remain unfilled. This can ultimately result in greater levels of clinician burnout, patients not getting seen, and lost profits.
Since time is of the essence, it’s important to adapt your hiring process to today’s healthcare market. To speed up the process, consider:
- Consolidating interview rounds: Long gone are the days where you can afford to conduct five to eight interviews per candidate. In fact, research from Google shows the diminishing return of interviewer feedback after the fourth round.
- Utilize technology to screen candidates faster: Making use of video technology is a great way to streamline your recruiting efforts. Since they can be recorded and make scheduling easier, they also invite more people into the hiring process at once.
- Make better offers: When you make a better offer up-front, you show the candidate that you value them—helping wrap up the process up sooner and increasing your chances of an accepted offer.
- Make a move when you meet a candidate you like: Once you find the perfect candidate, stop meeting with other prospective hires. By moving quickly, you are much more likely to secure your top candidate.
A lack of transparency about where a candidate stands or why they are being asked to complete certain tasks during the interview process might lead them to vanish without a word. To help create a better candidate experience, be clear about next steps at all stages of the healthcare hiring process. Explain how many applicants are in the running, when a decision will be made, and how they can expect to hear from you.
Offer staff more flexibility
Due to the pandemic, there is a widening gap between what employers need to staff their facilities and what healthcare professionals are looking for in their employer. Many organizations are understaffed and are looking for providers with a high level of engagement, while candidates are feeling burnt out and stretched too thin. In today’s healthcare hiring environment, this means most providers are looking for a change that affords them more flexibility at work. Whether this means offering part-time hours, options for flexible scheduling, or more remote work/telemedicine opportunities, healthcare facilities should keep an open mind. While there is no one size fits all solution, meeting these needs (at least halfway) can help attract new talent and retain your top employees.