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Physician and Healthcare Job Board

Attract and Retain Talent Through Career Development

Career Development as a Tool to Attract and Retain Talent
Jakub Jirsak/

In the war for talent, institutions must use every available tool to attract applicants to the fold. For many job seekers, a new position is only the beginning of their “wish list” for employment; career development and advancement are top of mind when looking for a new job. In fact, the number one reason working candidates search for a new opportunity is career advancement, according to one survey.

Attracting Talent

The odds are high, then, that the resumes you receive are from applicants unhappy with growth opportunities from their current institution. Offering them a chance to advance can be an excellent start to their career path with yours. One study reveals 93% of employees move companies to change their roles; only 7% are able to advance from within. For recruiters in the healthcare industry, the ability to offer advancement, either from a current position, or in the future, can be a powerful attraction tool.

As the talent shortage continues to vex employers, the odds are high your applicant pool is already working. How can you convince them to join your team? Few job seekers are looking to make a lateral move. Unless they’re highly dissatisfied with their current institution, there may be very little reason to make a change. What may set you apart is not just what you offer today, but what you can offer in the future.

Career advancement cannot be overemphasized. When crafting job postings, it can mean the difference between attracting job seekers or having them move on to the next posting. Whether you’re offering an immediate increase in status or can outline a path to growth for the future, career development is the newest “must-have” for job seekers.

Retaining Talent

Turnover is a costly proposition. One study puts turnover rates in healthcare at over 20%, an increase of almost 5% since 2010.  In 2017, the unemployment rate in the healthcare industry was 2.5% – its lowest level in over a decade. The message to employers: your workforce is ripe for poaching and jumping ship.

Losing one-fifth of the workforce on an annual basis places a monumental burden on the institution as coworkers struggle to maintain quality of care while recruiters work an endless cycle of attrition. One strategy to increase retention is to address the reasons people leave, as well as what they want, for their career.

Knowing the top reason to leave a job is for career advancement, institutions that address career growth and development have a higher likelihood of retaining the talent they’ve worked so hard to attract. For millennials in particular, career development is a priority: 71% report they are likely to leave their jobs within 2 years if they’re unhappy with how their skills are being developed.

Educational opportunities are just the first step. While most healthcare institutions provide funding for continuing education and certification, if staff members view development as only job-necessary, they can’t see growth in their future. Encouraging staff and mangers to look beyond what’s needed for today, and grow for tomorrow can be a strong engagement and retention tool. When institutions invest in their employees, the return can be ownership and loyalty.

Providing Opportunities

More than just growth in their own field, many employees look to stretch their professional wings. Cross-training in other areas may help reduce burnout. This offers employees a chance to expand beyond the day-to-day and challenge themselves. It can spark interest in growth or reaffirm an established commitment.

Succession planning should be top of mind for every institution and its management team. Who will take the lead in the event of the loss of a staff member, and how are those employees being readied for the challenges they will face? As staffers see they are being groomed for growth, they see they are valued for the long-term – a powerful motivator to stay with your institution.

Generating Buy-in

The challenge for recruiters is to bring management on board with retention strategies that work. It’s likely your exit interview data reveals career advancement as a significant reason you lose staffers. Having that information and working with management teams at all levels to develop plans for advancement within the institution may reduce the cycle of attrition. Whether it’s on-the-job training or educational opportunities, providing a path to grow must be a priority.

Career advancement is a powerful tool to attract and retain talent. When employees and job seekers recognize the value institutions place on them today and in the future, both can achieve their long-term goals.

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About Riia O'Donnell

Riia O’Donnell has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the Human Resource function. Beginning as a recruiter, she grew to lead in all areas of HR, including employee training and development, legal compliance, benefits administration, compensation evaluation, and staff management. She has been a contributing writer for a wealth of HR, training, and small business websites for the past 7 years. Connect with Riia on Twitter at @RiiaOD.

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