In the aftermath of the pandemic, institutions are working hard to return to normal. American industries bemoan The Great Resignation. Shifting to remote or pushed out of work due to shutdowns, slowdowns, and closures of schools and care facilities changed the way Americans viewed their place in the workplace. Unfortunately for most industries, returning normal is not going to plan. Workers are re-evaluating their commitment to onsite, full-time or working at all.
In healthcare the Great Resignation and its non-recovery may be more serious and troubling than in other sectors. Staff shortages in healthcare do not equate to lost productivity or profits; they equate to inadequate patient care. Healthcare facilities must recognize the challenges facing them this year and come up with workable solutions.
A report recently published by the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment highlights five major areas institutions will face. They discuss the fallout of vaccine mandates, recently upheld by Supreme Court: burnout, the challenges rural facilities face, and other issues. Some of these may be affecting your facility. Here are some possible solutions.
For healthcare providers that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, the mandates clearly present a challenge. While it’s unclear how may hospital workers are unvaccinated, and how many among those are exempt due to religious or medical status, shortages may be crippling facilities.
For smaller institutions, those in rural areas and nursing home facilities, the mandates could exacerbate existing shortages and put patient care at risk. The Biden administration has pledged to work with these facilities to assure they can vaccinate any worker who is willing. For those who are not, facilities may need to review their exemption requirements to accommodate workers who hold sincere religious beliefs or whose personal medical history may preclude them from being vaccinated.
The pandemic put unprecedented pressure on facilities and their staff. For many healthcare professionals, burnout has become untenable. AAPPR reports one in three physicians are considering retiring early, post-COVID. The challenge for providers to recruit replacements for these physicians may be impossible. Facilities may need to incorporate retention strategies with their recruitment plans to delay or defray early retirements. Work with physicians to accommodate their needs: leaves of absence, reduction to part-time work, or contract work may be short-term solutions that help. In the long-term, the time off or reduced time may help them recommit to returning to full-time status.
The rise of telemedicine has been a plus for institutions and patients, but many physicians and healthcare professionals may be struggling to keep pace. For these, a digital environment is uncharted territory and they may be uncertain of their skill set or their ability to learn. For existing professionals, extensive training may be required to boost their competencies as well as their confidence.
Healthcare recruitment professionals may want to target new staff that are comfortable in a digital environment. Digital natives, who may not be familiar with specific platforms but are comfortable navigating virtual and tech-dependent environments will likely be in high demand in the future. Pursuing them directly should be a priority. Promising training and development that will help existing candidates build their digital healthcare resume could be a determining factor in an applicant’s decision to choose your facility over another.
Another way facilities are working to return to full staffing levels is proactively recruiting passive talent. A traditional avenue to hire high-level physicians, passive recruitment is now becoming the norm for a wider range of healthcare professionals. If your institution isn’t searching for non-active recruits, you can be confident other facilities in your area (and beyond) are looking to attract your current staff through their own efforts.
Look to professional social media sites to source potential candidates by sending out exploratory emails and messages to discover whether they would be interested in discussing vacancies within your institution. In today’s competitive market, talent is likely fielding dozens of inquiries; make sure you don’t miss out on this trend.
Candidate experience must be flawless
With all potential hires, candidate experience has the power to make or break a recruitment effort. In today’s market, candidate experience has never been more critical. Examine your processes to make sure every touch point along the recruitment process is more than streamlined; it should be an affirmation that your facility is the only place they want to work. From the first point of contact to the first day on the job and every step along the way, make sure your focus is on what the candidate wants from you, from the job, and from the institution. Don’t forget those who don’t say yes today may be potential hires in the future.
Hospital recruiting professionals will continue to be challenged in the aftermath of the pandemic that has intensified already difficult recruitment efforts. The solution may be twofold. First, marry retention and recruitment. Treat every potential resignation as a recruitment effort. Work with existing staff to accommodate their short-term challenges for long-term retention. Next, facilities may need to shift the way they recruit, combining passive and active practices. For all potential hires or retentions, leverage the best strategies and enticements your facility has to offer.