May 14, 2021
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One of the many challenges that the Covid-19 crisis launched at the healthcare industry was that of recruitment. As the pandemic reached its peak levels, the shortage of healthcare workers and the inability of health facilities to hire medical professionals became glaring. That clinicians themselves, as frontline workers, fell sick to the virus and had to be quarantined only compounded the staffing challenges of healthcare organizations.
This article, based on the DirectShifts Podcast by Rollis Fontenot III – Founder, HR Maximizer Inc., and Vamshikrishna Gunukula – COO, DirectShifts, provides insights into the impact of the pandemic on healthcare recruitment and ways to navigate these challenges within the resource framework.
Some Challenges in Healthcare Recruitment:
Shortage of Medical Staff:
Though healthcare suffered from a shortage of clinicians long before the pandemic, the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the dearth of medical talent in numerous ways. For one, there were already not enough bedside nurses to care for patients, although the United States has enough licensed nurses to cover all jobs. The Covid-19 crisis exacerbated this problem further as several nurses with underlying medical conditions or families who had comorbidities opted out of bedside care. With every Covid wave that surged across states, about 500,000 such nurses had to sit on the bench until the government could intervene to help.
Cost of Talent:
Since clinicians were risking their lives fighting the pandemic and were in short supply themselves, the cost of recruiting medical talent went high. For example, organizations had to spend about three times the cost to hire traveling nurses, considering the risk factor involved in their daily function in Covid units.
Attracting Talent in Rural Healthcare Facilities:
While rural health facilities don't tend to hire health workers in volumes, they have different challenges. Rural health facilities find it difficult to attract and retain medical staff and deploy them at places that need help. As a result, they are forced to resort to multiple tools to ensure that clinicians are available when necessary.
How Healthcare Recruiters Can Sail Through
Recent advances in technology have virtually minimized the urban-rural divide by turning remote work into the order of the day. This allows clinicians to operate from rural settings at lower living costs and still work with urban facilities, helping them serve diverse populations simultaneously. However, the success of such a model depends on the kind of information that clinicians have access to.
Communicating to Clinicians
The first step to addressing staffing challenges is for organizations to identify their key offerings as an employer. Factors such as career growth possibilities, schedule flexibility, staffing ratios, work-life balance, housing, children's education, and safety can play a pivotal role in helping workers decide on a job. Placing information regarding the organization and its opportunities at strategic points frequented by clinicians and having an open conversation about the benefits of the opportunity are significantly known to improve hiring rates.
To make healthcare talent sit up to their information, organizations must figure out their competitive advantage in attracting talent. Content snippets of information in the form of short, two-minute-long videos and job previews that offer insight into the role, workplace tools, technologies, culture, and environment can serve as good differentiators from other employers. Such content must also include information that the candidate would need to get in touch with the organization and captions for better understanding. Uploading video content in square formats ensures that it plays out well across multiple platforms.
However, strategic placement of organization/opportunity content is as significant as the messaging of the content to ensure that clinicians view the content. Social media channels such as Google ads, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok are known to yield high views, as they are known to enjoy a sizeable clinician audience base. Pushing out paid ads besides running organic content in parallel can garner thousands of views, especially if it is done consistently to create a rich library of visual content. This is critical from a marketing standpoint, as it always takes multiple touchpoints for a brand to make an impression in the minds of its audience. While some experts believe that the standard multi-touchpoint number is 7, others claim that an audience must view the organization's content in at least ten different places to make an impression. Doing so increases the visibility of the organization and the opportunities available therein, in addition to helping them start the conversation with the candidate on the right note. Healthcare organizations, in urban and rural locations, must position themselves with the right information on the right channels regularly.
Revamping Job Descriptions
Healthcare organizations also need to rework their job descriptions to capture the attention of clinicians. Instead of posting elaborate text as job descriptions on hiring portals, employers could keep it simple, direct and give out specific, relevant details about the role such as the schedule, department, scope of work, number of team members, salary, benefits, and more. Breaking up the text into bullet points helps improve the readability of the job description and ensures that candidates don't skim-read the text.
Taking advantage of behaviors
About 80% of healthcare professionals in the US use Apple products. Healthcare recruiters, therefore, need to ensure that their job posts are optimized for Apple products such as iPad, iPhone, and MacBook. Similarly, most healthcare job-seekers tend to look at jobs on Mondays and Tuesdays of any given week. By posting about jobs before these days of the week, organizations improve their chances of being noticed by clinicians.
In the offline world, when organizations work together with universities and help clinicians with their licensing and credentialing, they establish a positive relationship with clinicians early on, which later translates to a healthy employer-employee relationship.
The challenges in healthcare recruitment can be abated if organizations/recruiters are cognizant of the aspirations of healthcare workers and help them achieve the same. Remember, a rising tide can lift all boats.
To listen to the full podcast, click here.