Healthcare recruiting is no longer an easy task

Megan Harrell
November 22, 2021

Healthcare recruiting is no longer an easy task. In the past, companies were able to fill positions with inbound applicants because there were enough applicants to go around. With a dwindling workforce and competitive market, companies have been forced into new and everchanging strategies to find candidates and retain them for longer than a few months.  

In today’s market, hospitals are receiving COVID pay and incentives that allow them to pay double and triple the salary of other companies. Not only are they able to pull candidates from other industries locally, but are also able to pay for travel contracts in surrounding areas or even surrounding states. Even with these incentives, many healthcare professionals are leaving the industry all together. Nurses are retiring early, looking for remote work, or starting new careers. There are two things we should think about to help fight this battle. First, how do we get new candidates to enter the medical field? Second, how do we convince healthcare workers to stay in the industry?  

While statistically, there are actually more nursing students than ever before, we are still seeing an alarming number of shortages across the healthcare industry. With such shortages, current staff are experiencing burnout and either leaving the industry all together, or retiring early. Not to mention the staff that are leaving in protest of vaccine mandates. For a person entering the workforce, healthcare can’t be an attractive option. It seems that we are creating a snowball effect. But, how do we stop it?

To attempt to retain current staff, we have to find out what they need from us in order to obtain longevity. During this nursing shortage, I have noticed a trend of sending new hires into the field before they’ve been properly trained. It is human nature to want to succeed. Not properly training new staff will make them feel like they’re not meeting company expectations and unsure of their success. We have to make a point to train new hires properly, support them after they’ve been trained, and create best practices to make them feel appreciated. Managers are busier than ever. Many of them are seeing patients because of staffing issues. It’s easy for busy managers to think “they’ll just have to figure it out”, but they have to understand that there are millions of open positions and employees will just leave if they’re not empowered and motivated. This is the time to be giving every resource to new hires, with the goal of longevity and not having staff turnover every few months. You put the hard work in on the front end, instead of having to start over repeatedly.  

Additionally, managers need to understand their new employees. Younger generations seem to be needing more affirmation that their work is viewed as successful by management. They also want to see successful futures and aren’t afraid to change jobs if they’re not seeing growth in their current positions. The days of staying in the same position at the same company from eighteen to retirement are behind us. Resumes today show three to five years at each company before employees move on to new endeavors. Managers and companies need to show younger new hires that there is room for learning and growth at their company, or they will lose them to companies that can.  

Just as importantly, we have to learn new ways to retain the older staff as well. They need less affirmation than the younger new hires, but with current staffing shortages, older staff are getting burned out and choosing to retire early or to transition to work from home options. In my experience, this generation can feel empowered by something as simple as someone listening to them. When we listen to employees and talk through their concerns with them, we show that we care about them. Even if we can’t fix their issues, we can show that they’re important to the organization and that they’re supported.  

It is not only important for companies to be innovative with recruitment activities, company branding, and other ways to attract new hires, but it is equally important to encourage current staff. We create longevity by knowing what our staff need from us. Whether it be a young millennial who has never worked before, or a seasoned employee who has worked in the industry for many years, now is the time to support them in new ways to show we care.  

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