In 2015, hospitals, health systems and healthcare providers looking to hire had to cope with a thinly spread market. On top of that, high benefits costs and stagnant wages added to the uncertainty of both employers and employees. As healthcare reform goes into effect, hospitals and other health systems have had to transform the way they deliver care by considering new roles like care coordinators and clinical pharmacists. And with the influx of more than 30 million previously uninsured now seeking care, staffing needs will grow exponentially. One of the top challenges for Healthcare HR departments and organizations in 2015 was employee recruitment and retention.
To account for additional patients and an increased emphasis on the importance of patient satisfaction and experience, organizations will need to hire and develop additional quality staff who embody the necessary core values and skills to contribute to success. However, this is easier said than done. In 2016, healthcare companies will face a number of staffing issues and challenges as they work to identify, hire and retain employees to remain competitive in the midst of rapid change.
In this blog, we identify 3 major challenges that Healthcare HR departments will face in 2016:
- Competition is high for a relatively small pool of qualified Healthcare professionals
- Baby boomers are starting to retire in great numbers
- The stablizing economy is leading to more employees shifting away from holding jobs simply for security purposes
Competition is high for a relatively small pool of qualified Healthcare professionals
Although we are beginning to see the end of the Great Recession as the economy generally stabilizes, there are still millions of Americans looking for work or looking to improve on their current employment circumstances. Yet, an increasing amount of employers are reporting that it’s getting more difficult to find qualified candidates. Although there is technically not a labor shortage, a number of sectors are having trouble filling positions and the healthcare industry is no exception.
When it comes to labor and talent shortages, one of the hardest hit areas is Healthcare IT. In fact, a third of healthcare managers said they had to postpone or scale back IT projects because of inadequate staffing, according to a 2014 survey by the Health Information Management and Systems Society. Technology is moving forward at such a rapid pace, and there simply may not be enough of the right people out there to for the Healthcare Industry keep up.
For IT-intensive projects like Electronic Health Records (EHR), the labor crunch is particularly prominent. One factor that has led to this reality is that most hospital systems and large physician groups would prefer not to hire just any IT person. Rather, they are interested in IT specialists that have extensive experience in healthcare. Even if the candidate is a graduate of a health IT training program, it’s typically not a substitute for actual field experience. To cope with this challenge, many healthcare systems have done a good job of developing in-house talent or have outsourced IT to organizations that specialize in Healthcare IT. Outside of these tactics, a worthwhile solution to the healthcare IT staffing dilemma is to work with Healthcare IT recruiting specialists like Healthcare Recruiters International. Doing that ensures you end up with highly-qualified candidates and frees up time for CIOs and management to focus on other priorities.
Baby boomers are starting to retire in great numbers
As a massive segment of the current working population, the baby boomer generation is beginning to deliver a blow to health care as its members begin retiring in great numbers. Currently, the healthcare industry is dominated by boomers, but there is a mass exodus beginning to take place, which will impact all segments of the healthcare workforce. As nice as it it would be for the stability of the industry, the 2.5 million baby boomers working in healthcare won’t be sticking around for too much longer.
How will this impact future healthcare professionals? The answer to this question is two-fold. First, there will be a shortage of nurses, as baby boomers make up a major portion of the current nursing workforce. Second, baby boomers make up 28% of our population, which means that, as they retire, more healthcare will be required. Healthcare systems and organizations have tried to cure these challenges with using a variety of different approaches. Some have tried raising salaries while others have started offering massive sign-on bonuses. Despite these efforts, minimal progress has been made in terms of increasing the physician and nursing workforce.
As a healthcare recruiter, it’s important not to write off baby boomers before they’ve exited the workforce completely, as one in ten say they will never retire. Recruiters and healthcare HR departments who keep boomers engage will be more successful.
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Just because you’ve hired the right person, doesn’t mean the battle is over. As the economy stabilizes, more employees are shifting away from holding jobs simply for security purposes, which has led significantly increased turnover rates. Along with that, lack of advancement, work overload, poor salary, too few staff, and poor organizational culture are top challenges that lead healthcare workers to pursue other options. Nonetheless, one of the keys to sucess in any industry is not only hiring A-players, but also retaining them so they continue to add value to your organization for years to come.
When these types of sudden opening are created, it puts a lot of pressure on an already stressed recruiting system. Recruiters can benefit from accounting for potential early turnover as they assess criteria for final applicants when placing candidates. The best plan is to develop a sustainable strategy and plan to retain talent to bridge the gap between healthcare supply and demand, according to a research paper by CareerBuilder.
To increase retention, it’s important to create reasons for employees to stay. Healthcare organizations must create environments that remove barriers to long-term work satisfaction. According to a CareerBuilder survey, healthcare workers were asked to identify the top challenges that cause them to look for new jobs. Respondents said that the biggest challenge they face is lack of advancement opportunities, and over half said they wanted to stay with their organization and take on new roles, but they don’t see a path to do so. Moreover, some employees are spread so thin that they can’t take on additional training or education opportunities and some organizations are so bogged down with the day-to-day responsibilities of patient care that they don’t even offer training or advancement opportunities.
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A Unique Problem
There is a unique problem facing healthcare organizations right now due to a combination of factors. Although business is booming in the industry, there simply aren’t enough employees to go around, partly due to the fact that the general population and the majority of the healthcare workforce are aging at the same time. This means that the number of people seeking healthcare services is increasing, while the number of healthcare providers is decreasing. This gap between supply and demand is putting increased pressure on organizations as they seek to both hire new employees and provide care to a growing amount of patients.
While competitive compensation packages and signing bonuses can certainly help to attract employees, organizations need to take a more holistic approach to hiring by truly listening to what employees want and offering professional development programs. Listening to employees and offering them advancement opportunities, in conjunction with competitive pay and a balanced workload, are just some of the ways that organizations can remain competitive in recruitment while also increasing retention rates as we move into 2016.