Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations continue to face talent shortages and a persistent need for staff to meet growing patient needs. For many, it has been a rough journey, marked by hard-to-fill positions, employee burnout, and the challenges of remote work.
As the pandemic persists, healthcare organizations are identifying new ways to refine hiring processes and meet current challenges. Here are five actions healthcare employers can take now to find hiring success amid the ongoing pandemic.
Master Remote Hiring
One of the biggest changes affecting workplaces everywhere has been the shift to remote work during the pandemic. By many accounts, remote work is here to stay, including in healthcare. In fact, in a recent PwC survey, one in three healthcare leaders said their future workforce plans would include a blend of in-person, hybrid, and remote work.
While employees working in clinical roles—physicians, nurses, and technicians—must work on-site, there are many other healthcare positions where remote or hybrid work may continue for some time, for example, those in HR, IT, and marketing. As a result, it’s critical for healthcare organizations to make remote hiring a critical component of the overall talent acquisition strategy.
Some elements of an efficient remote hiring process include the following:
- Electronic I-9 services as a replacement for in-person employment eligibility document review
- High-quality candidate background checks and paperless drug screening
- Digital onboarding resources and support
Reassess Background Screening Processes
Given the many federal and state requirements governing healthcare hiring and employment, the background screening process is a key area to evaluate for efficiency and compliance. For example, by reviewing processes for disclosure and authorization, education and employment verification, and healthcare sanction checks, employers can find new opportunities to improve compliance, offer a better candidate experience, and make critical hires faster.
Another opportunity to improve the background screening and hiring process is in rescreening rehires. Because employees returning to the workforce after an extended absence may have experienced changes in their healthcare employment eligibility, rescreening can help employers manage the risks of rehiring and maintain a safe clinical environment. By working with an experienced background screening company, the rescreening process can be completed efficiently and in compliance with applicable laws.
Educate Students About Healthcare Career Pathways
It’s no secret the healthcare industry has been facing a shortage of nurses and other professionals for some time. And given the continuing retirement of baby boomers, the shortage of healthcare talent is likely to persist. For example, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), by 2030, demand for physicians will exceed supply by as much as 120,000, in large part due to the high number of anticipated retirements.
To backfill retiring healthcare professionals, it will be critical to attract not just current healthcare professionals and new graduates, but also students who haven’t yet chosen a healthcare career. By engaging students at the high school level and perhaps even earlier, healthcare employers can get a head start in educating students about career options in the health sciences.
Evaluate Compensation and Benefits Programs
When talent is scarce and healthcare candidates have many options, the competitiveness of compensation and benefits can mean the difference between engaging candidates or losing them to another employer. In a 2021 Mercer survey, 87 percent of healthcare professionals said better pay and benefits would attract them to a new employer.
In addition to assessing compensation and benefits for competitiveness through market surveys and other research, healthcare employers can also survey existing employees to better understand which benefits are more valued. For example, surveys may reveal that employees are more likely to value nontraditional benefits such as childcare and eldercare support amid the pandemic.
Recognize and Support Talent Acquisition Staff
When organizations are experiencing a hiring surge and also struggling to attract scarce talent, in-house recruitment professionals can feel the pain. According to Jobvite’s 2021 Recruiter Nation survey, 65 percent of recruiters said they were more stressed since the start of the pandemic, and only eight percent said their stress levels have decreased in the last year.
As recruiters continue to feel the pressure of hiring during the pandemic, it’s critical to provide support and recognition of the challenges they face. Benefits such as flexible work schedules, financial incentives, and even informal shout-outs during team meetings can help talent acquisition staff feel valued and appreciated.
A Fresh Approach to Healthcare Hiring
It’s anyone’s guess when the pandemic will end and provide healthcare organizations with a much-needed break. Moreover, ongoing uncertainty, particularly as new COVID-19 variants appear, will continue to strain a healthcare system already struggling with talent shortages and higher patient demand. However, by taking action to streamline the hiring process and find new ways to attract talent, healthcare employers can hire more efficiently and competitively in 2022 and beyond.
Written by Tom Turner.
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