April 5th, 2022 | Valerya Poltorak, General Manager, Sterling Healthcare & Life Sciences

Strategies for Recruiting Healthcare Talent

Staffing shortages among health systems have been an ongoing challenge. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that one in five U.S hospitals have reported critical staffing shortages, contributing to employee burnout, dissatisfaction, and even quality of patient care and safety.

How can hospitals and other health facilities further combat this ongoing challenge? Sterling’s Jennifer Tomassi, Head of Client Success for Healthcare and Life Sciences, recently joined a panel of talent acquisition experts from Sanford Health to share some of the issues they experienced from labor shortages and ways they were able to combat these obstacles. This blog post will highlight key areas mentioned from the discussion.

To view the full discussion, you can watch the Combating the Employee Shortage in Healthcare on-demand webinar.

Effects of Labor Shortages: Lower Applicant Volume

One of the negative impacts that was seen due to labor shortages was having a lower than typical applicant volume, especially since the start of the pandemic. A Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post poll found that about 3 in 10 healthcare workers consider leaving the profession, mainly due to being burned out by the pandemic.

The biggest gap being seen in the healthcare labor shortage recently has been entry-level roles, specifically non-clinical roles. Even before the pandemic, a poll by the Medical Group Management Association reported that more than 60% of medical practice leaders said their organizations have experienced a shortage of qualified applicants from non-clinical positions in the past year.

Why is this happening? The ability to compete with larger organizations in the non-clinical space is a challenge. One thing that impacts the healthcare industry uniquely is that their financial models don’t change because of labor shortages. Although other industries such as retail and hospitality have the ability to raise prices and adjust hours of operations to respond to staffing crises, health systems do not. Operating 24/7, needing staff available to accommodate patients, and having a large portion of income tied to various payment models, such as the government and insurance companies, impacts how they can recruit.

Combating Staffing Shortages: Simplify the Hiring Process

During the webinar, one of our speakers said, “Those who get to the talent quickest get the talent.” More than ever, the length of the hiring process can sometimes be the differentiating factor for candidates moving forward with you or another organization.

Making the application process easy and convenient can provide a great experience for candidates. For example, younger applicants generally prefer the convenience and accessibility of smartphones. Mobile job applications officially surpassed those submitted on desktop computers in 2020 with 61% of all applications submitted via mobile devices. Sterling encourages candidates to use our mobile Candidate Hub when asking for additional information, increasing the likelihood of a quick response, in turn reducing overall turnaround time.

Accelerating the hiring process, especially for entry-level positions, is also something to consider. Review your current process and identify where there’s a bottleneck: is it potentially the hiring manager’s availability? Is the hiring process too complicated or too long? In the case with Sanford Health, by reevaluating their rapid hire process for entry-level positions, they are now able to have candidates apply, be interviewed, sent an offer, and accepted, all within 20 hours.

Growing Your Talent Pool: Explore Multiple Hiring Options

When we asked our webinar attendees what their biggest challenge was when it came to staffing shortages, over 80% reported “sourcing talent.”

Below are a few strategies that can help grow your talent pool: 

  • Leverage technology: Technology-enabled screening can help fast-track the background screening process. Integrating a background screening partner into your existing ATS can streamline the recruiting process and identify quality talent all in one place. Sterling’s extensive network of ATS partners can help make recruiting, tracking, and monitoring more efficient and effective.
  • Second chance hiring: Considering a candidate with a criminal record, especially those who would be involved with patients, can make someone pause. Research from SHRM, however, shows that 85% of HR and 81% of business leaders report that individuals with criminal records perform the same as or better than employees without criminal records. By looking into this largely untapped pool, healthcare organizations can benefit in a variety of ways, including building an inclusive, diverse, and successful workplace.
  • Recruit internationally: With a shortage of highly-skilled US healthcare workers, recruiting globally not only widens your talent pool but can also build a rich and more fulfilling workplace culture for all employees. When conducting global background checks, it’s important to work with a screening partner that can help keep you and your organization in the know on regional regulatory changes.
  • Contingent workers: Sometimes during the background screening process, for example, there can be delays and bumps caused by county jurisdiction. If everything else looks positive on the background check, instead of waiting for the results and possibly losing your candidate, consider allowing them to start contingently while continuing to run the background check on the backend. 

Looking Ahead

The effects of healthcare’s staffing shortages are being felt nationwide as we continue to navigate through Covid-19. Even once we move past the pandemic, rebuilding a solid workforce will remain an ongoing challenge. By exploring new and creative strategies for sourcing top talent, healthcare organizations can improve their pipeline to meet their organizational needs.

View our recent webinar Combating the Employee Shortage in Healthcare on-demand webinar.

Learn more about Sterling’s Healthcare and Life Sciences.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.