hiring trends in the healthcare industry.

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The ultimate goal in healthcare is to always find the next best thing: better cures, better medicines, better technologies. With so much change happening so fast, healthcare organizations must always be vigilant to monitor the latest developments to avoid falling behind.  

If you're an employer looking to hire in healthcare, however, there's another set of trends you need to watch in order to stay competitive. Here's a look at what's happening in healthcare from a hiring perspective, and what you can do to adjust your staffing strategy to stay current. 

the numbers you should know

First, the good news. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the healthcare industry is expected to grow 14 percent between 2018 and 2028, but the talent shortage will continue to loom large, and finding enough professionals to care for this influx of patients will be challenging.

growth is good:
the BLS predicts the healthcare industry as a whole to grow 14% by 2028.

Skills gaps are especially pronounced in occupations like:

  • nursing: a shortage of 1.2M predicted by 2030

  • physicians: a shortage of 122,000 predicted by 2032

  • doctors (all specialties): a shortage of 61,800 predicted by 2030

This mixture of both excess growth and severe shortage jibed with findings from our own job-ad analysis from the past year. According to data obtained by Burning Glass, a leading labor-insight provider:

Nurses had the most job postings in healthcare over the past 12 months:

  • nurses: 1,088,316 postings

  • medical and health services managers: 214,495 postings

  • physicians/surgeons:130,430 postings

The need is clearly there for managers and medical personnel to support growing facilities, but they're increasingly hard to find:

52 percent pie chart_1 said it was hardest to find physicians
46 percent pie chart_1 said hiring nurses was the most challenging
35 percent pie chart_1 said that overcoming the talent shortage would be their biggest challenge in the coming year

what this means for employers

If you're looking to hire in healthcare, expect fierce competition. While it's true that the industry is growing, the talent shortage is, too — effectively negating any gains being made by an industry that, otherwise, is prospering. In order to get (and keep) the talent you need, you'll need to rethink your staffing strategy. Here’s what we recommend based on the current trends:

trends arrow blue illustrationtrend:
severe shortage of healthcare talent

how that effects you:
organizations will be looking to lure your skilled talent away

focus on employee retention

A one-size-fits-all approach to hiring won't cut it in today's talent market — there's simply too much competition. To give yourself the best chance of landing talent, you need a targeted approach. 

Let's use one of the industry's most in-demand positions, registered nurses, as a guide to get you thinking. If you're setting out to hire a registered nurse (RN), for example, you'll want to:

  • speed up your hiring cycle to avoid missing out on candidates

  • look up nursing in a salary guide to set a competitive pay rate

  • identify the top skills for RNs so you know who to target

  • write a tailored job description that speaks to those skills

  • brush up on industry trends that may be related to attracting RNs (you can check this one off the list — you're doing it here!)

  • find the best channels to reach nursing candidates

For a more detailed overview on how to hire in the healthcare industry, click here.

trends arrow yellow illustrationtrend:
widening skills gaps in healthcare occupations

how that affects you:
organizations will be looking to lure your skilled talent away

focus on employee retention

1. offer competitive pay
Other changes to your hiring strategy like cultivating a talent pipeline or building an employer brand, take time. But if you're looking for a quicker fix to help you both attract and retain talent, then offer more competitive pay. 

To see what you should be paying, consult an online salary calculator. With data updated quarterly and tailored to each position, you'll be able to set your pay rates competitively. However, salary data varies from market to market, so if you'd like a more in-depth look at average salaries in your area, get a copy of an up-to-date salary guide and build your rates from there.

retention is a widespread issue:
employee quit rates are the highest they’ve been in nearly 20 years.

2. improve benefits
The only thing more effective than offering competitive pay is offering competitive pay and benefits. Sixty-six percent of employee respondents to a Randstad study said that a strong benefits and perks package was the most significant factor in determining whether or not they'd accept a job offer. So that right there could already provide a great boost to your ability to attract new talent — but it gets better.

Fifty-five percent of respondents to the same survey also said that they'd left jobs in the past because they received better benefits elsewhere. When you improve your benefits, you're also improving your ability to retain all the great talent you already have. And that's a win-win. 

66 percent pie chart_yellow66% of employees said that a strong benefits and perks package was the most significant factor in determining whether or not they'd accept a job.

Here are some benefits and perks that our research revealed to be most popular among employees:

  • Flexibility: offer early Friday releases, flexible/remote work options and unlimited vacation time.

  • Onsite amenities: gyms, dry cleaning, childcare and stocked food pantries were all echoed by respondents.

  • Benefits tailored to life stages: student loan assistance for younger workers and more comprehensive healthcare for older employees, for example. 

3. create a positive work environment
Fifty-eight percent of employees said they have, or would consider, leaving a job over negative office politics, so take the pulse of your facility’s workplace culture to identify if there are any problem areas to address. With so many job opportunities available, today’s employees are no longer sticking around to work in problematic or conflict-ridden environments. Look to promote team building over competition, build a positive employer brand image and match managers with teams have the right personalities for their leadership style. 

trends arrow red illustrationtrend:
high levels of physician burnout

how that affects you:
decrease in work quality and increased risk of churn

improve employee engagement

Due to the high level of stress associated with the job, it’s no surprise that burnout has emerged as a top concern in healthcare. Forty-four percent of physician respondents to a recent survey said they were burned out, a dangerously high number given how directly their work touches the lives of others. In fact, one study of 200 hospitals found that lower levels of engagement among nurses were tied to higher complication and patient mortality rates. Improving employee engagement will not only keep your patients safe, but it’ll decrease the likelihood that your employees leave, a key edge you’ll want to maintain as competition for healthcare talent increases. To improve employee engagement on your staff:

1. concentrate on work-life balance
For healthcare positions, you’ll want to alleviate as much stress as possible. If there are any functions that can be completed from home, allow those employees to work remotely from time to time. For doctors and nurses who always need to be onsite, consider offering more flexible scheduling, either over start times or days of the week. Even some of the onsite amenities we discussed above like childcare or dry cleaning can help alleviate some of the strain of balancing both work and home responsibilities. 

2. make work meaningful
Employees today are looking to find more meaning in their work, so if you find your staff stuck going through the motions, remind them of the importance of their services. For healthcare facilities, everyone is playing an important role in the process of healing, and emphasizing this mission in your performance reviews or regular employee check-ins can help ease some of the strain being placed on workers and reinvigorate them with a new sense of purpose. 

44 percent pie chart red44% of physicians said they experienced feelings of being burned out on the job.

3. streamline scheduling: 
If you need to be able to provide care 24/7, there’s no getting around shifts at less-than-ideal hours. If that’s the case, make sure your facility is adequately staffed so that if employees do have to work late nights, they’ll have enough recovery time before their next shift. Rather than dictating scheduling from the top down, allow employees to set their own schedules. Ceding some of this control can bring about a significant boost to satisfaction levels. 

key takeaways

With job opportunities outpacing the amount of qualified candidates on the market, employers will need to think differently about hiring in order to attract and retain talent. That means:

  • tailoring your hiring approach for each role to find talent despite the competition

  • improving retention through competitive pay and compensation and creating a positive working environment

  • increasing engagement by promoting a better work-life balance, improved scheduling and instilling a sense of purpose in employees’ work

Keep in mind that a targeted hiring approach is difficult to discuss in universal terms. The steps will inevitably vary depending on the individual positions you're looking to fill. For more tailored advice on how to hire for specific positions, visit our How to Hire page below. 

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