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September 6, 2022

Challenges with Staffing Shortage in the Healthcare Industry

Finding quality talent to fill jobs in the healthcare field is becoming increasingly difficult over the years. These roles, which are integral to providing a high level of service to patients, are seeing fewer people apply. This issue is concerning when viewed from a background screening standpoint. Hiring professionals who need to fill open seats may be tempted to cut corners during the screening process. This isn’t a smart move for several reasons.

Let’s look at the main factors contributing to the healthcare staffing shortage, how HR can improve hiring, and some Do’s and Don’ts for making sure your facility is fully staffed.

What Is Causing the Healthcare Talent Shortage?

According to a report by Mercer, the United States will lack an estimated 3.2 million healthcare workers by 2026. There are many reasons for this, two of the biggest being:

  • Boomers are retiring. It’s estimated that by 2026, 23,000 physicians and 900,000 nurses will permanently leave the profession. Add that the technicians, admins, and other employees who are retiring daily, and there are plenty of roles that must be filled.
  • COVID-19 fallout. The healthcare industry took a stressful, exhausting beating since the start of the COVID in 2020. Morning Consult reported that 1 in 5 healthcare workers quit their jobs during the pandemic. While some have returned, others may stay out of the workforce altogether or find jobs outside of healthcare.

How Can HR Improve Healthcare Hiring?

Finding ways to replace these employees requires planning, strategy, and change. 5 ways to combat the talent shortage and keep your healthcare organization fully staffed are:

  1. Practice Defensive Employee Retention

Take steps to keep your current employees happy and engaged so they don’t leave in the first place. Give staff nearing retirement flexibility to stay on part-time. Add perks that help staff relax and de-stress during the workday. Cover childcare and provide services to improve work/life balance. Managers should foster a positive company culture where everyone feels like their contributions are noticed and appreciated.

  1. Expand Recruiting Efforts

The places for finding talent a decade ago won’t get you many qualified candidates today. Look for creative ways to find talent. Add new job boards, amplify your social media efforts, attend college job fairs, and partner with professional staffing firms. A wider, deeper pool of candidates gives you a better chance of connecting with well-qualified people and maximizes your ability to fill open seats faster.

  1. Offer Competitive Pay

In this marketplace, there’s no room for lowballing. Candidates making a move in the healthcare field know they’re a hot commodity. Your hiring offers need to reflect that you understand the industry’s challenges and are willing to pay a competitive wage.

Conduct research to ensure your pay scale is up-to-date and in line with what similar organizations are paying. Keep in mind the lure of a robust benefits package that includes health insurance, dental, vision, and ample time off.

  1. Make Your Onboarding Seamless

A recent report estimated that 1 in 3 new employees quit within 90 days. All the time and money that went into finding, interviewing, negotiating, and bringing those employees on could be at risk for swirling, unrecoverable, down the drain.

Examine your onboarding process and tackle any obstacles that make it clunky or outdated. Embrace technology where you can as it speeds up the process and keeps the candidate in the loop. Assign team members and make them accountable for their section of the process, along with clear expectations of how each step should be handled. An intuitive onboarding process is essential in introducing the new employee to the company and ensuring they feel like they made a great decision.

  1. Trust a Third-Party Background Screening Company

Even during a staffing shortage, you should never sacrifice the safety of your patients or your organization. Healthcare screening laws are complex with federal, state and local regulations to adhere to. Work with a background screening vendor who understands these regulations and will help keep you in compliance. Make sure they offer pre-employment and post-hire screening solutions such as license verifications and physician credentialing that will meet healthcare accreditation board standards and weed out risky or unqualified hires.

Advanced background screening technology designed specifically for healthcare can help you make faster decisions, decrease hiring time, and combat staffing shortages. Background screeners should be able to integrate with your facility’s applicant tracking software (ATS) so HR can work in both programs seamlessly, which saves time and decreases the chances of data entry errors.

Do’s and Don’ts for Addressing the Healthcare Staffing Shortage

Navigating the healthcare staffing shortage takes determination and focus. Use this list of Do’s and Don’ts as actionable insights to empower your recruiting.

  • DO automate your recruiting and interviewing efforts
  • DON’T cut corners with background screening to get seats filled
  • DO add mobile capabilities to improve your candidate experience
  • DON’T stick to the old ways of recruiting
  • DO create a simple onboarding process
  • DON’T think candidates will wait around for an offer
  • DO look for perks that improve employee work/life balance
  • DON’T assume your close-to-retirement employees can’t be compelled to stay
  • DO invest in building a strong, positive company culture
  • DON’T get complacent with your candidate pool
  • DO always look for ways to recruit the highest-quality talent for your positions

With Boomers retiring and COVID-19 causing an exodus of employees in the healthcare field, HR professionals in the healthcare industry have their work cut out for them. Successfully handling the staffing shortage isn’t simple and requires a strategy that tackles the problem from multiple angles. It’s vital to act, be creative, and look for new ways to maintain current employees as well as attract new talent. Improving the recruiting process, widening the talent pool, offering competitive salaries, and streamlining new employee onboarding can all help your company stand above its competitors and grab the top talent for your open roles.

Sonya Weathers

Sonya Weathers is a National Account Executive for Data Facts.

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