How to Overcome Healthcare Recruiting Challenges




Across industries, recruiting is a challenge in the current employment landscape. But few are under quite as much pressure as the healthcare industry, which is facing overwhelming staffing issues.


First of all, the demands of the pandemic have contributed to an immediate shortage of healthcare jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows that employment dropped by over 500,000 healthcare jobs since February 2020, and hospitals reported a decrease of 5,800 filled positions between March 2021 and April 2021 alone.


The BLS also reports that the number of necessary healthcare positions is projected to increase nearly 12% between 2018 and 2028, almost double the projected rate for all other occupations. Along with this increase is the retirement of an aging workforce, with Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) data showing that two of every five active physicians in the US will be 65 or older within the next decade. By 2034, the AAMC US will see a shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians and the BLS estimates that 203,700 more nurses will be needed nationwide each year to meet growing needs and replace retirees.


In such a competitive market, candidates now expect to receive detailed information about opportunities and immediate response times. Recruiters must look for ways to gain an advantage and identify, connect with, and ultimately, hire the right candidates. Fortunately, the right technology can play a key role in streamlining the recruiting process. Here are three important ways healthcare providers and healthcare systems can use a Human Capital Management (HCM) system to make recruiting easier:


1. Understand the big picture.

There is a wide range of factors that make recruiting in healthcare so difficult. It can be overwhelming for recruiters to keep track of the many variables that have an effect, including:


  • Shortage of qualified individuals. There is a candidate shortage to fill roles in all facets of the healthcare industry. Along with the need for more physicians and nursing staff, a survey conducted by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science found that 7.2% of lab technician positions remained unfilled nationwide.

  • Aging of the current workforce. In addition to the large physician population facing retirement, the majority of nurses are also poised to enter retirement age. In 2017, more than half of all nurses were aged 50 or older, and close to 30% were over 60.

  • High demand. With an aging baby-boom population, longer life expectancies, and an increase in patients with chronic conditions, the demand for more healthcare positions will only continue to rise. The BLS predicts as many as 3.3 million new jobs being added between 2020 and 2030.

  • Education costs. The cost of healthcare education is significant; the MD class of 2020 had an average debt of $200,000. Additionally, American nursing schools facing a lack of funding turned away over 80,000 qualified applicants, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

  • Hard-to-fill positions. While specialized roles such as pulmonologists and cardiologists are often the most difficult to fill, even 59.7% of all nurse practitioner jobs remain open after 60 days of posting.

  • Hiring costs. This includes salaries, benefits packages, signing bonuses, relocation expenses, and the cost of the recruiting process.

  • Staffing budgets. While the costs for hiring are on the rise, many hospitals face flat budgets or are even contending with budget cuts.

  • Turnover rates. Healthcare provider turnover rates are double the national average due in large part to employee burnout.


Many hospitals and healthcare providers approach recruiting and resourcing on a per-team basis, with each department using its headcount and resource spreadsheet. This makes it quite difficult for big-picture planning and decision-making to happen efficiently, as compiling data from so many sources is time-consuming. 


With an integrated HCM system, all of the data is available in one place. Accessible reports help eliminate time-consuming and error-prone manual processes for essential activities such as workforce projections, recruitment planning, and budget allocation. The robust reporting features that an HCM provides can give the instant visibility that executives need to gain valuable insights, better understand the big picture, and make more informed decisions.


Related: Gain Rich Business Insights with HCM.


2. Sharpen your recruiting practices 

Unfortunately, recruiting in the healthcare industry is an expensive and time-consuming process. Because of non-compete agreements and other contractual obligations, physicians are often required to give six months’ notice. The lead time for the entire hiring process can end up being between nine months to a year, and the average cost to recruit a single physician has reached $250,000 this year.


In response to so many open positions, employers find themselves faced with an extremely competitive hiring landscape. Candidates are being inundated by recruiters, with many residents and fellows receiving over 100 solicitations during their final year of training, with candidates sometimes being recruited to sign hiring contracts in their second year of residency. This puts extra pressure on employers to develop an intentional recruiting strategy that enables them to differentiate their organization from others and demonstrate they have something unique and significant to offer candidates. 


With an HCM, employers have the insight and control over the hiring data they need to more easily consider creative solutions to refine their recruiting strategy. For example, having instant access to compensation package data and department budgets makes it possible to determine the feasibility of offering hiring bonuses and salary increases. Plus, an HCM solution that includes integrated training and development can help recruiters attract candidates through personalized career advancement planning.


Additionally, hospitals and healthcare providers face varying rules and regulations for credentialed workers. Utilizing an integrated HCM can help recruiters manage and track different state laws and licensing requirements to ensure they maintain compliance when hiring new staff.


Related: HCM Technology Helps Managers Recruit Better Candidates.


3. Maximize your retention strategy

Hiring and training new staff is more expensive than driving higher levels of engagement and long-term employment, which is why it is so important for healthcare employers to pay attention to retention. A survey conducted by NSI revealed the cost of turnover for a registered nurse averages $44,000. Replacing a physician can be even more expensive, with data from the AMA showing potential costs between $500,000 to $1 million


Some of the biggest reasons cited for turnover are workload issues and desire for advancement. With the added stresses brought on by the pandemic, the National Academy of Medicine reports that 35%- 54% of nurses and physicians now have symptoms of burnout. As a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey conducted this year found, nearly 30% of all health care workers in the US are considering leaving the profession altogether.


An HCM technology tool can help improve retention rates by ensuring that your HR team has the tools it needs to communicate more frequently and transparently with healthcare employees. With features such as personal wellbeing check-ins and 1:1 coaching sessions, employers can more easily identify and address signs of burnout earlier. For those seeking career advancement opportunities, HCM systems can also provide training and development to enhance and refine critical skills using approachable and convenient online continuing education courses. 


Related: 4 Employee Retention Metrics to Reduce Turnover.


Connecting the dots between HCM and recruiting

The healthcare industry faces unique recruiting and hiring challenges: a severe candidate shortage, increased employee burnout, and evolving state laws and licensing requirements. A centralized, digitized, and automated HCM system that increases visibility, data accuracy and offers overall business agility can help employers make informed decisions and streamline the recruiting process while maintaining compliance.

Click here to read this 3-page white paper on how SyncHR enables greater visibility and transparency within healthcare organizations and optimizes workforce planning while maintaining compliance.


Contact us to learn how SyncHR HCM can help make healthcare recruiting a smoother, more efficient process.



Stay Current in Your People Operations 

Especially in today’s war for talent, managing your organization’s people requires up-to-date and insightful planning and reporting capabilities.  


One of the most challenging aspects of business planning is developing a staffing plan. The plan is critical for HR to execute on recruiting and backfilling to ensure the organization has qualified individuals filling critical positions.


But even after a staffing plan is in place, many organizations lack visibility into the plan when it comes to turnover, movement among positions, new hires, etc. Business-driven decisions are difficult when you can't see real-time data to where the opening is and the analytics needed to understand the organization’s turnover. 

Once an organization has a single source for the staffing plan, the recruiting team can more effectively and proactively recruit to fill these roles. The dashboards provide the visibility needed to properly maintain this staffing plan over time. For example, if you are at 70% of your staffing plan, it is difficult to hit your sales numbers, launch a new product, etc. Having insight into an organizational chart allows leaders to easily see the gaps across teams, with regard to where there are openings. This awareness creates urgency and accountability to staff the business. 


Interested in learning more about how HCM software can help organizations measure what matters, build effective Objectives and Key Results (OKR) management methodologies, and gain the real-time visibility needed to evaluate the health of a business? Click here to reach SyncHR’s white paper.



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Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach turns cutting-edge research and data into captivating HR technology marketing content. She loves to consider the possibilities of humanizing, organizing, and minimalizing all things HR, and her writing helps HR executives and professionals develop their instincts and arrive at actionable insights for employee engagement and business performance.

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