The U.S. population is aging, and as a result, healthcare work is booming. In 2017, the healthcare industry officially surpassed both manufacturing and retail as the U.S.’s largest employer.
But despite an average monthly job growth of 24,000 workers in the sector, talent remains scarce – especially in nursing. It’s projected that by 2030, the U.S. will have over one million nursing job openings.
This poses a major opportunity for the sector to revamp and restructure its recruitment efforts. Now is the time for the industry to examine the factors that are driving worker shortages, and tackle those challenges head-on.
The state of healthcare employment: Increasing demand, decreasing supply
Since the end of the recession, healthcare jobs have been on the rise. Government subsidies and public support for the industry consistently help to make these jobs among the most secure in the country. Moreover, healthcare recruitment has also been largely unaffected by globalization and automation – both of which have hit other industries, such as manufacturing and retail.
The burgeoning healthcare sector affords a thriving environment for dedicated, skilled workers. The talent flow, however, can’t keep up. The result is a widening gap of unfilled jobs.
In order for the healthcare industry to find solutions to the worker supply-demand imbalance, it must first fully understand the reasons why the gap exists.
The source of imbalance: Healthcare workers are aging
More than half of the U.S.’s current nursing population is over 50. The group will only continue to age in the coming years, so it’s imperative that measures are taken to attract younger workers with longevity.
Unfortunately, the issue is only exacerbated by a lack of nursing school graduates. In 2016, U.S. nursing schools turned away a total of 64,067 qualified applicants from programs due to insufficient funds and resources. Among those who do graduate, a significant percentage tends to underestimate the demanding 12+ hour shifts required on the job and chooses to leave the workforce after a short time. The combination of a lack of ambitious young nurses and baby boomers retirees has led to a decrease in labor and experience.
Recruiting for the future of healthcare: Trends to watch
Addressing the hiring difficulties facing the healthcare industry today requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Institutions can make small strides towards improving on internal recruitment processes and boosting their competitive advantage.
The following practices are slowly catching on in recruitment for both nursing and other health personnel. These solutions provide a springboard for tackling the ongoing issues associated with the war for professional healthcare talent.
Providing worker flexibility
In light of dropping nursing graduation rates, employers should put extra thought into how they’ll attract younger nurses. Candidates who know they are in demand will desire more benefits, and employers who want to snag their talent need to get smart about offers. Providing flexible working conditions and scheduling can appeal to this pickier segment of the workforce. It also bodes well for hiring more experienced nurses who can bring valuable leadership skills to the table.
Salary remains a challenge to be continually addressed within healthcare. Decreasing hospital budgets paired with higher costs of living often leave plenty to be desired for potential nursing hires. Employers can make up for this by emphasizing work-life balance perks, such as non-traditional work hours, pay structures and company culture activities.
Utilizing automation for talent sourcing can optimize the more tedious and mundane processes in recruitment, allowing for more facetime with quality candidates to nurture relationships and assess long-term potential. Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) and tools can optimize every stage of the recruitment pipeline with little effort from the employer. This leaves more time for recruiters to focus on ensuring their candidates remain interested, and are best fit for the long haul.
Utilizing social media for employer branding
Connectivity spans nearly every facet of our lives, and employers within the healthcare industry can take advantage of social channels to a) shape their employer branding strategy and b) source candidates. Low unemployment rates signify the need for healthcare institutions to stand out, and there’s no better way than direct marketing and communication through popular social channels.
Bottomline: Improving upon traditional recruitment in healthcare is imperative for the future of the workforce.
In light of increased demand for healthcare professionals and a shortage of workers, healthcare recruitment is more challenging than ever before. Institutions shouldn’t shy away from getting creative with both employee sourcing and retention. Making small changes is a healthy risk now that can lead to necessary growth later.
It’s time for the healthcare industry to discern what works and what doesn’t, collaborate on further solutions and ultimately keep up with the projected increase in job demand over the coming years.
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