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Why Hospitals Are Having A Major Problem With Recruitment

Baby Boomers have had a significant impact on the economy throughout their lives. And now that this large portion of the population is presently aged 55 and older, we are seeing the “boom” hit the health care industry, with a greater need for health care workers. Other factors, like longer life expectancies, the obesity crisis, and growing rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes are driving the demand for more workers, which is causing additional hospital hiring problems. It's a double-edged sword: not only does it take longer to fill a position, which is more costly, but it is also harder to find qualified candidates.

Jobs Are Growing Faster Than They Can Be Filled

According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data, health care support occupations have been ranked as the fastest growing job sector, expected to grow by 23.6 percent over 10 years, while health care practitioners and technical occupations are expected to grow 15.3 percent over 10 years—both much faster than the average. In fact, more than one-third of the fastest growing occupational groups fall within the health care industry.

It’s no surprise then that hospitals are seeing major recruitment problems, particularly when it comes to getting qualified candidates. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing suggests that schools of nursing, for example, have struggled to expand capacity to keep pace with the demand for nurses. The availability of nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level, as well as nurses with advanced graduate degrees, fall far short of current needs.

According to a survey from the staffing firm Leaders for Today, which surveyed hospital administrators, executives, and HR heads on their staffing issues, the most significant problem facing hospital recruitment teams is that they cannot find enough candidates. Given that demand is growing faster than the workforce, this, of course, makes sense. The survey found that this situation is true regardless of hospital size or their recruitment strategy.

Industry Turnover Is High

The data conducted by the RN Work Project, which surveys new nurses and career changes, shows that 17.9 percent of new nurses leave their job within one year. Because turnover is multi-factored and sometimes good (when an unqualified person leaves their position) and sometimes bad (when a qualified employee who performs well voluntarily leaves), the best prescription for how to decrease turnover remains unclear. What is clear is that high turnover rates are expensive for hospitals. Thus, the dilemma in hospital recruitment for HR departments both big and small stems from two important indexes: keeping quality-of-hire up and keeping time-to-hire down.

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Recruitment Costs Are Debilitating

The time and cost associated with filling open positions are perceived to be mostly inefficient within the industry, according to the Leaders for Today survey. The most costly vacancies are at senior leadership levels, which may affect a hospital’s profitability and overall efficiency in providing more expensive services like surgery. It most often ranges from four to six months to hire these “hard-to-fill” positions.

In terms of cost-per-hire, staff leadership positions at mid-to-large sized hospitals (ranging from more than 100 beds to more than 1,000 beds) most often range from $10,000 to $30,000. For senior leadership in large hospitals of more than 250 beds, it most commonly costs more than $30,000. With the overall shortage of candidates within the industry, the process of getting quality candidates quickly suffers—and both of these factors affect costs as well as turnover.

Departments Should Focus On What They Can Improve

Given that the cards are stacked against them, issues within recruitment teams are important to resolve. Some have too many open positions assigned to any one team member. Another commonly cited complaint in staffing has to do with specific knowledge gaps in the HR department regarding what a position actually requires. The more specialized and technical the position, the more the HR team has to understand the needs of the open role.

Given that the industry as a whole has staffing problems, competition is high. HR teams need to streamline the process with appropriate technology and staff HR departments sufficiently in order to meet hiring demands. In the short term, reducing turnover of well-qualified candidates through better employee retention measures can be a salve to stanch the bleeding.

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