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When Talent Shortage is Your #1 Concern

March 9, 2017

PSI recently polled its clients with the question, "What's happening in your industry that you want to be prepared for in 2017?"  The number one response from our healthcare clients:  The shortage of talent.  Talent professionals face a variety of challenges and conflicting priorities, but finding qualified candidates is a problem they wake up with every day.

It's a perfect storm - increasing demand for services combined with critical staffing shortages in key workforce segments.  It's been building for years and seems to only get worse in many markets.  Consider the following:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the RN workforce is expected to grow from 2.71 million in 2012 to 3.24 million in 2022, an increase of 526,800 - or 19%.  The Bureau also projects the need for 525,000 replacement nurses in the workforce, bringing the total number of job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements to 1.05 million by 2022.

  • Nursing turnover rate continues to run at more than 17%, with a job vacancy rate of almost 7%.  And it takes recruiters, on average, as many as 110 days to fill empty spots.

  • While nursing is often the most pressing concern, finding qualified candidates for leadership roles, nursing support and other front line positions, and even physicians, is often a challenge.

Retention Strategies

Organizations are trying innovative programs to attract and retain staff, including RN residencies, opportunities for career development, and providing an engaging work environment, awarding raises for certifications and covering the cost to help staff get additional certifications.  Some hospitals even offer a concierge service to employees.

A Nursing "Branding" Strategy

Select International recently co-hosted a webinar with Becker's Hospital Review, "Attract and Retain Nurses to Build Your Culture - the DaVita Story."  It featured a panel discussion about not only the more common recruiting and retention strategies, but also the idea of leveraging your nursing "brand."  DaVita, one of the nation's leading providers of dialysis services, has carefully developed a unique culture that emphasizes patient outcomes, service, and fun.  They've built a very specific nursing selection system targeting people who will be successful in this culture, and then promote that nursing culture as part of its branding strategy.  Nurses who work at DaVita are proud of the culture and proud of a selective hiring process that only targets candidates who aspire to similar goals.

Selection Systems

If it's hard to find candidates, why do I need a "selection" system?

If you have a large candidate pool, and your selection ratio is positive, you think about a selection system differently.  In that case, you are trying to efficiently sift through many candidates to narrow your pool to those most likely to succeed.  But what if you are facing a talent shortage, and the selection ratio is NOT in your favor?  A selection process is important, for several reasons:

  • You want to create a positive candidate experience, so the process needs to be as user-friendly and efficient as possible.

  • If you only have 1 or 2 candidates to choose from, it becomes even more critical to make the right choice.  A mistake means you start this process all over again!

  • Once you've decided on what you are looking for, you can make an objective decision whether you want to hire that one candidate, or whether it makes sense to continue to wait.  This is a tough decision.  In some situations, you need SOMEONE to fill the role so that you can continue to provide an important service.  In these cases, it is helpful to have a better understanding of the new employee's potential strengths and weaknesses, so you can position him or her for success, provide the right type of support, and create reasonable expectations and a developmental plan.

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.