Ways healthcare organizations are pivoting their recruitment and hiring approaches to overcome the global pandemic’s challenges.
By Debbie Bolla
With the Bureau of Labor Statistics already projecting the healthcare market to grow by 8.4 million jobs by 2028, COVID-19 has caused an even more pressing need for the right talent at the right time. Shannon Levesque, vice president of talent acquisition and workforce planning for Boston Children’s Hospital, is no stranger to this pressure. She says that during the pandemic, keeping employees engaged with opportunities for full employment has been a main priority.
“Repurposing our internal mobility team to focus on redeployment of workers across the enterprise has been key for our organization,” she explains. “Our ‘Talent Acquisition Internal Mobility Team’ has played a key role in that. With our partners in HRIS and in the business, we created a system to identify workers with time to give and matched them to appropriate jobs where vacancies and opportunities were prevalent.”
Staci Roberts, executive vice president for Cielo Healthcare, agrees that COVID-19 has forced many organizations to find ways to maximize existing staff, shifting workers into open roles that allow them to grow new skills while filling a business need. Healthcare networks leveraging these approaches experience the additional benefits of cost savings, quicker onboarding, and reduced training time.
Getting creative certainly has paid off for many healthcare systems. Curtis Grajeda, founder and managing partner of LevelUP, gives another example. He says that before the onset of the pandemic, home healthcare positions were in high demand. But as stay-at-home orders were enforced, these roles experienced a steep decline in need, freeing up many workers who could pivot to much-needed, in-hospital positions.
Other outside-of-the-box strategies have helped get frontline workers to where they are needed the most—and quickly. Roberts says that it’s not uncommon to engage with “recently retired nurses and clinical staff, silver medalist candidates from previous searches, and past voluntary terminations to help hire and onboard expertise in an expedited fashion.”
In fact, she says a regional Midwestern health network leverages proactive sourcing campaigns for targeted communities of qualified past employees and candidates. By reengaging a previously-engaged group, HR leaders can expedite the process with efficiency.
Another large community healthcare system looks to contingent labor to scale up quickly. “We worked with them to expand our management of contingent labor for several clinical roles,” Roberts explains. “We also began overseeing the support for background and credential checks as well as payrolling on behalf of the organization. Integrating these new strategies into the overall RPO partnership helped to ensure an efficient process and experience for both candidates and hiring managers.”
Healthcare organizations in hot spot New York still need to consider the candidate and employee experience as demand for workers continues to skyrocket. “We encourage employers to be highly flexible with hours and days worked, and build competitive benefits packages for employees and their loved ones,” Grajeda says. “Many of the nurses already held full-time positions, so this was their second or third job and, therefore, a non-traditional work schedule was key to securing talent.”
Even when filling roles in a more traditional way, healthcare organizations now have to step outside the norm when possible, opting for tech-driven approaches in lieu of face-to-face interactions.
“Video interviewing has been widely adopted by the organization, allowing recruitment to continue seamlessly for our open positions,” says Boston Children’s Levesque. Roberts agrees that video interviewing has led to a marked improvement in hiring time and candidate satisfaction for many organizations.
“Candidates can complete an interview at their own convenience, and it removes the challenge of scheduling an initial screen with the recruiter,” Roberts explains. “Many workers in healthcare, especially nurses, have unique working hours. On-demand video interviewing provides additional flexibility for these candidates, but it’s also beneficial to the TA teams and hiring managers, allowing them to review these recordings and videos during off hours.”
Levesque says that technology has played a positive role in onboarding as well. “Our onboarding team has been leveraging digital solutions and technology in an effort to take advantage of the revised I-9 guidance for onboarding remote workers during the pandemic.”
Virtual onboarding provides organizations with many benefits, including eliminating the need for in-person interaction, which speeds up the process and helps organizations maintain compliance with the digital completion and tracking of new hire forms. “This requires systems to work closely with their legal departments to understand what steps in the background screening process are required for a new hire to start working and what important forms and documents can be completed either via email or web-based platforms,” explains Roberts.
In addition to supply and demand and hiring challenges, healthcare organizations are also facing lifestyle obstacles caused by the pandemic: stay-at-home orders, closed schools, and overall uncertainty.
“COVID’s impact to working parents has been significant and the risk of the need to continue on with unpredictable, hybrid school schedules for the foreseeable future puts a continued strain on our workforce,” says Levesque. “Expanded daycare partnerships and benefit strategies can help, as well as offering flexible scheduling and remote work options.”
“Systems have needed to adapt to provide additional resources and incentives to employees and candidates,” agrees Roberts. “Some systems have set up daycare centers to care for the children of employees since many daycare facilities closed with the spread of the pandemic.”
And with the pressing demands of the highly contagious coronavirus on the medical community, employee stress is another factor organizations need to consider.
“There’s the general concern of potential burnout for healthcare employees the longer the pandemic goes on,” says Roberts. “Health systems will need to continue balancing these unique talent concerns with the fact that as the most essential industry, it’s critical for them to keep delivering quality care.”
This is already on Levesque’s radar. “Wellness and employee assistance programs are seeing an increase in participation as employees look for ways to restore their resiliency and self-care routines.”