Employee Retention, Hiring & Recruiting

Hospitals Face Critical Talent Shortage

A new survey report highlights the seriousness of the ongoing talent shortage in the hospital industry.

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The report title says it all: Talent Acquisition Strategies & Results Hospital Recruiting & Hiring: The Candidates Don’t Exist.

Widespread Challenges

The research, conducted by Leaders for Today (LFT), a leading management staffing firm for hospitals, finds that the talent shortage is affecting hospitals, regardless of size and location. It also finds that while hospitals may take a different approach to recruiting depending on location, general size, and number of beds, each faces the same shortage of qualified talent and the current recruiting environment isn’t helping.

More than 200 healthcare leaders shared a variety of perspectives and opinions around recruiting and hiring. Representatives from urban medical centers to critical access hospitals were included in the survey. Hospitals range in size from less than 25 to 1,000+ beds, and encompass individuals in leadership positions, including the C-suite, clinical and non-clinical administration, and human resources.

“The findings tell us is that there simply isn’t enough qualified talent to go around and that frustration levels are rising,” said Bill Haylon, CEO of Leaders for Today. “No matter how many HR people hospitals have on staff to recruit and retain employees, significant gaps exist. In general, hospital HR teams have too much on their plates and this data raises questions as to whether available time is being allocated properly.”

Causes for Concern

When asked to summarize their organization’s current recruiting situation, nearly one-third, 31 percent, of respondents say they can’t find enough candidates. However, the issue is even more problematic than it first appears. Almost one-quarter of respondents, 24 percent, indicate that while HR may move quickly, the qualifications of the new hires are questionable – raising the question as to whether hospitals are lowering the bar to fill longstanding vacant positions.

There is also a question as to whether hospitals are being penny wise and pound foolish. Sixty-two percent of hospital-based HR recruiters handle 10 or more searches at any given time, while 27 percent handle 20 or more. These are heavy workloads for any recruiter, LFT notes.

And then there is the time factor. Seventy-four percent of searches for hospital leaders (managers and above) take more than four months to fill and 35 percent take longer than seven months, leaving far too many vacancies. LFT points out that there is bound to be an impact on a hospital’s profitability and quality in critical service lines when missing leadership for such prolonged periods.

“The healthcare industry can have a here and now mentality when it comes to dealing with human capital problems,” says Haylon. “Too often the focus is on solving the problems of today and worrying about tomorrow, tomorrow. In a business that is based primarily on human talent, this approach can be short-sighted.”

Recruiting Not the Only Issue

To that end, when asked to rank the top priorities for their organization’s HR team, employee retention and related issues like career development and improving organizational culture rank low in terms of priorities. Responses serve to reinforce LFT’s findings from an early survey report: Current practices aren’t effective in addressing employee retention.