Healthcare Recruiting

How Virtual Recruiting Helps you Conquer Healthcare Staffing Challenges

Sep 01, 2022 - Cat DiStasio

There are many challenges in healthcare recruiting today, creating complex environments for talent acquisition teams to navigate. With so many factors influencing competition for top talent, it may seem impossible to tackle everything at once. Fortunately, proven virtual recruiting strategies can do just that. By enabling healthcare TA teams to control costs and speed up the hiring process, virtual recruiting can help you crush your staffing challenges and meet your recruiting goals.

First, let’s take a look at the top challenges in the healthcare industry. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, traveling nurses offered a solution to staffing shortages and became essential for the increased need for patient care in many areas. Now, as demands on hospitals have eased, many nurses wish to continue in traveling roles due to higher pay and flexibility, and this has made it more challenging to fill full-time nurse positions with average salaries. Combined with the significant percentage of healthcare professionals who left the industry (or the workforce entirely), the applicant pool of available nurses for full-time roles has shrunk drastically.

Like many other industries, retention is a major concern in the healthcare talent landscape and, if not addressed swiftly, could contribute to future staffing challenges. Burnout, short staffing, and unsatisfactory pay or benefits have led two-thirds of nurses and nursing students to consider another profession, further contributing to high turnover rates. Without a healthy pipeline, healthcare staffing could be a growing challenge for years to come.

The challenges of hiring for non-patient care areas add to the mix. Growing staffing shortages in IT, facilities and administration make it even more difficult to compete for top talent across all roles.

These challenges contribute to a longer average time to fill a role in healthcare compared with all other industries in the U.S. As of 2022, healthcare’s average time to fill is 84 days or more—and even longer for hospital roles. Saving time and speeding up the recruiting process can help healthcare TA teams navigate multiple challenges at once.

The High Cost of Traveling Nurses

At the height of the health crisis, the demand for frontline healthcare workers skyrocketed and hospitals increased pay for traveling nurses to fill necessary patient care roles. These high rates drove up pay for other nursing positions, as hospitals struggled to keep full-time staff on board.

Now, demand and pay for traveling nurses are dropping to pre-pandemic levels according to the Wall Street Journal but the reduction in those rates may or may not trickle down to full-time nursing staff, or at least not immediately. There’s also a considerable impact on the motivation of potential candidates here. Healthcare professionals may continue to feel the allure of higher pay, increased flexibility, and more control over time off that comes with traveling nurse roles, even as the demand for those roles wanes.

At the same time, hospitals turned to temp labor as a stop-gap—that spending is up 132% per PINC—and this is a costly alternative to full-time hires. Healthcare TA teams need better ways to fill full-time positions to keep labor costs in check.

How to Attract Full-Time Healthcare Professionals

First and foremost, create an action plan to focus on your full-time roles. Here’s what your plan should encompass.

Invest in employee engagement. Perhaps the most important advice we can offer is this: Don’t neglect the staff you already have. Invest time and energy in improving the employee experience, encouraging higher employee engagement and satisfaction. Host virtual events for team-building, invest in skill development, keep a close eye on your company culture, and conduct employee feedback surveys to collect actionable insights on what employees want and need. (Hint: higher employee engagement may also help attract new talent to your recruitment process!)

Engage passive talent. Next, develop and implement strategies to engage with healthcare professionals who may not be actively looking for a new job at your healthcare facility—yet. There are many simple tactics for sourcing and engaging with passive candidates, and many of them can run alongside your efforts to engage with active talent.

Tell organizational culture stories. Leverage culture stories throughout your virtual recruiting efforts—with content on your careers site and social media, the language in your job postings, and your virtual recruiting events. Host informational events and spotlight employee stories, host virtual Q&A sessions with leadership, and create content with virtual site tours and previews of the day-to-day job. Many candidates (passive and active alike) enjoy virtual hiring events that invite them to build connections and interact with your culture, such as events led by your Employee Resource Groups. Hearing culture stories and seeing your culture operate firsthand helps set your organization apart from your competition.

Highlight mental health and wellness programs. Knowing that stress and burnout are major concerns for healthcare professionals, TA teams need to let candidates know how your organization cares for your employees in very factual terms. Share the specific services, resources, and attractive benefits you currently offer (as well as those you plan to offer in the future), and tell candidates how your organization helps employees manage stress and avoid burnout. Showing that you really care about your employees' well-being through your actions and offerings isn't just the right thing to do, but it simply makes good business sense.

Use virtual recruiting. Virtual recruiting and virtual events speed up the process and make it easier and more convenient—not just for your healthcare recruiter team but for candidates, too. There are many different ways in which healthcare organizations can incorporate virtual events into their hiring strategy to speed things up without sacrificing the candidate experience—and virtual career fairs are just the tip of the iceberg. We encourage employers to host virtual screening events for large numbers of candidates, and then invite pre-qualified candidates for in-person tours and interviews. AdventHealth successfully uses this hybrid recruiting strategy to screen hundreds of nurse candidates online before moving prequalified candidates through their in-person recruiting steps.

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Expand your benefits package and other perks. This part is deceptively simple. Find out which benefits healthcare talent want the most and find ways to deliver them. Offering more flexible schedules and shift options, expanding PTO, and looking for other ways to help all your employees balance work and life according to their preferences and needs can help make your full-time positions as attractive as the lure of traveling nurse roles.

Invest in career advocacy. How is your organization proactively working to advocate for working in the healthcare field for college and high school students who are choosing a career path? Local nursing students should be able to answer this question about your organization. You can use a virtual event platform to educate and engage students in local schools and universities about yourself and your most strategic healthcare roles, as a complement and even a pipeline strategy to your early-career hiring.

Foundational Recruiting Strategies for Future Challenges

There may never come a day when recruiting quality candidates in healthcare is “easy.” The good news is that the steps your team takes today—developing smart healthcare recruiting strategies and implementing technology to streamline and speed up hiring—can equip you for the challenges that lie ahead. With flexible, scaleable tools like a virtual events platform and recruiting software, your team will be well prepared to respond to any talent acquisition hurdles that arise in this competitive market. And since the same platform helps support employee engagement and improves retention, your organization can enjoy even more benefits without managing a separate platform or incurring additional expenses in your holistic healthcare recruitment plan.

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