Attracting and retaining skilled professionals in the healthcare industry is more challenging than ever for both clinical and non-clinical roles. Fueled by critical factors like employee burnout, an aging registered nurse (RN) population, and a lack of training, the demand for registered nurses is outpacing supply. In fact, the global shortage of nurses could reach 13 million by 2030, according to data from the World Economic Forum.
The issue is further compounded by the fact that RNs are leaving the profession in droves. And one-third of the current RN workforce will potentially reach retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years.
Impact of the nursing shortage on the healthcare industry and patient care
Nurses interact with patients one-on-one more than any other healthcare professional, which makes their performance crucial for delivering safe care. Patient safety suffers when a nurse's time and resources are cut back. For instance, a patient's risk of infection goes up to 15% in an understaffed unit, a report from the National Library of Medicine revealed.
Healthcare facilities that don’t have enough nurses may require excessive overtime or expect their nursing staff to work double shifts, leaving them overworked and exhausted. Their ability to make fast and sound medical assessments runs the risk of being impaired as a result. This can further lead to emergency room overcrowding and increased patient mortality. Without enough nurses, healthcare facilities risk a rise in post-operative complications and cross-transmission of diseases. In addition, there is an increased risk of contamination when patients are crowded in emergency rooms and are not attended to immediately.
How can healthcare leaders attract talent during a worker shortage?
Talent leaders in the healthcare industry must seek innovative solutions that address their specific talent needs beyond offering more pay and benefits. See below for some tips on how to attract and retain healthcare talent.
Provide opportunities for career progression: Healthcare professionals want to learn and the chance to progress and develop within their careers is a key driver when considering a new role. A comprehensive learning & development program, career advancement opportunities and mentorship programs can all help organizations in healthcare to attract and retain top talent.
Consider early careers programs with educational institutions: Collaborate with educational institutions to develop early careers programs that attract talented healthcare candidates. Consider internships and attend job fairs to promote these. Sponsoring scholarships can also be a great way to get your organization in front of healthcare talent.
Update your employee value proposition (EVP): Healthcare candidates want to feel valued and respected. They want flexible schedules, a good work-life balance and the chance to make a real difference. Your EVP must appeal to today's top healthcare talent, so make sure their key drivers are considered when updating your EVP. Highlight the unique benefits of working at your organization and what sets it apart from competitors. Promote your EVP with compelling recruitment marketing content. And be sure to regularly assess your employment branding to ensure it lives up to your employee experience.
2023 Fortune 100 Employment Branding Report
Provide work-life flexibility: Nurses, like most healthcare professionals, want flexibility in how and where they work. Get creative with scheduling. Traditional 12-hour shifts are no longer compatible with the lives of today’s healthcare talent. They want the opportunity to work shorter shifts that enable a healthy work-life balance.
Launch a talent mapping program: Talent mapping allows organizations in healthcare to better understand market conditions and competitor activities to pinpoint exactly where the best healthcare talent is located. In short, talent mapping can help healthcare organizations gain a competitive advantage by providing strategic insight into competitor and candidate intelligence.
Invest in real-time labor market intelligence: Real-time labor market intelligence has fast become a priority for many organizations in the healthcare sector. Real-time labor market intelligence can help companies in healthcare improve recruiting efficiency by giving talent leaders the chance to see what’s happening in the market right now, instead of waiting several months for labor market data that’s become out of date by the time they’re able to access it. Talent teams can conduct salary benchmarking and look at what perks other healthcare organizations are offering to ensure any offers made are competitive.
The healthcare industry faces significant challenges in attracting and retaining top talent — burnout, an aging nurse population, and a lack of training, to name just a few. To overcome these obstacles, healthcare facilities need strategic talent solutions that understand the industry's specific needs.