The healthcare recruiting industry faces widespread talent gaps and shortages that are expected to grow worse over the coming years. Staffing shortage remains a critical challenge for the NHS and according to the article published by healtheuropa.eu, there are now 106,000 vacancies across the NHS in England, with over 44,000 vacancies in nursing.
A report by the Health Foundation last year highlighted significant shortages in the supply of NHS staff against demand, with reducing numbers in areas such as primary and community care, nursing and mental health.
Given the current scenario, several healthcare workers are under tremendous pressure to ensure patient safety, whilst ensuring their safety as well. With this massive supply-demand gap, how can healthcare recruiting organisations overcome these challenges is to find the talent they need?
Below, we list six strategies to optimize healthcare recruiting practices in the face of these challenges.
1.UNLEASH THE POWER OF TECH
With the growth in tech platforms over the years, it has become easier for both healthcare recruiters and candidates to collaborate.
Advances in technology have profoundly improved time-to-fill metrics, making the entire recruitment process simpler and easier and improving cost efficiency and bottom-line results. Technology is bridging the geographical gaps, helping healthcare organisations meet candidates on mobile devices, anytime, anywhere. After all, more and more candidates are switching to mobile devices to find jobs.
Many progressive UK healthcare recruitment agencies introduced their own apps integrated with ATS back in the year 2015/16. The app consisted of jobs and candidate details. Every candidate has access to the app where they can match jobs as per their preference, update their availability, etc. In one case, the agency booked circa 20% shifts just via their app.
Mobile devices make the recruitment process ubiquitous for both candidate and healthcare recruitment agency. Recent advancements in technology can help healthcare organizations adopt a mobile-centric approach to capitalize on the surge of mobile devices in job search and application to gain the advantage of this trend.
For an industry distressed with less number of candidates, candidate care must come naturally. Meaning, their queries on compliance, timesheets and payroll are resolved with attention to detail. One of the major gripes of candidates within the healthcare sector is either not being paid on time or inaccurate pay.
Candidates mainly care about the following.
- Onboarding; i.e. when newly registered
- Having a dedicated account manager
- Clarity and information on compliance levels
- Availability of jobs
- Returning candidate calls
- Getting paid on time
- Payroll – No hidden costs
Sending the registration pack with all the details at once. Simple steps like scheduling a call to discuss the process, introduction to the account manager, etc. play a significant role in developing trust and confidence in the candidate. Updating candidates on a certain shift, returning their calls, etc. are the indicators of a good candidate care process.
Updating the candidate in case there is a change in shift or cancellation is imperative. Failing to inform the candidate in such situations can cause major dissatisfaction, can also lead to losing the candidate to another agency And/or financial impact where the candidate has to be compensated for either travel or part of the revenue margin.
An efficient in-house or outsourced process combined with tech, addressing all these factors improves candidate satisfaction. Increase in fill rate is the overall outcome.
3.KNOW YOUR CANDIDATES
One of the major complaints that supersede after their payroll gripe is being matched and sent jobs which they don’t want to go for. It is imperative for the Account Manager or the healthcare recruiter to know the needs of their candidates.
Candidates have a specific preference that as per their grade and speciality, they will only work certain jobs, in the respective region; i.e. 20 miles of their location, respective pay rates, hospitals they’d want to work in, etc. This information is mostly discovered when the candidate is registered with the agency.
Despite this fact, there are times when the situation is otherwise and candidates are emailed jobs that don’t meet their preference. Situations like this also occur when there is a change in the Account Manager or recruiter as a part of the process in many healthcare recruitment agencies.
Effective use of ATS mitigates this risk when detailed information about the candidate preference is noted.
Also, every healthcare recruiter has a certain bandwidth. Ensuring they have limited candidates on their bank to place helps them in memorising tiny bit of information for every Nurse, Doctor or a Carer they work with.
Knowing your candidates significantly impacts the candidate care process in both filling shifts and candidate retention.
One of the major factors impacting the shift bookings is the availability of candidates. More the availability of compliant candidates, higher the probability of increasing the bookings and generating better margins.
But, how does this work?
A vicious cycle, when candidates are either newly registered or booked into shifts, recruiters can take the availability and their rota for respective timeline. Healthcare recruitment agencies with large databases can deploy dedicated staff or hours per day to reach out to the candidates to check their availability.
Many progressive healthcare recruitment companies identified this gap back in the year 2015/16 and introduced their own app where candidates can update their availability.
It is imperative for every healthcare recruiter to know where their candidates are currently working and when they are available for the next shifts, when have they planned their holidays, etc.
This is also a part of KYC (Know your candidate) process. Missing on the availability has a massive impact of not only losing the margin on missed shift, but also losing candidate to another agency, indirectly, impacting the bottom line.
Everyone working in healthcare recruitment knows the importance of compliance. An utmost important process where human life is involved. There have been a number of instances in the past on the damage caused by non-compliant healthcare workers.
Dedicated compliance teams, mostly a standard operating process in most agencies are a cornerstone for every healthcare recruitment business. One can also say, “A healthcare recruiting agency is only as good as its compliance team”.
With over forty documents to manage right from new candidate registration to ongoing maintenance, compliance officers have a mammoth task to execute day-in-day-out. Operating on excel sheets is a no-go and can result in major errors. Signal based ATS has come to rescue for the last several years.
Maintaining core compliance is imperative, especially when it comes to Updated CV with no gaps, References as per framework criteria, DBS, Right to Work (RTW) and Fitness to Work (FTW). Ensuring that candidates are updated well in advance before the expiry of the respective document; For e.g., if it takes six weeks time for the DBS to be processed, candidates must be updated 12 weeks in advance giving them enough time to follow-thru’ the entire process.
Hence, compliance officers must know the timeline for every document expiry and renewal to act in a most efficient way not only to maintain the compliancy levels, but also the impact compliance process has on overall fill rate and the business performance.
Availability details and compliancy levels of candidates can be significantly improved when candidates are contacted in out of hours and over the weekends. Candidates are available for a catch-up during out of normal business hours and weekends, not every agency has this type of cover. Having one of the compliance officers covers this shift or an outsourced team member working on compliance during these hours helps in improving compliance levels.
6.NEW CANDIDATE PIPELINE:
Being proactive is one of the keys to success in healthcare recruiting. Healthcare recruitment agencies should work towards building strategic talent pipelines that cover both regional and national talent pools meeting their client requirement.
How can one develop a new candidate pipeline in an industry which is already facing dire supply-demand gap?
While there is no magic wand that can generate candidates, effective utilisation of the following sources can help.
Referrals: There is no other marketing like word of mouth. Healthcare recruiting agencies have followed this route for years and also achieved the desired outcome. Reaching out to existing candidates with an attractive referral scheme helps agencies source new candidates at a fraction of cost compared to other modes of sourcing and generating new candidates.
Internal database: Many healthcare recruiting businesses have thousands of candidates on their ATS. In my experience of consulting and working with leading UK healthcare recruitment agencies, hardly 20% of the database is worked upon; i.e. not fully utilised. What happens to the rest of the candidates on the system?
Recruiters are focused on hitting their sales targets. Compliance teams are immersed in ensuring high levels of compliance to ensure business continuity. In this scenario, Resourcers can be tasked to regenerate candidates or this process can be outsourced for database mining as per the agency’s requirement; i.e. job flow, regional, etc.
Dedicated database regeneration or cleansing enables the agency to identify new workers at no extra cost of job posting or subscribing to a job board. Even generating one matching candidate per day can have a significant impact on the margins.
Job Boards: A no brainer and first point of attack for every recruitment business to source new candidates. Training the resourcer and recruiters to source candidates using Boolean strings and other methodologies help.
Setting up watchdogs for every new CV posted where the CV automatically is sent out to the ATS or inbox has helped recruiters for years. Dedicated sourcing and candidate generation teams in the out of hours enable recruitment agencies in staying ahead of the competition and reaching out to the candidates on a real-time basis (in sociable hours).
Posting jobs across various job boards and social media platforms create a pull factor as well. Reaching out to the candidates within a tight timeline ensures the candidate works with the agency. “Fastest finger first” should be the norm in a fact-paced locum recruitment industry. Source, Contact, Qualify should be the mantra.
Healthcare recruiting businesses will need to implement structured processes and systems to meet the constantly increasing demand for healthcare workers.
A strategy to sustain, survive and thrive in this highly competitive sector is a must. Innovative solutions like an investment in tech and partnering with offshore recruitment company enable healthcare recruitment business owners to grow and further develop their business.