By: Hannah Swei and Manny Rodriguez
It is without question that the social normalcies and daily life as we have grown accustomed to, have dramatically changed with the birth of COVID-19 in the year 2020. A pandemic that the world has never seen nor anticipated to be a reality in these modern times, has caused significant changes in multiple facets within our society. In particular, the direct correlation of supply and demand has been significantly impacted, with the demand for supplies such as testing kits, ventilators, and medication increasingly rising throughout the span of this year. However, one of the greatest demands would be for the recruitment of frontline healthcare workers. Following in pattern with the theme of a “year full of changes” the field of healthcare recruitment has certainly been revamped to meet clients’ new and increased needs. The recruitment techniques that may have previously worked pre-COVID may no longer be as effective with these new changes and an even more competitive market. Therefore, key factors of recruitment during these uncertain times that must be prioritized, are efficiency, short and long-term incentives, and the willingness to provide new graduates opportunities.
Although time is money, time also kills deals, with a struggle to keep facilities well-staffed with quality healthcare professionals, it is essential for all involved parties to move as efficiently as possible. This is not to say that the quality of sourcing and interviewing candidates should be compromised but screening candidates and facilitating interview steps should be done more efficiently and as quickly as possible. All organizations must keep in mind that while a candidate may be interviewing with them and seem excited about their opportunity, the same candidate is more than likely having similar discussions with 2-3 other facilities, if not more. And while a candidate may prefer one opportunity over another, if their favored potential employer is taking weeks to return a decision after the interview process has expeditiously been coordinated and concluded, the candidate may choose to go with a secondary choice to ensure they have a job even if it isn’t their top preference.
Furthermore, during these unprecedented times, both current employees and incoming new hires, must be treated well and correctly incentivized. Frontline healthcare workers put themselves in danger daily and work long hours wearing layers of PPE, some even leaving bruises, scars, and marks on their bodies from wearing them for long extended periods of time. If these medical professionals are willingly making the sacrifices to continue providing patient care while placing themselves at elevated risk levels, how an employer should treat workers such as these is extremely important. How an employer treats their staff members, especially during difficult times is very telling on their true values and if they truly are an organization founded on teamwork and employee appreciation. Therefore, a facility that boasts “teamwork” and “family” must truly strive to maintain these principles even more so as their organization’s health is dependent on keeping workers motivated and content with being employed at their respective facilities. Words with no actions at the end of the day are only empty promises and false claims, during these uncertain times, there have unfortunately, been many healthcare professionals that have been jaded by their employers and vice versa.
Stories such as medical staff being laid off or forced to resign because they got COVID and couldn’t return to work quickly enough, being fired after working 80 – 140-hour shifts, and taking care of 9 patients at a time, half of which all have COVID with little to no help, have occurred far too many times this year. To deal with the challenges of recruitment in COVID times, it is critical to treat all personnel with respect and consideration, and instead of forcing staff to work unpopular shifts or to take on an extra shift, by offering incentives whether that be monetary compensation, increase in PTO accrual rates, etc., staff members will more likely want to put in the extra hours and continue to do more beyond their assigned scope of general responsibilities.
It is very well understood that during this state of emergency, experienced healthcare professionals that come trained in certain specialties, are highly preferred and possibly maybe even required for most open opportunities. Even in cases not surrounded by the consideration of COVID, experienced personnel are more likely to gain employment than a newly graduated healthcare professional. However, the facilities that are open to long-term growth and training programs will not only begin to address a staffing shortage, but also be more likely to gain long-term employees. Perhaps the greatest fear many facilities have is training people to leave them, as sad as it sounds, it is tragic when an employer invests so much into an employee only for them to take the next highest paying job they are offered after only a year or two of employment. Nevertheless, that is only one side of the coin, there are also facilities and employers that boast of the growth and development they have provided their employees. The healthcare professionals that just need a chance to prove themselves and work their ways from the bottom to the top will benefit not only themselves, but the right employer that provided them the opportunity to do so when no one else would in the long run.
Ultimately, every hire is a risk, so focus should be placed on minimizing the possibility of short-term employments through retainment techniques and assessing the right type of candidate to take a chance on. Moreover, those with years of experience can be just as likely to leave and may even more inclined to leave as experienced medical professionals are constantly being targeted. Skills can be taught to an individual, but character, dedication, and values cannot, even with the chaos brought on by this pandemic, it is essential to keep prioritizing how to establish better recruitment strategies for both critical immediate staffing needs and retainment for long-term employment solutions.
The year 2020 has certainly been a year overwhelming with changes, and with the key factors such as efficiency, employee incentives, and the openness of facilities to take on newly graduated healthcare professionals, may very well benefit their respective organizations for the better. The key to efficiency in maneuvering through an interview and on-boarding process is to also keep in mind that potential candidates have their own personal lives and responsibilities that require them to have employment. By prolonging their time to hear back (if there is serious interest) they will more than likely move onto an employer that offered them a similar opportunity as unfortunate as it may be. It is very rare for a candidate to hold off answering other job offers to wait and hear back on even a preferred position as it runs the chances of them not having any employment at the end of the day if they keep the other potential employers waiting too long. Employee incentives are critical to motivate and demonstrate to critical workers that they are valued and appreciated for their sacrifices. Employees after all, are the ones that make up a facility and will determine the quality of care the facility can boast for their patients. Happy employees will also want to do a good job if they feel that they are treated well and not simply “replaceable.” And finally, newly graduated healthcare professionals should not be so easily dismissed.
Experience is only possible with provided opportunities while skills can be taught and improved overtime but finding the individuals that can bring more than just medical provisions to an organization are invaluable. At some point in time, every experienced healthcare professional was provided an opportunity to prove their worth and to be successful, during these uncertain times, a novice medical provider that is provided the chance to prove themselves will express more gratitude and commitment to better themselves for their respective organizations.