March 15,  2021

Back To Talent Tide Podcast Page


This week, we’re sharing a special episode in which Chris talks with Debbie Bolla, VP and Editorial Director of HRO Today Magazine, as a guest on her educational podcast. 
As healthcare leaders face burnout from clinical staff, Chris dives deep into how healthcare companies can retain and recruit more effectively in a post COVID-19 world.


Debbie  00:21

Welcome to another HRO Today educational podcast. In this series, we aim to provide you the latest workforce management approaches and best practices in HR. I’m Debbie Bolla, the Editorial Director of HRO Today magazine.  The COVID19 pandemic has posed challenges to nearly all organizations and many healthcare organizations have been at the heart of the global crisis. High demand has led to supply shortages, especially when it comes to nurses. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 11 million additional nurses are needed to avoid a further shortage and long pressing hours have caused worker wellbeing to become a major concern. A survey from Mental Health America supports this with 76% of respondents reporting exhaustion and burnout and 75% saying they are overwhelmed. So how can healthcare organizations succeed in this challenging environment? And what are ways HR can leverage in order to attract, recruit, and retain these essential workers? Today, I have an expert here with me who will offer some insight. Chris Nichols is Vice President of Marketing for endevis. endevis is a people-first technology driven organization dedicated to optimizing and scaling the recruitment process. From enterprise solutions to on demand recruitment, endevis’ team works across the healthcare, manufacturing, supply chain, finance, and tech industries. Chris, thanks for joining me. How should healthcare organizations pivot their recruitment strategies to be successful in today’s market?

Chris  01:52

Well, that’s a great place to start, Debbie, because I think when the general public thinks about healthcare, the majority of us think about hospitals. And while that is a significant portion of the healthcare industry, the healthcare industry is much broader than that. We have everything from skilled nursing facilities to managed care and home health and telehealth now, which has exploded in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And on top of that, physician clinics and physician offices and outpatient surgery, and there’s so many different facets of healthcare that we as consumers don’t think about. And so, when we think about how they should be pivoting their strategies, it really comes back to being proactive, at endevis about 50% of our clients are in healthcare. What we’re constantly working with them to achieve is a level of preparedness in in focusing on workforce planning, and understanding where they have challenges today, and where they could have challenges in the future and being proactive in our recruitment strategies. For us, a lot of our clients, when we onboard them, we find that they have a reactive strategy overall to recruitment. Opening occurs, we start recruiting, and that’s just not the way that an effective TA team recruits. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, TA almost always ends up being one of the first things to go. What we encourage is to have an active social media strategy, making sure that people understand who you are. Videos work great, especially in healthcare, because it shows empathy and compassion for people. And it shows them in their work environment. It shows them what the facility looks like. Because oftentimes, when we go to health care facilities, it kind of has a negative connotation. As a consumer, when you go in, you’re not really looking at what the environment’s like because you’re typically there hoping to come away feeling better than you arrived. That’s where the videos come into play. So, I think the more video that can be used to describe the workplace. Authenticity plays a significant role as well, Debbie, and showing videos of interviews with current employees, I think that’s extremely valuable as well. So just some authenticity, really. And I think that’s where it really shows in clinical authenticity, not just the CEO giving his or her stump speech, but an RN, from the med surg unit, talking about what it means to her to work there, a nurse manager and why they’ve been at the organization for so long. Those are the types of things that start to humanize the workplaces. And to be honest, that helps with retention and engagement as well, because the more people talk about what a great place to work it is, the more people believe it, right. And I think sometimes we get stuck around the idea of “Well, our scheduling isn’t great, or there’s this negative issue over here and that negative issue over there.” And as employees, we start to dwell on the negatives, right, but the more that we hear and see ourselves, the organization talking positively and talking about their vision, it puts it out there for people, the more that people hear it, the more that it can be believed and the more that people want to be a part of that.

Debbie  04:50

That’s a good transition to my next question. How should healthcare organizations emphasize their employer brands and their position as an employer of choice?

Chris  04:58

You’re right that is perfect transition. A lot of organizations aren’t quite sure what employer brand is. I would use a Jeff Bezos quote, it’s going to be paraphrased here, but essentially, he says, “Your brand is whatever people are saying about you.” When we talk about healthcare organizations, you have consumers that are potentially talking about you. And you have the largest number of your employees population, which is often nurses. Nurses talk to each other across organizations, and they share with other people what it’s like to work there. On the consumer side, they do the same thing. So, if I have a bad consumer experience as a patient, or as a family member of a patient at a hospital or any other clinical setting, I probably tell people about that. The healthcare industry has very high standards, obviously, as they should. But what that means is that anything negative that could occur could come back to hurt you. Organizations have to be proactive about those types of things. And I think that’s where customer service comes and plays a significant role. So those things are more on the training side of the organization, because like Bezos said, if you are what people say about you, if that’s what your brand is, then no matter what you say about yourself, it doesn’t correlate to what people are saying about you. That’s where it’s going to affect your recruiting and how you’re going about it, having a proactive strategy to train your team members on customer service, as well as patient preparedness and understanding how to talk to patients and family members and being compassionate and empathetic. That’s the start of your employer brand. The other aspect of it is working with your marketing department. So often, it’s not just healthcare companies, it’s companies across the board. There’s not a lot of conversations that take place between marketing and HR/Recruiting. Oftentimes, talent acquisition teams are left to do these things on their own. And I would argue that in talent acquisition and HR, your best friend, in a siloed part of the organization should be marketing, because whatever that you can do to walk across the aisle and talk to them about brand and enhancing what you’d like to be able to say your organization is – they’re going to be a big fan of that. Marketers love to get creative. They love to build strategy. And so, they’re always looking for supporters within the organization. When we think about employer brand, I think it’s really important for COOs and Chief Nursing Officers to work with HR, and for HR to work with Marketing, because they all have to work together as a cohesive unit, none of those silos in the organization are going to be able to fix or share what an employer brand is alone. They just don’t have the capabilities to do that. And so, it requires Operations, HR, TA, and Marketing working together to establish brand guidelines, brand influence and understand who the organization is and why employees and potential employees would want to work there.

Debbie  05:30

So Chris, some healthcare sectors are facing the issue of supply and demand. What are some creative ways organizations can find an attractive candidate?

Chris  07:04

You’re absolutely right – supply and demand is a huge challenge for healthcare companies today. In my opinion, 2021 – it’s only going to worsen. And much of that has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. How to locate those employees is really going to come down to looking back at your employer brand and understanding what people are saying about you and what people are saying in the marketplace. Because at the end of the day, there is a shortage of people. And so, what we have to do as an organization is look at where we’re coming up short and start to repair those broken relationships with not only our current employees, but with past prospects. So, people that have been through the organization before – maybe they’ve been through the hiring process and didn’t get hired. And so, in most areas, there is a supply of nurses. And if you look at where they’re working at, it typically comes down to a couple of things, flexibility with scheduling, flexibility, and mobility within the workplace. One of the biggest challenges healthcare has is its kind of relatively flat nature that once you’re an RN, you’re an RN for the next 40 years. And while that’s not necessarily the case, because there are different levels of nurse supervisors and managers, I don’t know that organizations do a good enough job at this moment in time, of sharing those career paths with their current staff. And so, talking to nurses about what opportunities exist within the workplace, and being cognizant of sharing those opportunities with them in the present and preparing their teams for that growth. Because if you’re not preparing people for the next step, as they get bored or get frustrated with their current job, they’re gonna start looking elsewhere. Whereas if you’re preparing them for growth, they’re more likely to stick around, and the longer they stick around, the more likely they are to be a champion of your brand, and tell other people what it’s like to come work there. And so, you can see how a snowball effect would start to take place. Happy employees mean that your TA team is going to have more people that are being referred to them, which makes the time to hire go down. It makes your quality of hire typically go up and it reduces the workload as well on your TA team. Fixing the culture problem and establishing some simple guidelines for career paths, how those two things can help enhance your ability to recruit which means that from a supply and demand perspective, it’s going to help you be an employer of choice in your current market.

Debbie  10:13

Clearly, it’s been a challenging time for healthcare workers facing the COVID-19 pandemic, how can communicating benefits and employee wellbeing be a competitive advantage during the hiring process?

Chris  10:23

You know, benefits and wellbeing are probably more important than they’ve ever been. And as I was mentioning earlier in our conversation, Debbie, the idea that a flexible workplace has become so common across so many other industries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, that healthcare is probably the one that has remained the least unchanged. And what I think can help any healthcare organization is being transparent, but also working with their staff to think creatively. I would argue that most hospitals are scheduling people and hiring and talking about what jobs are very similar to the way they were 10 years ago, which was similar to the way they were talking about 20 years ago, and 30 years ago, 12 hour shifts three days a week, or four days a week, 10 hour shifts, etc. and not having a lot of options for people really puts hospitals and healthcare organizations in a difficult position. Because you have telehealth companies that are now ramping up, you have home health companies. And so, when we think about the nurse population, we know that demographically it’s much greater female to male ratio. And we also know that females are more likely to seek out a more flexible work schedule if they have children. When you throw those things in there, you tend to have a gap, unfortunately, of kind of mid-career professionals, because a lot of hospitals, they do a great job of making new hires. And then you have a group of people who their kids are out of the house. And so, they’ve reentered the workforce, or they’ve gone back to hospital settings. So, they have an experienced group of nurses and they have an inexperienced group, but in the middle, they’re lacking the stability that they would like to have, I think of mid-career professionals. So, if we can think about benefits as not just being health insurance and retirement for once and start thinking about how important it is to think about the lives that people live today. And the fact that they would like to have the flexibility to work different schedules dependent upon the lives that they have their children and managing that part of their work life, I think that organizations would do a much better job retaining that talent. Because if they don’t offer different options, these people then go seek out more flexible opportunities. So, they work telehealth where they have the flexibility to hop on for two hours in the afternoon. And then they can you know, go take care of whatever chores or things that they have to take care of at home. And then they can hop back on in the afternoon or evening for a couple more hours and work. and home health is often very similar. And I think that the more that healthcare companies can be flexible with their work environment, that’s a benefit that they don’t take advantage of nearly enough. And so just thinking creatively talking to your employees about what benefits matter to them. That’s another piece of the equation that I think is really important. Oftentimes, we have senior HR leaders and senior executives in not just healthcare but any business making the decisions for their entire workforce about what benefits would be best for them. And I’m a big believer in talking to your workforce and understanding what they value, because there are so many different types of benefits available today. From student loan reimbursement, to flexible scheduling, to different types of retirement plans and different types of health plans, that offering these different types of benefits in the long run sets you apart from being just an employer to being an employer of choice.

Debbie  13:47

That’s some great advice. Chris, I know a lot of health care organizations are really looking for strategies to become an employer of choice in today’s very competitive marketplace. Until next time listeners, I’m Debbie Bola.