Healthcare Recruitment Trends & Predictions: The Continued Impact of the Pandemic

Healthcare Recruitment Trends & Predictions: The Continued Impact of the Pandemic

When rolling into 2022, the global pandemic is still wreaking havoc on recruiting processes as job candidates and employers alike align with new goals and purposes. The healthcare industry is no different.

The good news is that total employment in the healthcare industry is projected to grow from 153.5 million jobs to 165.4 million jobs from 2020 to 2030, as announced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in September 2021. This growth represents an additional 11.9 million jobs with an annual growth rate of 0.7 percent, which is higher than previous projections at the beginning of the pandemic. 

For instance, the American Nurses Association states that more registered nursing positions are open in 2022 than in any other profession. Further, with more than 500,000 RNs expected to retire in 2022, there’s a need for 1.1 million new RNs for increased demand as well as retiree replacement.  If those hires aren’t made, the industry might be facing a nursing shortage.

In part because of extreme burnout from battling the last two years, healthcare workers are retiring faster than anticipated. According to a 2021 Mercer report, more than 6.5 million healthcare workers will leave the field over the next five years. Only two million are expected to fill those spots, which is exacerbating the already challenging hiring market. 

The pandemic has had a particularly profound impact on the healthcare industry, with a huge population of healthcare workers leaving the industry and workforce while the overall need in the industry remains high – with 18% of healthcare workers quitting since the pandemic began and 19% having thought about leaving the healthcare field entirely. This exodus has implications for the entire healthcare industry, with many employers being impacted – and many preparing for more challenges on the horizon.

Keep reading to learn more about current recruitment trends and predictions as well as how to combat hiring challenges in today’s market.


Healthcare Recruiting Trends In 2022

Healthcare recruiting has been historically challenging as employers work to attract and retain talent in one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. As the growth and need of the industry continues to be spurred on, healthcare employers should continue to evolve their recruiting practices to combat the hiring challenges in today’s market.

So, what are healthcare job candidates looking for in 2022?  Here are five trends to keep an eye out for:


Trend #1: Employer Brand Matters More Than Ever

When emerging post-COVID, employees are in the driver’s seat, demanding flexibility, work-life balance, and mental health benefits, according to the World Economic Forum. Job seekers use resources such as careers sites, careers pages, and company profiles to learn about a company’s mission, vision, and culture, to get details on benefits and compensation packages, and to find job openings that they are interested in. As companies reassess their recruitment strategies to attract top talent, they also need to communicate this commitment to changing preferences and make sure prospective candidates have access to the company’s information.

For many candidates, being a part of the right company is very important. Having a strong employer brand is going to make the company stand out as a good employer and allows candidates to see their potential fit in the company. 

In challenging times (like during the pandemic), the way employers treat their employees is showcased in a way like never before. If employees are treated well by their employer, the true and authentic company culture and employer brand shines in times of darkness. But if employees are not prioritized, it could be detrimental to an employer’s reputation--therefore making future recruitment challenging. Read more about managing employer brand in difficult times. 


Trend #2 Virtual Recruiting

As virtual recruiting methods grew over the past two years, candidates now expect hiring professionals to devote some time to virtual recruiting, such as virtual job fairs or video interviews. 

Although many healthcare providers dabbled in virtual recruiting prior to the pandemic, the lockdowns and social distancing requirements of the last two years forced employers to create all virtual end-to-end recruiting methods. 

According to a 2021 LinkedIn study, 81 percent of hiring professionals agree that virtual recruiting will continue after the pandemic, while 70 percent agree that it will be the new normal. While entry-level healthcare candidates might experience an entirely remote hiring process, senior physicians and management might enjoy a more tailored process, potentially with initial recruitment virtually and on-site, in-person visits as the process evolves.

Employers should continue to implement and refine their virtual recruitment practices, taking cues from candidate feedback. With digital recruiting tools, such as on-line assessments, video interviews, and data-driven analytics, employers can make intelligent hiring decisions in this new normal.

To capture top talent in the healthcare industry, recruiters should fully jump on board, as it seems virtual recruiting is here to stay.


Trend #3: Appropriate Workplace Safety Measures

Even with COVID persisting, job seekers are still concerned about workplace safety measures, especially in the healthcare industry. With more pressure on employers to assure job candidates and employees alike they are mitigating risk, businesses must be clear about what steps they are taking to protect their employees and patients. 

According to a 2021 SHRM survey, almost 60 percent of respondents said they’d turn down a job if the employer didn’t have COVID safety protocols in place. Another 55 percent said they would decline a job if the employer didn’t mandate masks while at work.

Some safety measures employers are taking include having the appropriate protective gear for employees interacting with patients, alternating schedules, mandating vaccinations, and creating protocols for employees who have tested positive for COVID.


Trend #4: Flexibility & Remote Work

Another demand of job seekers? Flexible and remote work options. With 97 percent of employees preferring not to return to the workplace full-time, adapting to more flexible work schedules is of the utmost importance in the healthcare industry. 

Although some healthcare positions need to remain on-site, not all do. For example, human resources and IT departments can effectively operate remotely. Additionally, some clinical work can be done remotely, such as primary care visits and patient monitoring. 

Many healthcare employers have already responded to these demands. According to a recent future of work survey, 34 percent of health organizations surveyed said they are planning a blended workforce, including in-person, hybrid, and remote. Another 22 percent are solely focused on a hybrid approach.


Trend #5: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB)

Jobseekers are becoming increasingly likely to research a company’s ethics and inclusivity practices during their evaluation of potential employers. For many candidates, identifying whether an organization’s views and values align with their own is becoming an important aspect of the decision making process. 

The majority of employees want to work for an employer that prioritizes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) – in fact, the number is as high as 80 percent. Additionally, 40 percent of employees claim that the events of the last year have made “diversity and inclusion more of a priority at their companies.” 

For millennials and Gen Z job candidates?  They’re “setting a higher bar,” demanding that companies are “hiring a more diverse workforce, helping employees of color advance through the ranks, giving them more decision-making power and facilitating uncomfortable conversations about systemic racism.”

For healthcare employers, prioritizing DEIB extends beyond the workforce as experts have found that a “diverse and inclusive health care workforce—both in clinical and nonclinical/corporate settings—can help improve trust and empathy and strengthen the connection with patients and communities.” Taking action to expand DEIB efforts can help create a more welcoming company culture where individual differences are both respected and celebrated, expand the diversity of the workplace, and ensure all employees have equal opportunities for growth and advancement.


How Can Healthcare Employers Combat Hiring Challenges?

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed critical importance on healthcare, the likes of which the world likely hasn’t seen in more than 100 years. With entering the third year of the pandemic, COVID continues to create challenges for employers. These challenges will continue to shift the industry as events unfold.

Here are some ways that healthcare employers can combat hiring challenges in 2022 and beyond:


Find Candidates In New Audiences

Organizations are reaching out to different healthcare professional groups, like medical students, dental professionals, retirees, and the military, to close the gap when it comes to the healthcare professional shortage. Organizations are also putting a greater emphasis on attracting travel nurses, particularly in rural areas where there are not enough nurses in-market to meet increasing demand. Some companies are even partnering with organizations that have furloughed employees to hire and onboard their recently displaced staff.


Offer Expanded Employee Benefits

Job candidates today are also seeking expanded benefits beyond the traditional retirement and health plans. One such in-demand benefit is the provision of enhanced mental health benefits. Although many employers provide mental health support, research shows a disconnect between what employees expect and what employers believe they give. According to a 2021 study, 88 percent of executives and 86 percent of HR leaders believe they provide sufficient mental health services to their employees. However, “87% of workers want their employers to care about their mental health, only 66% actually feel supported and 28% feel that their employer failed to support their mental health during the pandemic.” Clearly, there’s room for improvement regarding mental health benefits.


Improve Training And Development

Organizations must also continue to invest in professional development, especially as millions of healthcare workers retire over the coming years. Younger employees will not only benefit from training and development plans but will find assurances that if hired, they will learn new skills as they focus on their own career progression. And don’t forget to train on other critical topics, such as diversity and inclusion.


Where To Reach Candidates

Since competition is as fierce as ever, it’s time for companies to adopt new strategies for attracting and retaining top talent. One way is by introducing a multi-pronged approach. This can include partnering with nursing schools, activating a refer-a-friend program, focusing on social recruiting, updating recruitment media (ads), networking, and updating employer brand strategies. Activating all of these strategies ensures that the recruitment marketing and engagement tactics are up-to-date and hiring professionals are meeting candidates where they are.


Moving Forward

When combining the healthcare industry’s staggering hiring needs with the global pandemic’s continued impact, healthcare employers will need all the help they can get to attract, support, and retain quality talent when moving forward in this “new normal.” 

Questions on how to modify your healthcare recruiting and talent acquisition strategies based on these trends and predictions? We're here to help!

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