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From Burnout to Best Fit: How Skills and Competencies Can Transform Healthcare Recruitment

The state of hiring in healthcare is reaching a tipping point, with recruiter and executive burnout mirroring the exhaustion and frustrations of a workforce only newly emerged from a pandemic.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare employment is expected to rise by 13% by 2031. This has multiple drivers: healthcare staff (particularly nurses) are retiring in droves, turnover is at an all-time high, and demand is rising as the U.S. population ages and Boomers require more and more specialized care.

Shocking Healthcare Staffing Statistics  

The healthcare industry overall is struggling to retain staff. Worker burnout, workplace stress, a large number of workers hitting retirement age, and staff shortages placing extra burden on those who are there working all contribute to the issue.

  • Hospitals have an average 100% staff turnover every five years
    • The average hospital lost $7.1 million in 2021 to higher turnover rates
    • Overall, 55.5 percent of hospitals do not have a measurable nurse retention goal
    • It can cost as much as 200% of the employee’s annual pay to replace a specialized healthcare professional

In 2022 alone, turnover rates for segments of the healthcare industry outside hospitals ranged from 65% for at-home care providers to 94% at nursing homes

  • Registered Nurse shortages are a point of extreme concern: 
    • The turnover rate for staff RNs is currently standing at 27.1% 
    • Each percent change in RN turnover costs an average of $262,300 annually
    • The RN Recruitment Difficulty Index lists 87 days on average to hire a new RN

Between growing demand and a shortage of qualified professionals, the state of healthcare recruitment is in crisis. 

Nurses are getting paid more than ever - an average salary of $77,600 a year for RNs - but the stress, long hours, health problems caused by being on their feet all day and often not getting a break to eat or even use the bathroom means many say even this compensation is nowhere near enough.

Other challenges facing healthcare recruitment include the need for healthcare workers who:

  • Are savvy about the influx of new tools and technical advances in healthcare
  • Can meet the demands and challenges of telehealth services
  • Will align with patient care and HCAHPS scoring goals  
  • Don’t falter under the stress of responsibility and fast-paced days and nights

Recruiters are also feeling the pinch. Burnout in healthcare staff translates to burnout in recruiters as the struggle to meet staffing demands intensifies. Patients’ lives are literally relying on good hires - but how do recruiters and hiring managers identify candidates with potential for Quality of Hire and retention?

Meeting Healthcare Recruitment Challenges

There is a desperate need to find a competitive edge when recruiting for healthcare industry positions, particularly nurses. Every other agency and institution is competing for the same shrinking pool of candidates. Embracing innovation is a must in order to meet the following challenges:

The need to hire faster

Clumsy, inefficient hiring processes and extended time-to-hire can mean losing top talent early in the funnel. With so much demand, nurses and other healthcare staff are going to go with the hiring process that is fastest and easiest. However, hiring in a hurry can mean you end up with a bad hire that will increase costs instead of decrease them, causing a vicious cycle of staff turnover and restaffing.

The need to assess faster

Being able to assess candidates more quickly can help you hire faster without increasing your risk of a poor quality hire. Streamlining your process and focusing on verifying skills and competencies is the best way to surface the right candidates for open roles. Hiring smarter over faster yields employees who stay longer and perform better. The right tools can make completing these assessments early in the hiring funnel easier and more productive.

The need for innovation in hiring

The same old recruitment methods just aren’t working anymore. A whopping 48% of healthcare professionals have or will consider quitting this year. While many will retire, many more will quit because of burnout, change jobs to secure better pay or benefits, or even shift specialties or roles completely. Using innovative methods to match applicants with the correct roles for their interests, skills and competencies is a must moving forward.

Creating a Good Employer Brand

A good employer brand doesn’t just mean treating existing hires well; it also extends that same respect and care to candidates in their recruitment pipeline. Making your organization a great place to work starts in the pre-hire period.

Healthcare brands are highly focused on patient experience and their reputation as a provider, but there needs to be equal attention given to building a reputation for being a good hirer who respects candidates’ time and understands their needs.

Creating great candidate experiences

The first thing you need to do is ensure that you have a fast, efficient, and user-friendly application process. This includes developing one-on-one relationships with your candidates through personalization and high levels of communication. 

Candidate experience will hinge on how good you are at removing obstacles from the hiring funnel, how willing you are to respect your candidates’ time, and how well (and often) you communicate during the hiring process.

Use tools that streamline your application process, embrace assessment methods that surface top talent swiftly, and schedule interviews quickly to keep your best candidates on the hook and invested in your organization's potential as a prospective employer.

Make sure you’re showing candidates what their future could look like: most are just as invested in finding a long-term, stable employment situation as you are in landing long-term, stable, and loyal employees.

Highlight your offerings to employees, including competitive salaries and benefits, but also what you provide in the way of:

  • Professional development 
  • Growth programs 
  • Continuous learning
  • Work/life balance
  • Mental health support

Commit to DEIB in your workplace as well as to promotion from within. Candidates need to be able to see a future with your company, not just a new paycheck.  

Understanding, Assessing, and Verifying Needed Skills and Competencies 

Healthcare is becoming overwhelmingly technology-driven while remaining patient-centric. Successful candidates need to have a balance of abilities: the hard skills required to ensure stringent requirements of the healthcare industry are met, coupled with soft skills that dovetail with patient care needs. 

Skills and attributes should be balanced against each candidate’s actual competencies. They can use the software, but do they maximize its potential to meet reporting goals? They have a good bedside manner, but do their patients comply with aftercare instructions? Look for candidates who follow through and achieve real-world results, not just ones that score well on tests.

Data-driven hiring decisions depend on a feedback loop. If your retention is low, that’s feedback you need to take and apply to your hiring process. Tweak, trial, and repeat until you see new hire performance and retention improve - and then tweak, trial, and repeat again and again. 

Iteration is your friend when building recruitment funnels in healthcare as in any other industry. Of course, in healthcare, patient lives are on the line. With these stakes, you need all the innovation and tools you can get to help you make the best hiring choices. Making the shift to an outcome-based skills and competencies hiring approach is key. 

Using Tools to Avoid Recruiter Burnout and Stay Competitive

There are plenty of tools you can use to make your healthcare hiring process better and more effective. From applications that can be completed easily from mobile to interview scheduling software that gets everyone in a virtual or physical room as quickly as possible, you can streamline the entire pipeline to help candidates get hired faster. However, that’s only half the issue.

Quality of Hire is critical for retention. When it comes to the healthcare sector, skills and competencies are critical. Being able to quickly assess and verify your candidate’s potential for top performance and retention is easier when you use a tool like Crosschq 360 Reports.

With Crosschq 360, you can create a targeted survey that queries applicants and their former peers and managers specifically about the skills and competencies that relate most to the role being hired for. Once your survey is created, the process is simple.

First, the candidate completes a self-reference check, answering the survey based on their own assessment of their attributes and abilities. Once they’ve completed the survey, it can be forwarded to the references they believe can speak best to those same attributes.

The result is a clear picture of how a candidate has performed in the past, as well as their suitability for working as part of a team and their willingness to learn new things. Since all candidates and their references get the same survey questions, and scoring is applied in the same way, candidates can be compared to each other without unconscious bias getting in the way.

Crosschq 360 can transform your hiring process, helping you:

  • Assess candidates more quickly and accurately
  • Fill open healthcare positions faster
  • Improve Quality of Hire, performance, and patient care
  • Reduce the costs associated with healthcare worker turnover
  • Improve on-the-job performance, impacting HCAHPS scores

Start making data-driven decisions when it comes to hiring for healthcare. Contact our team today for a demonstration of Crosschq 360 and discover how it can be tailored for your specific needs.


Katie Kennedy

by Katie Kennedy

Talent Consulting Lead

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