Recruiting the best and brightest is always a challenge, no matter what industry you happen to find yourself in. However, the recruitment of nursing staff has proven to be a particularly challenging endeavor for Human Resources Professionals working in the healthcare industry. In this article, I’ll grant you some experiential insight into these challenges and provide some practical solutions to face them.
Pick up any textbook on staffing, and you’ll find that recruitment challenges are attributed to a wide range of reasons that can generally be classified as either a lack of labor supply or an unmet labor demand. In the case of Nurse recruitment, the issue in the last decade seems to be largely due to an increased (and more importantly, unmet!) demand.
The first and most commonly cited challenge of recruiting nurses is the seemingly unending shortage. Labor shortages are a common theme across all industries in the United States at present, as the unemployment rate has dropped down from a high of 10% in October of 2015 to 4.3% in May of 2017. With the general labor market in such a state, it is no surprise that a profession requiring both college education and state licensure has unmet demands.
In addition to the fluctuating labor market, the very role of the registered nurse has changed to encompass a wider variety of functions. Put bluntly, specialty nurses can perform many of the same tasks as physicians at a lower cost. An oft-cited example of this is the nurse practitioner performing assessments and managing care in a role comparable to a physician. Nurse Practitioners are even able to prescribe medication under the guidance of a physician.
Facing These Challenges
As you probably learned during Economics 101, the logical solution to the problem of increased demand would be to balance the other side of the labor equation through increasing the supply. Though it would be foolhardy to say that an HR Department can solve a nationwide nursing shortage, human resources professionals can help their organization to increase the number of nurses in their talent pool by promoting the following in their organization:
- Invest in tuition reimbursement programs; focus on R.N.’s.
Promoting education amongst your ancillary staff can help to build a more robust internal talent pool in the long run. Your tuition-assistance program can even dictate a number of years that the recipients must commit to your organization to enhance the benefit.
- Emphasize what makes your organization so great during the recruitment process and don’t forget your benefits!
Recruiting is an extremely competitive enterprise. Healthcare organizations are constantly trying to recruit the best and the brightest. In addition to the obvious incentive of a competitive wage, remember that your recruitment staff should always be well versed in your benefit program in order to “sell” your organization to prospective candidates.
- Redouble efforts on retention, specifically promoting engagement.
Unfortunately, burnout and job dissatisfaction are a problem plaguing many healthcare organizations. Although the working conditions of nurses vary significantly from position to position, many nurses find themselves working long hours in a demanding role.
Many health organizations have found it useful to create employee engagement committees focused specifically on maintaining and/or improving overall employee morale. If you are creative, this can have quite a bit of impact on your organization, even with a limited budget.
If you are able to organize with other organizational leaders and work toward improving employee engagement, focus on where it counts. Studies have shown that managerial styles that increase staff nurse empowerment ultimately reduce burnout and, consequently, turnover.
- SPENCE LASCHINGER, H. K., LEITER, M., DAY, A. and GILIN, D. (2009), Workplace empowerment, incivility, and burnout: impact on staff nurse recruitment and retention outcomes. Journal of Nursing Management, 17: 302–311. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2834.2009.00999.x
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey.