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Recruitment in Changing Times: Finding Talent Outside Healthcare?


This article captures discussion from the 2014 Advisory Council Meeting. The Advisory Council is a distinguished group of HR leaders that meets yearly at the American Hospital Association to discuss pressing topics in the field. For more information about how you can get involved in the Advisory Council, email Amy Goble, Vice President, Health Career Center.

To one central Florida chief human resources (CHRO) officer, “talent is either at the center of our risk or the center of our excellence,” and you can’t get to optimization, quality, safety and the rest without thinking about the human factor. She was part of a recent panel of CHROs the AHA convened recently to provide feedback on hiring and retaining talent in times of change. Their comments will either open your eyes or confirm your lingering fears.

Other hiring managers agreed with the CHRO’s statement but say their staffing challenges require a workforce that’s more flexible and talent that can be moved and trained based on quickly changing needs. A West Coast hiring manager is seeing contingent staff that work part time in three to four different hospitals so they can take advantage of a variety of benefits: education, minimum hours, working closer to home.

So, if basically healthcare is the same all over, “if everyone is making the same type of car, just putting a different shell on it,” how can you engender workforce loyalty? Beyond survey data, how are healthcare HR managers calculating performance, turnover, etc.? What are the benchmarks? Unlike mature professions like finance, this group feels healthcare needs to have standardized metrics. While the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources (ASHHRA) has a metrics platform, the hiring executives felt that hospitals need to link that data with operational metrics. In that way, community and business leaders would have a framework for understanding that hospitals and health systems are doing a better job of strategic planning and are on track for investing in people.

Investment in analytics and better technology, while costly, is a “must” all agreed on to anticipate the needs in a changing environment. Hospitals and health systems desperately need innovators and change managers. The AHA is predicting that 60% of hospital CEOs will come from outside the industry, a scenario that is both daunting and welcome to the hiring executives. The AHA has outlined five paths for the hospitals of the future: Partner, Experiment, Integrate, Redefine, or Specialize. The hiring executives agreed on partnering and integration or specializing and integration, but definitely on integration.

More competition from corner health and other non-traditional settings (what’s to keep England or India from using telemedicine with our rural or other underserved populations?) is taking place. The hiring executives said old ways of thinking are keeping their hospitals from being competitive. The current wholesale, older fee-for-service model perspective must change to more of a retail point of view. With it comes all of the customer-centered and service support, training—and perhaps even an influx of talent from outside service industries—that’s part of that new, forward-thinking model.