It seems everywhere you look there is a help wanted sign. Businesses of all types are looking to hire people; the impact of the pandemic on the workforce has been staggering. Without exception, the biggest issue health care providers face now is a workforce shortage, and the resulting impact on the ability to provide quality of care to those they serve.
As I talk to providers, the statement I hear most is “I can’t figure out where everyone went; why don’t they want to work; how are they paying their bills.” The Great Resignation, as it is now being called, impacted many of the high performing employees that providers would like to have back, yet they seem to have disappeared. Employers struggle with understanding where those people have gone and how to bring them back to the organization.
There is no denying the pandemic gave all of us an opportunity to reassess our lives, personally and professionally. When the world was disrupted, basically overnight, people took that opportunity to examine their status quo, and to evaluate what is important to them. As a result, millions of employees decided to leave their jobs and seek employment, or fulfillment, elsewhere. For some it was a chance to get out of a bad work situation, and for others it was a chance to chase a dream of bettering themselves. While that all sounds reasonable, it doesn’t solve the problem health care providers face in how to find employees to staff operations.
We have all heard the phrase, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome”; more than ever, this applies to the world of health care, especially for smaller providers. Hiring practices that worked before the pandemic aren’t effective now; not every job will be structured as it was pre-pandemic. Many employers are struggling to figure out what it will take to bring folks back into the organization. There will always be those devoted folks whose life is devoted to providing care, but employers have to do some heaving lifting, and break some paradigms, in order to capture the attention of a workforce with a new reality. So, how do health care employers go about building new paradigms? Ask them!
Having a conversation with a former employee who has chosen not to return to the organization, and truly listening to their answer to the question of why they don’t come back can be very enlightening. Talking to prospective employees about what will make the difference in their decision making process can give the insight providers need to develop that new paradigm. Much like exit interviews can be very educational, especially with employees who don’t leave on good terms, gathering information about why someone doesn’t want to work in the field, or why an applicant might choose to work somewhere else, can provide a gold mine of insight on how health care organizations need to shift in order to attract the talent they seek.