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The Impact of a Recession on Healthcare Hiring

Talks of a recession dominate headlines these days. Inflation is of course a primary catalyst for these economic downturn predictions. Last week’s consumer price index (CPI) report revealed year-over-year inflation reaching 9.1%, the highest rate since 1981. This has left many employers wondering what this means for hiring and business overall — healthcare organizations included. 

At Hireology we predict that for the vast majority of the healthcare organizations we work with, which includes skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare agencies, a recession isn’t likely to have a big impact on your demand for work. If anything, we predict the upcoming recession will actually help speed up hiring. 

Why? Because the industry is already short hundreds of thousands of workers — 400,000 long-term care employees left the workforce in 2020 alone. And during recessions, demand for care does not change, meaning this need for talent will remain steady. On top of that, rising unemployment (which often occurs during a recession) means there’s more talent in the market looking for work.

In other words, your demand for talent will continue to be high and at the same time, you may actually be working with a larger talent pool as folks in industries hit hardest by the pandemic re-enter the job market. 

Of course this doesn’t mean you should take your foot off the gas. As noted above, the industry is facing an unprecedented shortage of workers that is only exacerbated by the rise of the gig economy. People can make money when they want and how they want via on-demand shift work. So as an employer that relies almost entirely on your people to keep your business afloat, you need to do everything you can to stand out and reach those folks who may be re-entering the workforce ahead of your competitors.

What should healthcare employers do to continue hiring in a recession?

Short answer? You just need to get the basics right.

Long answer: It’s important to take time to put applicants and candidates at the center of your processes rather than running outdated recruiting and hiring workflows that only work for you. That means designing jobs that meet the needs of today’s workforce and making it as easy as possible for talent to discover your opportunities and navigate the hiring process.

Let’s take a closer look:

1. Rethink your offerings

You need to constantly ask yourself: What is it about my opportunity that could differentiate us from all the options out there? Of course, you can’t care for your patients through Zoom, but there are other ways you can stand out. Perhaps you can allow part time work, give employees the option to pick their own shifts, or offer on-demand pay. 

Regardless of what it is, keep in mind that expectations around work have shifted exponentially since the onset of the pandemic — folks want to make work work for them. So if you want to fill your dozens of open roles faster, you need to really rethink what it is you’re offering folks who choose to take those jobs.

2. Sell your jobs like products

Once you’ve redefined the employment package you’re offering, you need to sell it! You can’t just buy ad after ad on different job boards and hope to see an increase in applications. Instead, sell your open roles like you would sell your organization and its services. Put on a marketing hat. Highlight what makes you a great place to work across a range of channels — your career site, your job descriptions, social media, and yes, job board ads — to reach as many people as possible with the right message.

3. Put people first

Your hiring process and tools aren’t just there to make the lives of your recruiters and hiring managers easier. They should make the lives of your applicants and candidates easier too. That means you need to create easy job applications that only take a few minutes to complete, you need to communicate with candidates in a way that works for them (for most applicants today, that means texting), you need to be responsive, and you need to make the process fast and convenient for your potential talent. Do you want to capture the best talent out there or do you want to be left with the folks who are still in the market after your more responsive competitors have hired them?

4. Tap into your existing employees’ networks

And finally, at a time when your demand isn’t changing and you potentially might even see an increase in supply, revamp your employee referral program. Chances are, your existing employees will know someone who is suddenly looking for work in the next several months. Incentivize them to connect those folks with you. There’s no better way to sell your roles than through someone’s trusted peer. Think about when you are looking to buy a new product. You likely trust a friend over the company itself. Jobs are no different. 

The upcoming recession is likely. And in the eyes of many, it’s already here. Prices are high, many companies are cutting budgets, and folks are experiencing unemployment. But this is largely impacting knowledge-based businesses. Organizations that rely on skilled labor like health care facilities and agencies are likely not going to feel much of a hit. In fact, in some cases you may even see some brief hiring relief. So set yourself up now to get in front of anyone who may be re-entering the workforce in the next couple of months. 

Want to learn more about what today’s job applicants really want? Check out our latest applicant research report, The Great Reassessment, to get first-hand insight into applicant needs and expectations today.

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