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Attracting qualified candidates in a tight labor market

QUESTION: Like many employers in this labor market, we have difficulty recruiting new employees. We have many vacancies including nurses, medical assistants and office staff. What new strategies could we try to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and attract qualified candidates to our practice?

TO RESPOND: You are right. It’s a tight job market right now. The “big quit” that began in 2021 and continues into 2022 is leaving many jobs unfilled and employers struggling. Michigan currently has 190,000 fewer people in the workforce compared to pre-pandemic numbers1 and a labor force participation rate of 59.5%2; 41st lowest in the country. These trends mean the labor shortage is unlikely to change any time soon.

So how can your practice stand out from the crowd and attract qualified candidates? There are several strategies you might consider beyond what you already do through your traditional recruiting process. This labor market forces employers to adapt the way they do business.

  1. Offer more part-time positions. Offering more part-time options can be attractive for several reasons, including providing flexibility in childcare arrangements and promoting better work-life balance. Women make up the majority of medical and clerical staff. Women are still primarily responsible for running the home and childcare for their families and after becoming parents, women are more likely to change jobs with greater flexibility.3 Offer part-time positions can attract qualified personnel who left the labor market earlier. , urging them to join. Don’t forget your current employees either. Offering a part-time option can help retain existing staff who are suffering from burnout.

    Of course, there are additional considerations when offering part-time options, including decisions on what benefits to offer and scheduling considerations, but these costs and logistical details can pay off in recruiting and retaining people. talents. Start by talking to your current employees about their interest in part-time options. You can also test the option with a few staff members to gauge how it works, and then decide to expand from there.

  2. Consider offering evening dates. You might be wondering what the connection is between evening planning and staff recruitment and retention? In addition to part-time options, there is a segment of workers who may appreciate working non-traditional hours, including those who have someone at home who can take care of the children in the evenings. You may also have patients who appreciate this option!
  3. Offer additional benefits. Covering childcare costs and continuing education can give you an edge over other practices. If you don’t already offer retirement matching and/or student loan repayment assistance, those can also set you apart.
  4. Pay attention to your image. With a tight job market, employees can be more selective about where they want to work. Employees want to work in practices that treat their staff and patients well. If your patient reviews are not generally positive (more than just a periodic poor review), it could mean that there are other issues occurring in practice that need attention. Dissatisfaction in a practice not only impacts patient satisfaction, but also employee recruitment and retention. And if there are other job options that seem more attractive as a place to work, high-quality employees will choose to apply elsewhere.

    In addition to paying attention to online reviews, spend time marketing your practice online through social media and your website. Potential employees are researching your practice and you want them to see a place that looks like a great place to work.

  5. Build your future workforce. Do you have office staff who want to learn a clinical role or clinical or medical assistants exhausted from direct patient care and interested in working in business operations? Do you partner with your local high school career institute, community college, or graduate programs by providing internships, clinical rotations, or other student/resident shadowing opportunities? Building your talent pool is a long-term strategy for cultivating your future workforce.

While these strategies aren’t an immediate fix, together they can help build and retain a high-quality workforce over the long term.

ShapeBy Jodie Schäfer, SPRH, SHRM-SCP HRM Services


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