Healthcare recruitment: Planning for an aging population with technology

As the population ages, the healthcare workforce must be replenished.

It’s no secret that the U.S. population is aging, as is the case with almost all developed countries. In fact, based on the U.S.’s age-sex distributions, it can be classified as the constrictive type of population pyramid. Essentially, the percentage of young people is lower than other age categories and possibly decreasing. While not as drastic as China, Japan and Italy, the U.S.’s population pyramid is still slightly skewed more towards the older ages.

As America’s population continues to age, the demand for assisted living will increase, as well as the need for assisted living practitioners, such as RNs and LPNs. The phenomenon of the inevitable surplus in aged Americans is colloquially referred to as the silver tsunami, with Baby Boomers estimated to make up 10% of the 85 or older portion of the population by 2035. This event will impact every area of healthcare, especially home care and nursing-home care. Plus, Baby Boomers will not tolerate limited access to the best care; likewise, they will want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible. Accommodating the older generation will require a massive number of healthcare works. One study estimated that there will need to be at least 2.3 million new care workers by 2025, with another report projecting that by 2026, 14% of all jobs in the U.S. will be healthcare and assisted living.

Likewise, half of all registered nurses are 50, and nearly half of all physicians are 55. Their eventual retirement will create a huge vacuum in qualified personnel. Filling the medical-worker gap and supporting the massive influx of Baby Boomers will require a significant overhaul of the current outdated hiring models used by healthcare companies, particularly assisted living.

Recruiting active versus passive candidates

Perhaps the most detrimental factor to healthcare recruitment is that most organizations hire based on an at-need basis. In other words, only active candidates, or those actively applying and immediately available for work, are getting hired. By only sourcing active candidates, organizations unintentionally put themselves at a disadvantage because recruiters must compromise on their skill requirements to fill open roles. Such practices lead to hiring unqualified employees and lower retention rates, which prolongs the high turnover rate cycle.

Still, passive candidates, the opposite of active candidates, are not necessarily superior. However, they do occupy 75% of the available market. Passive candidates are those people who are currently employed and are not actively looking for work but are not opposed nor uninterested in moving to a different role. While passive candidates are not available to start right away, they represent an untouched majority of employees.

Consider the analogy that active candidate recruiting is comparable to fishing with a net, while passive candidate recruiting is tantamount to fishing with a spear. With the former, one is figuratively casting a wide net, and although they may be successful, they must shift through all the mediocre fish until they find the one with gold scales. In the latter, an organization finds the candidates that fit their requirements and then, often as a team, makes a conscious and strategic effort to ‘capture’ that person. Research shows that the best talent is usually off the market within ten days - combine that with the inevitable high demand for assistance care workers, its vital organizations have a reliable and efficient means of finding, organizing and recruiting employees. Such a solution exists in the form of a talent management system or recruitment software.

Breaking the cycle of high turnover with recruitment software

Breaking the high turnover rate cycle and preparing for the increased need for staff requires healthcare recruiters, especially in the assisted living sector, to utilize a combination of passive recruitment as well as a talent management system. Such software can streamline the recruitment process and merge an organization’s pipeline and team into one collaborative and virtual space where candidates and current employees can come together on high-priority opportunities.

Additionally, any staff member with clearance to use the talent management software can access, record and edit all notes on individual candidates. Record keeping is essential to passive recruitment as the recruiting process itself can take months. Having all necessary information in one, easily accessible place viewable at any time will permit all recruitment decision-makers to contribute to the final hiring selection. Plus, most systems include reporting software for performance tracking.

Conveniently, many of these solutions can scale as an organization grows, ideal for assisted living as it expands to become one of the largest employers in the country. Moreover, these systems make hiring manager’s jobs easier. Auto-sync helps recruiters stay organized to prevent scheduling conflicts. Similarly, it can send automated notifications about slated interviews and other pressing updates. Often designed with simple interfaces and easy-to-follow directions, talent management systems don’t require the knowledge of an IT specialist to set up or operate.

The importance of data in recruitment

Today, data and analytics are everything, and recruitment software won’t be enough unless an organization can effectively leverage its own information. Also, it’s critical to migrate data when moving to talent management software, which can be done by importing CRMs or spreadsheets. Nevertheless, once a recruitment system is in place - and an organization has access to valuable insights and analytics, the entire process of sourcing and selecting qualified assisted living workers will be much easier even amid an aging population and the mass retiring of medical professionals.

Drew Waterhouse is founder and CRO of Model Match and Brent Underhill, Strategic Growth Partner at Model Match.