Healthcare Roundtable Recap: Recruiting & Relocation in the Wake of COVID-19

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These are difficult times for all employers, but especially in the healthcare sector. While every industry is grappling with its own recruiting challenges, the healthcare sector is in the uniquely-challenging position of serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the need for immediate talent is pressing, healthcare employers are simultaneously grappling with unprecedented recruiting hurdles as a result of the outbreak.

At UrbanBound, we’re trying to help. To that end, we recently hosted a virtual roundtable of healthcare recruiting and relocation thought leaders nationwide. We invited them to share their challenges, concerns, insights and solutions, and they generously complied. We’d like to thank our roundtable participants, which include talent acquisition leaders at: Mayo Clinic, University of Vermont Health Network, John Muir Medical Group, AtlantiCare, BJC HealthCare, Katon Direct, and Stryker Corp.

This roundtable was facilitated by our Cofounder Jeff Ellman, who led a fascinating—and, we hope, helpful—conversation. For those who attended, and those who weren’t able to, we’ve recapped our top takeaways here.

 

Takeaway #1: Healthcare Recruiters Are Quickly Adopting New Hiring Practices

What’s harder than recruiting new talent in the midst of a pandemic? Recruiting frontline healthcare talent! Our roundtable recruiters are employing flexibility and creativity in adapting their hiring processes to work in the new world order.

For example, in observance of social distancing guidelines, they’re increasingly relying on technology to interview candidates, conducting more phone and video interviews in lieu of face-to-face meetings. Some are also holding virtual job fairs on sites like Brazon.com, which allow them to connect with candidates in real-time (and are more cost-effective than traditional job fairs).

Do they expect to continue to use these new recruiting practices once the crisis is under control? Yes, at least those that are most effective.

 

Takeaway #2: Mobility Pros Are Taking a Flexible Approach to Relocation Exceptions

The COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying shutdowns have created particular challenges for transferees and employees in the process of relocating. Some of the roundtable’s mobility experts held that exceptions and adjustments are best addressed on a case-by-case basis, according to individualized need. (For example, U.S. employees working overseas should be permitted to come home if that was their preference.)

Other mobility professionals noted that they are advising transferees relocating out-of-state to keep their signed, hardcopy offer letter with them, so they can prove they are critical staffing workers if challenged.

 

Takeaway #3: Organizations Are Accelerating Their Hiring and Onboarding Processes…But Carefully

Roundtable attendees are very mindful of the projected COVID-19 surge dates in their areas and indicated they’re working hard to meet those impending needs. Some are taking steps to speed their hiring and onboarding processes when possible, using a range of strategies that include:

  • Posting temporary, PRN positions, so staff is ready to go when needed.
  • Establishing a central staffing pool of nurses in evergreen positions.
  • Bypassing the applicant tracking system (ATS) for nurses, when it becomes more of a hindrance than help.
  • Prioritizing positions that will be essential during the coming surge—respiratory, lab, EVS and clinicians—while backburnering less-urgent staffing needs.
  • Streamlining the number of days it takes to complete the onboarding process.
  • Adding contingencies to offer letters, pending receipt of background check outcomes. (Background screening have been delayed due to widespread shutdowns.) If essential information—such as criminal records—are not received by the start date, the offers are rescinded.

 

Takeaway #4: HR Pros Are Approaching Reciprocal Licensing with Caution

While many states have waived or relaxed state licensing requirements on an emergency basis, some healthcare organizations are still approaching the issue with caution. For example, some of our roundtable participants are only relocating current employees—not new hires—across state lines, because they’re not able to vet their credentials to their satisfaction.

 

Takeaway #5: Recruiters Are Exploring New Ways to Find Candidates

Roundtable participants are employing multiple methods to find and connect with candidates and are hungry for new ideas. Some of their current outreach methods include:

  • Posting across all job boards and apps.
  • Posting on social media.
  • Partnering with schools and universities to target new graduates.
  • Utilizing employee referral programs (one program offers a bonus, which is paid out only after the new hire has been employed for a fixed period of time).
  • Mining their ATS data base—a “treasure trove” of candidates—for promising prior applicants.
  • Leveraging their “boomerang network” of retirees and past employees, who have the benefit of knowing the organization’s system and practices.

Other suggestions:

  • Cast a wide net, but keep fine tuning your efforts—i.e., track your results, and shift your budget where it’s most effective. Avoid long-term contracts; go where the applicants are.
  • Look for job board specials for healthcare providers. For example, LinkedIn is currently offering free job postings for eligible healthcare employers through June 30, 2020.

 

Takeaway #6: Healthcare Systems Are Leveraging Their Existing Workforce

Our roundtable was in agreement that one of the best strategies available to healthcare organizations is to move existing staff, especially nurses, to areas and departments where they are most needed. For example, some healthcare systems have transferred nurses who worked in outpatient facilities back to their original in-hospital departments.

In addition, staff who were furloughed when their outpatient facilities closed or reduced operations have been offered in-hospital positions.

 

Takeaway #7: Hospitals Located in Popular Destinations Are Seeing More Entry-level Candidates

Environmental and food service workers in the healthcare industry are also in great demand right now. Hospitals that are based in popular travel destinations are experiencing a rare opportunity to attract experienced workers who were laid off by nearby hotels, restaurants and casinos.

However, at least one roundtable participant noted that some hourly workers are afraid to work in healthcare right now, fearing increased exposure to COVID-19.

 

Takeaway #8: Healthcare Organizations Are Developing Programs to Support their People

The professionals in our roundtable are acutely aware of the incredibly difficult jobs that healthcare workers are currently performing. Their organizations are finding a variety of ways to support their staff and their families during this crisis, such as:

  • Distributing groceries to employees working long hours, to spare them the need to go shopping.
  • Allowing employees to order pizza from their cafeterias to bring home for dinner.
  • Arranging discounts and deals from local business for employees and their families.
  • Providing expanded mental health support. (It was noted that Headspace, the guided meditation app, is offering free Headspace Plus subscriptions to U.S. healthcare professionals who work in public settings to the end of the year.)

Finally, our roundtable expressed collective admiration for doctors, nurses and support staff on the front lines. They noted that, in their conversations with healthcare professionals, they’re impressed and inspired by their commitment to serve during this remarkably challenging time. At UrbanBound, we second that emotion. (And we think our roundtable participants are pretty impressive, too.)

 

Takeaway #9: Healthcare Mobility Pros Are Rethinking their Relocation Programs

Just as they are adopting new recruiting practices, healthcare organizations are reevaluating their relocation programs. Beyond the roundtable discussion, healthcare mobility professionals are telling us that traditional relocation management methods are no longer serving them well.

As with recruiting, they’re looking to leverage relocation technology more fully, providing guidance and support to relocating employees without adding to the organization’s administrative burden. In order to entice more healthcare professionals to transfer, they’re looking to offer them greater flexibility and choice, so transferees can customize their relocation benefits without creating program exceptions.

Similarly, they’re eager to provide new hires with more virtual information about their new areas in advance of a home-finding trip. They are increasingly appreciating the value of tech-based relocation portals as a way to speed decision making, even as physical travel has become more challenging.

In short, as they adapt to a rapid-changing healthcare landscape, they are recognizing that their relocation programs must adapt and advance as well.

 

UrbanBound is a tech-driven relocation management company that modernizes the way companies relocate their employees while reducing costs by greater than 25%. If you want to learn more about UrbanBound, request a demo!

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