As every healthcare recruiter knows—perhaps too well—the number of industry talent searches continues to rise, as confirmed by the recent benchmarking report by the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider Recruitment (AAPPR).
According to the AAPPR, it now takes an average of 135 days—four and a half months!—to fill positions for specialized physicians. Compound that by the fact that most healthcare recruiting departments consist of just two employees—another AAPPR finding—and it becomes clear how competitive healthcare recruiting has become. Given all the challenges of the current environment, what is the best talent acquisition strategy for healthcare organizations to adopt?
The answer may be simpler than you think. There is ample evidence that the most effective way to gain a recruiting edge is to offer cutting-edge relocation benefits that exceed standard industry offerings, thereby attracting physicians from a much larger geographic pool.
The Current State of Relocation for the Healthcare Industry
It’s no secret that an increasingly important factor to winning and retaining healthcare employees is to provide competitive employee benefits. A growing relocation trend for the healthcare industry is to view the related financial assistance as an employee benefit, not a form of compensation.
Relocation benefits for the healthcare industry remain, by and large, relatively modest. According to a New England Journal of Medicine physician benefits study, the average move allowance typically maxes out at about $10,000.
That $10,000 won’t go very far, especially since relocation benefits are now taxable to employees as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. (Prior to the passage of the tax law, most major relocation benefits were taxable business deductions for employers.)
The big question is: how do you enhance your relocation program without blowing your relocation budget? After all, these days healthcare organizations are constantly looking for ways to cut labor costs, not increase them, despite fierce hiring challenges. Is there a cost-effective solution? Yes!
How to Build a Stand-out Relocation Program Cost-Effectively
The best talent acquisition strategy for healthcare organizations is to augment the average $10,000 relocation benefit, typically provided as a reimbursement allowance or cash, by providing related services that shift the legwork away from physicians themselves , while allowing them to put their funds to best use.
While relocation services are standard offerings in the corporate world, they’re lacking in healthcare—despite the fact that physicians often work extended hours and are swimming in debt. Therefore, they don’t have much time to coordinate a move or in some cases, the ability to front the costs.
However, when organizations attempt to provide such services in-house, it puts even more stress on an already-lean talent acquisition team. Most simply don’t have the bandwidth or expertise to make moving arrangements, vet suppliers, handle reimbursements and address compliance and tax issues, etc.
Therefore, the best option is to contract with an outside relocation management company, or RMC. While this used to be very costly, thanks to recent changes in the relocation industry, it is now possible to do so without taking on a huge additional expense and in some cases, is cost neutral.
It’s no question, as the healthcare industry expands and changes, talent acquisition teams will need to look at relocation as a key recruiting strategy.