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Skilled staff shortages in Healthcare… Is it time to think outside the box about the way you recruit?

by Derek Del Simone on December 5, 2013
View Derek's LinkedIn profile here

There has always been a shortage of skilled professionals in Healthcare, everyone complains about it, but not many managers or organisations think outside the box to attract the right talent to their organisation.

The days of waiting for the perfect candidate are long gone; you are just going to get yourself into a bidding war with 20 other organisations who desperately want the same candidate with those specific skills sets.

The most effective way and only way to avoid shortages of skills is for organisations to focus on building a culture that is focussed on developing staff skills and growing their own. Having managers who are capable of identifying, hiring and developing talented people is the crucial pin in this! While your competitors are dying waiting for candidates with the perfect skills to come along, your managers will hire talented workers and quickly bring them up to speed.

This does requires managers, who can actually do the work themselves, and who can find and teach other talented people to do the same. Finding someone who fits your culture is the first important step; behavioural competencies you cannot train. But you can find the right person and develop their clinical / technical skills. There are enough young and old experienced people out there that are just looking for the opportunity to help cross train to develop new skills!

A prime example of this issue is that around 12% of demand for ultrasound services by Australian patients will be not be able to be met by the profession by 2015. What is the market doing to help meet this demand? Are we training more students? Are we importing talent from overseas? We speak to countless numbers of Radiographers who are looking to cross train as sonographers, but struggle to secure a trainee sonographer role with current employer. Many employers limit this training to only a few minimal positions a year or aren’t prepared to invest in cross training their current staff.

This isn’t a novel idea, but if you invest in cross training existing staff members who are interested, doesn’t that give you a multi skilled staff member who can do a number of roles? Wouldn’t this help handle shortages?

There are a few companies out there that say to their Radiographers “Give us a 4 year commitment, you will continue working as a radiographer over this time, and we will assist with your education and training costs to cross train you as a sonographer”. Obviously to safe guard the employer there can be claw backs in costs put into contracts if a person leaves within the time period. But investing in staff and developing their skills can only help you deal with skills shortages.

Sure you are going to lose that staff member at some point in the future, but isn’t it better to have them for 4 years; than to only have them for 2 years, cause there is another employer who is prepared to cross train them?

Geez it sounds like I’m advocating apprenticeship style employment and mentoring as a solution to the talent shortage? Of course I am.

An employer that has a group of masterful managers who can mentor staff and develop their skills, need not high narrowly from the same small pool of talent every other competitor is fishing from. The right manager can open up this pool of talent and fish from a larger pool. Sure there are costs financial and time wise, involved in this method but the future ROI should ultimately outweigh this.

The key is to train those existing employees properly, so you don’t lose them to a competitor or rather than promote them too quickly into management jobs where, through their naïveté, they will trigger talent shortages, through recruiting methods that limit the talent pool.

When you find your company posting overly narrow job requisitions, you need to ask; Are we hiring talent for the long term, or buying specific skills for today’s crisis?

The most important talent to hire is your line managers who can grow more workers like themselves. Without that management depth, you’re likely find yourself complaining that there’s a shortage of good people “out there” because you have too many poor managers “in here” who cannot train and develop their teams to handle this skill crisis.

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