The Bayard Brief: Labor Market Insights — January 2023

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Healthcare Could Use Some Health Care.

  • 12.02.2022

  • |

  • Matt Gilbert, Chief Creative Officer, Director of Employer Brand

Healthcare recruiting was challenging before the Pandemic, to say the least. If that wasn’t enough, few careers have so much responsibility thrust upon them, like being a direct caregiver. Lives are in the balance. Today, many health systems, hospitals, clinics, and service providers in the U.S. struggle to fill shifts and find and keep people. This isn’t just bad for the employer but for the entire nation. To illustrate the enormity of challenges, if we follow the career journey of a single Nurse from school to getting their first job and to long-term job choices, add in a Pandemic, burnout, and quality of work-life balance, it’s not hard to see the scale of the challenge becomes increasingly complex. Are healthcare employers doomed then to a vicious cycle of being short-staffed, which burns out everyone else, leading to more resignations?

We see a better way forward, but it does mean rethinking long-held practices of employers’ strategies around how they attract, message, align, engage, and ultimately retain people. We can approach the respective journeys as talent partners by shifting goals to a value-creating process. Job seekers, employees, and employers are career partners, whether they like it or not. We invest in each other. We rely on each other. We succeed, or not, together.

If an employer could view employees fully as their partners, the relationship would change. If job seekers saw employees of an organization as partners in their job search, their career scorecards (how they evaluate options) would change. And this becomes a self-informing system. When an employer can create value in processes most job seekers report they despise, the outcome can be staggering. Expectations can be made clear, which allows the job seeker to better self-align, creating stronger values sharing and initial fit. When aspirations of value (how a job seeker views their career in the future) are presented with transparency, that too creates value. It empowers people to see their choices better, like a long-term investment. Authenticity builds trust. Trust builds culture. Culture builds engagement. Engagement builds retention. The goal is not a great EVP or even a great employer brand. The goal is to be a great employer, backed up by the lived experience of career value. Success in this process would mean job seekers, employees, and employers would be excited to view their Glassdoor or Indeed reviews. More referrals would be made. People would support each other better, and so on. The employer brand is strong when the employer is strong, not vice versa. Is this a career utopia? Maybe the 100% all-in version is, but we can build smaller wins. Think of the career utopia part as a forever work in progress.

Small wins with big impacts

Healthcare professionals don’t do what they do for the money, benefits, or learning opportunities ONLY. But they do need them and want them. It may be a calling, but it shouldn’t mean the punishment healthcare professionals have been reporting. Hospital leaders understand this but don’t have the resources to make everyone’s wish list come true. We have to look deeply at where we can create value. Where are the gaps, the cracks, and the worn-down parts? We can start there.

Expectations of career value

What are job seekers’ expectations?
What are the employees’ expectations?
What is the Employer’s expectation from staff?

Where do they align and misalign?

Social science-based research is what we need. The difference in that approach is understanding the “why” of things people want. Who doesn’t want more compensation, benefits, learning opportunities, and working with people they consider friends? What job seekers want is not nearly as insightful as why they want it. We need to understand deeply and accurately why they value things. And where, even when, and how. Armed with that type of intelligence, we can develop real insights, not simply more data that tells us what people want. We can create value from insights.

We ask so much of healthcare professionals—compassion, empathy, tireless hours, and much more. At the very least, we can reward them with the respect, recognition, and honor we saw pouring out during the darkest days of the pandemic.

Understanding value creation

When we understand why nurses (or any type of career role profile) experience value in career attributes, we know where to aim to create value. For example, we know that burnout is a big challenge, and it might seem oversimplified to ask why, but that is exactly what we need to do. Only ask it better, smarter, and let the nurse explain the different ways, times, shifts, and situations that this occurs. Insights come from asking deeply. Then we can look at innovation to help counterbalance. Those new initiatives not only help create value for employees, but it infuses recruitment marketing with much better stories to tell how you’re making changes. That then creates value because you’re not simply messaging how great you are; you’re messaging that you care, took the time to understand the issues deeply, acted on your insights, and created a view of longer-term value, namely an employer that cares and willing to do the work.

Imagine a nursing recruitment advertising campaign in the market. 99% will message that they are great places to work, a place to make a difference, offer comprehensive total rewards, and some will even offer sign-on bonuses. They’ll have pictures of smiling nurses or engaged in purposeful-looking work. They’ll have design elements from homespun to highly stylized. Now see the one we just explored about burnout. The message is that we understand the enormity of the challenge. We studied it deeply, working with Nurses. We came up with innovative solutions and are putting them into action and monitoring closely to look for ways to improve them, with feedback from Nurses. We might not even need a photo of a smiling nurse.

What nursing ad would you click to learn more?

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At Bayard, we have helped many organizations transform their employer brand to fit the needs of today’s workforce. If you would like to learn more about our Value Experience (EVX) Framework and how we build employer brands from the experience of value, connect with us.

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