The healthcare industry is rapidly growing. New and expanding hospitals across the country need staff at all levels to meet the rise in demand for their services.
Hospitals and medical centers face several staffing challenges that can impact things from patient care, compliance and safety protocols to other central functions, such as environmental services, materials management, food service and building maintenance. Healthcare facilities need facility and maintenance positions fully staffed to operate at their best. These support workers are in high demand due to the ongoing labor shortage. Additionally, the skills these workers have are also in huge demand in almost every other industry. So, hospitals aren’t just competing with each other; and to attract facility and maintenance technicians in a tight labor market, it’s time for hospitals to update their hiring strategy.
Reconsider hospital experience requirements
Finding new doctors and nurses isn’t easy and — during a labor shortage — finding nonclinical workers is even more difficult due to the sheer volume and turnover. Environmental services (EVS) aides, food service workers and facilities and maintenance technicians can be found in most similar operations, such as universities, airports and even resorts and hotels. Hospitals that consider these transferable skills are hiring at a faster pace and have a much larger candidate pool to select from over those that strictly require a healthcare background in these areas.
Most of the hiring managers I support have worked in a hospital setting for their entire career and so they want someone with that same background. They are hesitant to hire anyone without it, so I ask them to consider workers that have the required skill set but lack the hospital experience. If they need an HVAC technician, then I explain the benefits in considering someone with strong HVAC skills and how well their previous environment can relate to a highly compliant environment in healthcare.
In a candidate’s market, employers that re-evaluate some of their hiring requirements are finding it easier to attract workers. Expand your search to include candidates with transferable skills that can be tailored to the hospital environment.
When I have a client that wants candidates with hospital experience, I explain the success we’ve had at other hospitals by relaxing that requirement. It’s easier to find someone with fast-food or retail experience to work in food service or a housekeeper from a hotel for EVS. These types of workers typically will jump for a better opportunity to work in healthcare.
Offering a competitive wage is an important part of staffing hard-to-fill positions. When hiring and retaining facilities technicians, keep in mind that these skill sets are highly transferable, so you’re not just competing with other hospitals. Explore different retention and incentive programs and determine what you can offer your workers to keep them on the team.
One of the best retention programs I’ve seen a hospital use is a tiered approach based on performance. Workers receive a slight increase in their hourly rate after three months of work, then another increase if they stay on the job another three months while still meeting performance metrics. You can also add other incentives like paid time off (PTO) or a completion bonus for contract labor. These programs give workers a reason to finish their assignments, convert to permanent employees and retain new hires.
For lesser skilled workers, a chance to earn a dollar more an hour can be enough for them to switch jobs. Establish incentive programs to make your job openings more attractive to candidates and to retain staff.
The healthcare industry is expanding, and hospitals are growing. This puts additional stress on hospitals to attract the workers needed to keep the staff and patients comfortable. If you’re struggling to find hospital talent, be sure to review your hiring requirements, adjust your compensation strategy and consider reaching out to a staffing agency.