The Numbers Are In — Now What?

February 15

The most recent data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a bit of a reality shock when it comes to the 10-year period from 2008-2018. With total employment in all industries increasing by 10.1% resulting in 15.2 million new jobs, the healthcare industry alone is forecast to add 1.2 million positions. If social assistance positions are combined with the healthcare jobs, the two total 4.0 million new jobs or over 25% of the increase.

This huge increase continues to be driven by demographics. First, the number of those 65 years and older will grow from 38.7 million in 2008 to 51.4 million in 2018. The need for patient care and elderly services will rise yearly and the healthcare industry will be seeking creative ways to meet those needs. The health needs of this group will drive growth along with extended lifespan and medical technology advances.

In addition, much has been said about the retiring traditionalists and baby boomers that will affect this shift dramatically. Between these two events, healthcare workers will be a sought after commodity. This growth presents a challenge for companies nationwide to be able to recruit and retain the best talent.

Leading the growth during this period will be the home care services, with a yearly growth rate of 3.9%. Following closely behind are offices outside of the traditional hospital setting at 3.0%. These settings will include additional patient care options in outpatient settings from clinics to onsite care in areas like pharmacies and retail offerings. Nursing and residential care will continue with a growth rate of 1.9% yearly, followed by the traditional private hospitals with a 1.1% growth. All of these areas will be vying for the same healthcare professionals, which promises to be a greater challenge than we have experienced since the early 1990's.

Based largely on the demographic needs already discussed, the fastest growing occupations in the healthcare industry focus on the needs of the aging. Those include home health aides at #1 followed by personal and home care aides, pharmacy techs, PTs, PAs, PT aides, OT assistants and OT aides. Clearly examining the occupations with the largest projected job growth, RNs are the #1 need, requiring 581,500 new nurses. Additional occupations indicating large growth rate include nursing aides/orderlies/attendants followed by home health aides, personal/home care aides, LPN/LVN, physicians/surgeons and medical assistants.

The median age of the United States labor force has been steadily rising and was reported at 41.2 years of age in 2008 yet forecast to be 42.3 in 2018. This too adds to a shift in strategies for recruitment and retention as the needs of the working population change.

So now that we know the numbers, what do we do with the information? We can always be positive thinkers, but these upcoming recruitment challenges will not take care of themselves. Knowing what we will be facing in the next few years, recruiters must position themselves to be strategic and effective in every area of the hiring continuum.

From making sure the recruitment brand is on target to analyzing and enhancing the candidate experience online and in person, it all joins together for a successful program. Many times recruiters don't start recruiting for a new position by sourcing inventory already in their ATS. These candidates may have been screened out, interviewed out or possibly still a very valuable option for the new position. Any hire that comes from the inventory will result in decreased days to fill and cost per hire because part of the process has already occurred.

Sourcing, screening, interviewing and hiring must all be efficient and the onboarding for all new hires virtually seamless. Retention begins the first day of work and ongoing efforts are required in order to keep turnover and excessive costs at a minimum.

This is where HR professionals must continue to source out the best possible solutions in all of these areas so that the outcomes will yield the results we need for the healthcare industry and the ROI that the "C" level is going to demand.

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