After They Leave

February 15

The past few months I have shared information about the healthcare industry, the challenges ahead and the drivers for change. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists healthcare as the fastest growing sector at a growth rate of 2.3% per year during the next 7 years and this has a major impact on the strategies required in Human Resources.

Recently we have begun to see an exodus of skilled, highly educated professionals who have voluntarily left their jobs. In March 2010, 1.5 million people made this move while the following month that figure rose to 2.1 million. As this number continues to increase, it is clear that people are feeling slightly more comfortable in looking for and accepting new positions rather than staying put as they have for the last couple of years. We are already seeing many healthcare organizations watching their vacancy rates rise and now we are at the brink of watching the turnover rates begin to follow. Be prepared - the change is on the horizon.

Many organizations do very little when valuable employees walk out the door. Perhaps they collect exit data but most often that is really "too little, too late". Many study the data of the percentages of exits due to relocation, school, retirement and other employment but very few absorb the information and actually use it to effect change. In order to meet the future recruitment needs in the healthcare industry, maintaining a relationship with those exiting employees will be crucial.

What are you doing at your organization? As we watch the changes that are occurring, perhaps some of the following suggestions make sense in your hospital or healthcare facility.

  • Alumni site — Having a section on your website for past employees is a unique way to stay in touch and can offer many opportunities to share updated information from the organization. Whether it is stories about returning employees or the latest press releases, the dialogue is able to continue with the professional that you would like to re-employ.
  • Opt in newsletters — Whether this is accomplished as a stand-alone or as part of the alumni site, the sharing of information on a routine basis is important in maintaining the relationship. Make sure to capture an email address for each exiting employee.
  • Blogs — Blogs may be about the organization, clinical or general, but they continue to share information that often times will spark interest for a past employee to return.
  • Social sites — Be active on social networking sites! Participate in the conversations; promote the organization even through personal networks on Facebook, etc.
  • CEU/CME — Make sure to offer any CEU/CME events to past employees. When they return for an educational event, they may network with some of their favorite past co-workers who just might become recruiters at the event.
  • Social events — Open houses, summer picnics and other social events can also be a natural opportunity to reunite with past employees. This may help them realize what they are missing.
  • Maintain engagements in the affinity groups online.
  • Opportunity to participate in a float pool or in per diem positions — This is something that should be approached anytime a valuable employee turns in their resignation. Although this isn't available for all positions, it is frequently offered for hard-to-fill professionals.
  • External referral programs — Although most progressive organizations offer employee referral programs, few open the referral option to past employees or the community at large. With the proper guidelines and ERP rules, this type of program can be a valuable asset and a great retention tool.
  • Online chats — Chats are sometimes available for applicants to converse with recruiters but perhaps setting up a time for past employees to join a call might be a valuable way to continue to offer the excitement of working at the organization. The more opportunity you have to get it front of that departed employee, the more chance of success.
  • Networking events — Small social events onsite or offsite also continue to be time well spent.
  • Keep in touch program — Programs that allow exiting employees access to peers and managers can also be helpful. These can be done through online channels, chats or even in person events.

Although these few ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, it is time to be strategic. "Re-recruiting" employees on an ongoing basis is so important for retention, but if the time comes that the employee exits, it is equally important to continue that relationship. With all of the new and replacement positions that the healthcare industry is going to need in the next few years, it is important to stay in touch with those professionals that you would like to have back in your organization. Have fun, stay in touch and be creative!

Special thanks for input from Jill Horwitz, VP Chief Client Officer, TMP Worldwide

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