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Top 10 Healthcare Workforce Trends for 2011

February 15

In the most recent Stat Line, Sandy Haberle, Vice President Healthcare Practice at TMP, discussed her "2011 Plan of Attack". The article offered a foundation for Human Resources to develop an action-oriented recruitment plan — essentially a 2011 "To Do List." For this month's piece, I'd like to broaden the focus and identify the top ten trends to consider as we prepare workforce strategies for the New Year.

The upcoming year will present a unique "perfect storm" in the world of healthcare workforce planning — that will likely generate a visible shift in workforce related issues. The storm will be rising as a result of the following colliding events: the initial impact of Healthcare Reform on the workforce and HR; employees actively planning for retirement or pursuit of new job opportunities for the first time in several years; and finally, the universal adoption and ubiquity of digital media in our culture resulting in innovative new methods to communicate ideas and opportunities. All of this will create the opening for a perfect storm, or mash-up as my colleagues say.

So without further ado, I give you the 2011 Healthcare Workforce Trends to keep an eye on, in no particular order:

  1. A generational workforce shift will occur due to an emerging economy, overall work fatigue by baby boomers and a desire to move on, resulting in retirements in large numbers.
  2. Increased turnover will create shortages in key clinical and management areas. Additionally, employees will no longer be content just to have a job. As new job opportunities surface, the war for talent will begin to re-emerge.
  3. The leadership gap will reach dangerous proportions. A pipeline of new talent to fill the gap and to provide new ideas and energy will be mission critical for success.
  4. Employee engagement will be a crucial element to any and all workforce communication plans. Innovative approaches and programs that reach employees in forums that they chose, on their terms, will be expected.
  5. Expansion of diversity and inclusion initiatives will take a front seat. There is growing interest in the CLAS standards that have been in place for ten years and are currently being re-evaluated. There is no doubt that a diverse workforce positively effects quality, patient outcomes and the bottom line. As such, diversity and inclusion efforts will take a prominent place in all workforce initiatives.
  6. Increased need for advanced practice clinicians will continue to be an essential ingredient to meet staffing demands. As physician recruitment becomes more challenging and healthcare reform initiatives are implemented, advanced practice clinicians will assume an expanded role in providing patient care.
  7. Social and digital media adoption will no longer be questioned because of its obvious ROI, as well as the timeliness, the ubiquity and reach that it provides.
  8. A fully-differentiated employer brand will matter even more as the war for talent increases. Targeted communications and messaging through internal and external channels including websites, social media and general attraction strategies will be expected requirements to meet future recruitment demands in a competitive marketplace.
  9. Metrics, Metrics, Metrics — the need for cold, hard detailed facts regarding sourcing, time to fill/hire, new hire overall recruitment ROI as well as new employee satisfaction will continue to be essential tool for every recruiter and HR leader in order to best define their contribution to the business.
  10. Necessity for all employees to understand the healthcare business will be non- negotiable. Inclusion of healthcare finance 101 training will become a standard element of new employee orientation and annual learning requirements in order to engage the entire workforce in their role within the business of healthcare.

My 2011 Magic Eight ball tells me it's no longer a matter of "if" these trends will occur rather it is a question of "when". They may not happen all at once and there may be some twists and turns along the way, but honestly, isn't that one of the things that keeps healthcare recruitment dynamic and engaging. We will all keep track as 2011 unfolds, but for now, many wishes of health and happiness to you and to yours for a wonderful new year!

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