I know we are only a few days into 2011 but I can already feel a change. The dourest economists are predicting we will create an average of 240,000 new jobs each month in 2011, and while that won't replace the eight million lost, it is a move in the right direction. When the unemployment figures for December 2010 were announced last week, the drop to 9.4% was the lowest in 18 months. The economy seems to be clinging to fragile growth and people are becoming a little more optimistic.
Healthcare never wavered during the downturn and created a total of about 860,000 new jobs during the Great Recession, which began December 2007. The healthcare unemployment rate is still around 3.0% and facilities are reporting a vacancy rate of somewhere around 3.8%. Most of the created healthcare positions have been in long-term and ambulatory care, but there were plenty of jobs created in all healthcare delivery sectors, including acute care.
So, if the economy is turning around, will we be creating even more healthcare jobs? Will vacancy rates rise and recruiters become overwhelmed? Not especially. The demand will remain fairly stable with about 30,000 healthcare jobs created each month, so increased universe won't be the problem. The challenge will be the employees who have bottled up frustration about their jobs and a ready attitude of abandoning them quickly.
USA Today reported on a survey they conducted in December where they found that 68% of workers—in all sectors—planned on changing jobs in 2011. More people found jobs in December 2010 than lost them, and that included sectors who had routinely lost jobs in previous months. Gallup interviewed a million workers and found that not only were they getting ready to hand in their resignations, as many as 55% were going to do it even if they didn't have another position. "I don't care anymore" said one of the interviewed twenty somethings, "I can live off my savings and besides I don't have a lot of expenses." In fact, 72% of those who planned on quitting without another job lined up cited their savings as bridging the gap between paychecks.
But it's not just the young who are planning on quitting. Fifty-five percent of those in the USA Today poll who were planning on resigning were 34-49 years of age. The older Baby Boomers are looking at cutting back as well and now that a few more jobs are floating around, healthcare workers don't have the need to carry the load financially. The kids are grown and the mortgages are low or paid off.
For the last 18 months, healthcare workers who quit reported the main reason was because they did not see a clear career path. But according to Gallup, the immediate supervisor is once again the top reason people are quitting. "My supervisor routinely diminishes me" said a 34-year-old RN who practices in a Midwestern ICU. "She takes pleasure in knowing my husband has been out of work. Well, guess what, he's back among the employed!"
It's not likely that many of those planning on moving can or should be persuaded to stay, but what should be done about what most assuredly will become a wave of new open requisitions? Consider the workings of internet dating and then consider how to turn that concept into finding the employees you want. LinkedIn has become the recruitment equivalent of the eHarmony dating site, and recruiters need to re-think how they are going to find the hard-to-find candidates if there is going to be any hope of appropriately filling the open positions.
While the economy has been languishing and now painfully recovering, a new world has been developing on the internet. This new recruitment landscape may come as a shock to many recruiters who think they will be able to go back to doing business as usual. Today's skilled workers want to be romanced, not summoned. They want someone to find them and ask them, politely, pleasantly, to come in and have a look see at the work environment. They are not planning on searching for jobs in the traditional places, but rather they want to be sought. And, like any individual who posts a profile on a dating site, they want to be found which means they are open to job possibilities.
LinkedIn, the social site most attuned to recruitment and business relationships, is not the only site which should be routinely mined by recruiters. Don't forget the more social of the social sites such as facebook and twitter. They can be mined as well, for professional qualifications and job histories. Plus, all those sites are connected because someone knows someone else. Today's candidates are more likely to respond to a job when it is found through a relationship—even a distant one—as opposed to going blindly into the process.
Best practice recruiting functions in healthcare today have full-time social miners and highly developed plans utilizing LinkedIn and other research tools that turn up candidates who aren't openly looking for another position. In big facilities there may be room for a traditional recruiter or two, but more and more, the ones making a difference are the "hunters" and not the paper pushers.
Websites are more important than ever in this social-internet-recruiting world. Highly sought candidates want to look at the healthcare system before committing to that first date, so healthcare systems better have their best photos and tightly composed selling features posted in a creative and attractive way. Today it's all about the romance and the sell so be prepared for the resignations and the new world of "internet-date-like" recruiting. Then, don't forget that unless the supervisors remember their manners, the door will just keep revolving.