19,600 in hospitals, 45,600 in ambulatory care, 17,500 in nursing and residential care facilities and 16,500 in physician offices. Those are the new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the total (99,200) of new health care jobs during the first quarter of 2011. The industry is climbing out of the status quo that we have experienced for the past two years and seeing positive changes in the environment.
Having attended some recruiter meetings in different Western states recently, it was energizing to hear the recruitment buzz. In roundtables, most of the recruiters mentioned the increase in new graduate RN hires for June. Although there were reports of receiving hundreds of applications for 20-25 positions, at least the open job requisitions indicated an increase from 2009 and 2010. Hiring certainly hasn’t returned to the pre-recession levels, but it is showing a definite trend in the right direction.
With the hiring upsurge comes the issue of turnover, and the exodus is beginning to occur. One recruiter told me recently that their vacancy rate had been hovering at 3% for about 18 months, and they realize that their complacency during that time is now apparent. The vacancy rate at her organization is now 9%, and turnover is creeping up each month. Not only are tenured staff beginning to retire, but employees that have been hesitant to leave a known employer to go to an unknown are now ready to take that plunge. People are beginning to move again, spouses are getting jobs, and employees are opening themselves up to more risk yet feeling comfortable with that decision.
General unemployment was 8.8% in March 2011 and has remained fairly level. Health care unemployment was 5.3% in March 2011 and is forecast to continue to decrease on a steady basis. As we think about the growing need for health care workers for the future, as well as the change in our industry in the last 6 months, what does this mean for HR professionals?
As a VP, Manager or Recruiter in health care HR, the challenges are definitely before you. Knowing the road ahead means being about to navigate down the road, and it will never be in a straight direction. It is about knowing which fork to take, when to turn left or right, when to run and when to walk, and certainly when to stop! Having an open mind about new and creative ways to reach new employees will be important to keeping the vacancy and turnover rates within a reasonable percentage.
Those of us that have been working in HR or with HR professionals in health care for many years absolutely see the need to DO IT DIFFERENTLY. Years ago, recruitment could function like Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” That hasn’t worked for many years in health care, but moving employers beyond the traditional methods has not been easy. It is normal to do what we know, but growth and success come from doing what we learn.
Although we know that some traditional recruitment methods will always be around, be flexible in your approach to recruitment in 2011 and beyond. True HR leaders for the future are described well by a quote by Leroy Elmes: “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.” Let that be YOU.