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Strategies For Dealing With Hospital Staffing Shortages

In a hospital, a janitor wearing a hairnet, face mask and blue scrubs, cleans the bottom of a portable intravenous medication stand.

The biggest challenges facing hospitals

Hospitals face several staffing challenges that can slow their growth. They need to hire custodians, facilities technicians and other professionals to keep their facilities pristine and comfortable. These maintenance workers are in high demand due to the ongoing staffing shortage in hospitals. Additionally, their skills are needed in other industries, so hospitals aren’t just competing with each other to attract the best workers.

The healthcare industry is growing. New and expanding hospitals need to find the staff to accommodate the rise in demand for their services. Aerotek Senior Account Executive Nick Vetti has over 16 years of staffing experience. He’s spent over 10 of those years helping hospitals find the right workers for their job openings. He explains how hospitals can better attract maintenance professionals in a tight labor market. 

Strategies for dealing with staffing shortages in hospital maintenance jobs:

Reconsider hospital experience requirements

Finding new doctors isn’t easy and — during a hospital staffing shortage — finding less skilled workers is also a challenge. Vetti says that hospitals are currently struggling to find food service workers, janitors (EVS Aides) and facilities technicians. A big reason for this staffing shortage in hospitals is that many hospitals don’t consider transferable skills or focus too heavily on candidates with hospital experience. 

“A lot of the hiring managers I work with have only worked in a hospital, so they want someone with that experience. I ask them to consider workers that have the same skills, but lack the hospital experience. So if they need an HVAC technician I try to get them to consider someone who has experience working in other large buildings, not specifically in hospitals,” says Vetti.

In a candidate’s market, employers that ease hiring requirements are finding it easier to attract workers. Make sure your hospital staffing plan includes searching for candidates with transferable skills that can be tailored to the hospital environment.

“When I have a client that wants candidates with hospital experience, I explain the success we’ve had at other hospitals by relaxing that requirement. It’s easier to find someone with fast food or retail experience to work in Food Service or a housekeeper from a hotel for EVS.  These types of workers typically will jump for a better opportunity to work in healthcare,” says Vetti. 

Improve compensation

Similar to our advice on how to attract and retain welders, offering a competitive wage is an important part of staffing hospital maintenance jobs. When hiring and retaining janitors and facilities technicians, keep in mind that these skill sets are highly transferable so you’re not just competing with other hospitals. Your hospital staffing plan should include retention and incentive programs. Explore your options and determine what you can offer your workers to keep them on the team.

“One of the best retention programs I’ve seen a hospital use is a tiered approach. Workers receive a raise after three months of work then a larger raise if they stay on the job another three months. You can also add other incentives like paid time off (PTO) or a completion bonus. These programs give workers a reason to finish their assignments or convert,” says Vetti. 

For lesser skilled workers, a chance to earn a dollar more an hour can be enough for them to switch jobs. Establish a hospital staffing plan that includes incentive programs to make your job openings more attractive to candidates and to retain staff.

Bring in a hospital staffing agency 

Hospital human resources departments are busy. They’re searching for nurses, doctors, administrative support and more. Offloading the search for environmental services (custodians) and facilities technicians to a staffing agency saves time. It’s not just about finding the workers. Hospital staffing agencies help hospitals streamline their hiring processes.

“When our clients get a referral for a new worker, they’ll often have us onboard them since we can do it faster than their internal teams,” says Vetti.

Hospitals are subject to sudden increases in demand. The flu season can be a difficult time for hospitals to determine how much staff they’ll need. 

“Hospitals will always need to hire more people during flu season. They typically end up needing more people than they projected for, especially with COVID, and we help them staff up quickly.” says Vetti. 

Hospital staffing agencies can also help hospitals expand their candidate pool. The best recruiters have connections to workers with experience in other industries that can transfer to working at a hospital. 

The healthcare industry is expanding and hospitals are growing. This puts additional stress on hospitals to attract the workers needed to keep the staff and patients comfortable. If you’re struggling to find hospital talent, be sure to review your hiring requirements, adjust your compensation strategy and consider reaching out to a hospital staffing agency.

Contact us today to see how we can enhance your hospital staffing strategies.