Attracting Qualified Candidates in a Tight Labor Market

By Jodi Schafer, SPHR, SHRM-SCP HRM Services |

Q: Like many employers in this job market, we are struggling to recruit new staff. We have many positions unfilled including nurses, medical assistants and office staff.
What are some new strategies we
might try to stand out from our competitors and attract qualified candidates to our practice?

You are right. It is a tight labor market right now. The “great resignation” that started in 2021 and continues into 2022 is leaving many jobs unfilled and employers struggling. Michigan currently has 190,000 fewer people in the workforce as compared to pre-pandemic numbers and a labor force participation rate of 59.5%; 41st lowest in the nation. These trends mean that the labor shortage is unlikely to change anytime soon.

So, how can your practice stand out from others and attract qualified candidates? There are several strategies you might consider beyond what you may already do as part of your traditional recruiting process. This job market is forcing employers to adapt their way of doing business.

Offer More Part-Time Positions.

Providing more part-time options may be attractive for several reasons including offering flexibility with child care arrangements and supporting more work-life balance. Women make up the majority of medical practice and office staff. Women are still primarily responsible for handling home and child care arrangements for their families and after becoming a parent, women are more likely to switch to a job with greater flexibility. Offering part-time positions may appeal to trained staff that left the workforce previously, enticing them to rejoin. Also, don’t forget about your current employees. Offering a part-time option may help retain existing staff who are experiencing burnout.

Of course, there are additional considerations when offering part-time options, including decisions on what benefits to offer and scheduling considerations, but these costs and logistical details may pay off in recruiting and retaining talent. Start by talking with your existing employees about their interest in part-time options. You can also test out the option with a couple of staff to assess how it works and then decide to expand from there.

Consider Offering Evening Appointments.

You may be thinking, what does evening scheduling have to do with recruiting and retaining staff? Along with part-time options, there are a segment of workers who may appreciate working non-traditional hours, including those who have someone at home able to provide child care in the evening. You may have patients who appreciate this option too!

Provide Additional Benefits.

Support with child care costs and continuing education may give you the edge as compared with other practices. If you don’t already offer retirement match and/or student loan payment assistance, these can set you apart too.

Pay Attention to Your Image.

With a tight labor market, employees can be choosier on where they want to work. Employees want to work at practices that treat their staff and patients well. If your patient reviews are not positive overall (more than just a periodic bad review), it could mean that there are other issues happening in the practice that need attention. Discontent in a practice not only impacts patient satisfaction, but employee recruitment and retention as well. And if there are other employment options that look more attractive as a place to work, high quality employees will choose to apply somewhere else.

In addition to paying attention to online reviews, spend some time marketing your practice online via social media and your website. Potential employees are researching your practice and you want them to see a place that looks professional.

Build Your Future Workforce.

Do you have office staff who are interested in learning a clinical role or clinic or medical assistants who are burned out with direct patient care and interested in working in business operations? Do you partner with your local high school career institute, community college or advanced degree programs by providing internships, clinical rotations or other shadowing opportunities for students/residents? Building up your talent pipeline is a long-term strategy to cultivate your future workforce.

While these strategies may not be an immediate fix, together they can help build and retain a high-quality workforce for the long term.