Right now, many health systems are operating under immense financial strain – while at the same time having to expand care delivery for COVID-19-related cases. These circumstances are putting organizations in a position with no easy solution. Some systems have made the decision to furlough clinical and non-clinical talent, while others have offered voluntary furloughs to help ease the financial burden on the organization.

But necessary care remains just that – necessary. Faced with new talent challenges and the pressing need to maintain care delivery, health systems are getting creative with how they fill their personnel gaps. Here are some unique approaches that balance the need for appropriate care with long-term financial stability.

1. Maximize Existing Employees

With the goal of keeping labor costs at or below pre-pandemic levels, health systems have first focused on their existing employee base. Systems are looking to their entire staff, across all departments, as an available talent pool to fill roles where they’re needed most. Instead of hiring new employees as the requirement for clinical talent increases, maximizing the workforce already in-house means less time to onboard and train the newly assigned employees. Examples of this include:

  • Redeploying clinical staff operating within out-patient settings or med-surg into acute and urgent care departments.
  • Utilizing a tiered ICU Staffing model by pairing an experienced ICU advanced practice practitioner or a reassigned non-ICU physician with reassigned hospital staff members, to supervise multiple ICU teams.
  • Looking to non-clinical talent, even employees in corporate functions, to assist with taking temperatures for teams starting shifts, to support reception, staff call-center help lines and more.
  • Having Certified Nursing Assistants operate at the top of their license to maximize support within critical units due to the shortage of available nurses existing on staff or within the market.
  • Using hazard pay as incentive for employees operating in a different environment than usual. This has been occurring both for clinical talent being moved to front-line care and talent within support services.

2. Utilize Your Past-Candidate and Past-Employee Community

To meet staffing demands quickly, health systems are engaging previous employees (including retired employees) and warmer candidates on record from past job openings. Using their HRIS and ATS systems, they can identify and re-engage qualified talent faster than sourcing new candidates into the pipeline. Using past records and completed interviews can save even more time. These individuals in your talent pool are a huge benefit because they are familiar with your organization either generally as candidates or in-depth as past employees. Organizations are working with their existing external partners, like Cielo, to expedite these individuals joining the organization immediately as a temporary employee - significantly decreasing the time from hire to start. Consider the following individuals:

  • Recently retired nurses and clinical staff
  • Silver medalist candidates from past job searches
  • Past voluntary terminations

In addition to using an HRIS and ATS system to identify talent, organizations are using their CRM systems to tailor proactive campaign messaging and content to current candidates. Consider messages that speak to the nature of compassion and care that is found among everyone that works in the healthcare field. Other attributes to appeal to in your messaging include courage and bravery. Implore individuals to come fight on the front lines with their colleagues.

3. Partner with a Local Organization to Skills-Match Furloughed Employees

Consider furloughed employees impacted by other companies in your area as a talent pool. As companies in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries have had to make challenging decisions to temporarily furlough their staff, this provides an opportunity to partner with other local organizations to both support their impacted individuals and address your own talent shortage. As an example, these industries employ many front-line workers with the ability to serve in areas such as environmental services inside of a hospital. Consider how to match these employees with your own in-demand roles where there is a direct skills transfer.

Putting Creative Talent Solutions into Practice

A large Southern-based community healthcare system is meeting patient demand by increasing the use of contingent labor for quick scalability. Through their partnership with Cielo, a channel partner used for hiring temporary talent such as IT, has quickly expanded to support several clinical roles. Cielo also has begun overseeing the support for background/credential checks as well as payrolling on behalf of the organization. Integrating these new strategies into the overall RPO partnership has helped to ensure an efficient process and experience for candidates and hiring managers alike.

Additionally, a regional Midwestern health network has taken advantage of their database of qualified past employees and candidates to quickly re-engage needed talent. In partnership with Cielo, proactive campaigns have been created for targeted communities to efficiently move interested talent through the hiring process. In cases of incomplete contact records, Cielo has used its sourcing capabilities to quickly build up the organization’s database with complete candidate profiles for easier outreach now and in the future.

Building Creativity for the Future

Providing quality care is the first priority for any health system. Applying creative talent solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped systems fulfill their mission while improving their financial outlook during the crisis. But recent events have also made it apparent that no single solution can fully solve the talent challenges of a shifting environment. Health systems need to continue innovating and adapting to build flexibility and creativity into their approaches. Finding new ways to apply creative solutions – for both talent acquisition and talent management functions – is the path to successfully solving talent challenges of any kind.