Taking the Pulse of the Healthcare Workforce: Highlights from ASHHRA 2019

Prospects at a Bright Horizons booth at ASHHRA 2019

The following post comes from Bright Horizons Senior Marketing Specialist, Amanda Cozzens.

What’s the secret to keeping healthcare employees engaged after their first day on the job?

Start onboarding before the first day.

That’s just one of the creative ideas from the recently wrapped ASHHRA conference, where presenters talked record low unemployment, future gaps, and how they’re surviving. 

The strategies are a big deal. The current talent market is a tough one, where unemployment seems like it couldn’t possibly get any lower – until it does. Standing-room-only sessions about issues like retention and first-year employee turnover illustrate a field of worried leaders looking for creative answers.

A few ASHHRA highlights showing how employers are stepping up: 

Stop the bleeding: The window between job offer and first day leaves people plenty of time to change their minds; the employer behind the above pre-first-day-onboarding program wanted to make sure they don’t. The exhaustive effort includes new-hire welcome calls; video text messages from the CEO saying, “I’m glad you chose us”; and assigned “ambassadors” providing first-week tips, like where to eat lunch or find the restrooms. All part of a wide-reaching program aimed at retention during the notoriously dicey first year after hire. And it worked, with retention up 15%.  

Take care of employees: Welcomes and text messages aren’t performance art, but part of the larger effort to make sure employees know they matter. That culture rules was evident everywhere at the conference, with ASHHRA presenters talking up employee recognition, carefully timed check-ins, and in-person conversations -- all aimed at connecting employees to the organization, the mission, and each other. As one presenter put it, “When it comes to retention, it’s all about the relationships.”

Respond where it hurts: Checking in with people is step one. Successful cultures go a step further, using the intel gained from conversations to understand employee problems and then troubleshoot relief.  Debt, for example, came up as a major problem for healthcare employees -- a group that owes more for education than almost any other sector. “If you want to recruit and retain top talent for your health care system,” wrote the speaker of the session on debt repayment, “you need to be thinking about student loans.”

Employee-centric responses are key everywhere, but nowhere more than healthcare where talent challenges are hitting on multiple fronts. Jobs are growing – 4-million-plus in the next seven years, said ASHHRA Board President Sarah Fredrickson – more than in any other field. Mass retirements are imminent. Gaps are threatened everywhere. 

The answer will come down to people. And the employers who land on top will be the ones that successfully connect to them.  After all, as author and healthcare executive Britt Berrett put it in his ASHHRA keynote, “Exceptional results require exceptional teams."

Healthcare professional sitting in his office

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Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

October 9, 2019

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.