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Healthcare employment rates are on the rise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But while hiring has started making its post-COVID comeback, so has an issue that industry professionals have been battling for some years now: the nursing shortage.

Nursing is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the US, representing nearly 50% of the healthcare workforce. Registered nurses (RNs) are among BLS’s top occupations for job growth through 2029. The nursing workforce is predicted to grow from 3 million in 2019 to 3.3 million in 2029, an average increase of 7%. 

Due to a rapidly aging Baby Boomer generation of over 70 million Americans, this demand for nurses is only likely to rise along with the need for space in long-term care facilities. But even with low federal staffing requirements, which include one RN per 60 residents 8 hours a day and LPNs available around the clock, the influx of new nurses won’t be enough. 

The BLS projects nearly 176,000 new job openings a year around the country as Baby Boomer nurses also reach retirement age. A total of one million nurses are expected to leave the workforce by 2030. 

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported only a 5% increase in enrollment for nursing programs in 2019, insufficient to keep up with the rapidly increasing senior population. For CNAs, concerns about a lack of career path and insufficient wages and protection during COVID-19 have increased the shortage in the past year.

4 Ways HR Can Help Solve the Nursing Shortage

Faced with a limited supply of good talent in upcoming years, HR teams need to be able to source and attract candidates while staying competitive as an employer.

Here are a few healthcare recruitment strategies to help you combat the nursing shortage.

Make it easier for nurses to get hired

The average time-to-hire for the healthcare industry is about 49 days, according to data from DHI Group. Recruitment tech platforms can drastically reduce days-to-hire from over a month to less than a week through intuitive, applicant-friendly solutions. These tools create efficient recruiting experiences so candidates can move seamlessly through applications, screening, and interviews and get hired as soon as possible. 

Apploi has invested heavily in helping healthcare organizations reduce the nursing shortage by developing new solutions for healthcare recruitment and onboarding.

An effective recruitment tech platform will help you:

  • Publish job posts across a wide range of job boards and social sites so candidates can easily find, share, and apply for career opportunities.
  • Simplify the application process and cut out complicated paperwork, ensuring that you don’t lose talent along the way.
  • Automate interview scheduling and document creation like offer letters and onboarding packets.
  • Validate licenses and credentials quickly so you can get your offer in ahead of the competition.

Use data to drive hiring decisions

Effective recruiting isn’t just about technology. It relies on leveraging data to make strategic hiring decisions and gain a better understanding of the market. Data-driven decisions also allow your facility to determine how effective your recruiting methods are and target ideal candidates more efficiently.

Prioritize data-gathering techniques at every step of your recruitment process, from job post publication to onboarding. These should include tracking workforce trends, job search referral sources, and analyzing your job post performance and candidate conversion rates.

Use follow-ups and surveys to get feedback from interviewees and new hires on recruiting methods and tools. These strategies can also help you gain insight into why candidates picked your facility over another. For applicants who decided against accepting a job offer, consider a post-interview check-in to ask why they made a different choice and how you can improve your hiring process.

Provide resources to prevent burnout

Nurses and CNAs have been struggling with workplace stress and mental health concerns for years. Skilled nursing facility staff were reported to have higher burnout rates than hospital staff in 2019 and the pandemic’s high death toll in nursing homes has only exacerbated the issue.

Here are a few ways you can address workplace pandemic burnout:

  • Foster a healthy work environment. Create a safe workplace for your nurses and nursing assistants with a dedicated wellness space where your team can relax, eat, and nap between shifts. Consider offering healthy meals, fitness programs, or childcare assistance to support your team in and outside of work.
  • Prioritize their need for downtime. Establish a habit of giving employees monthly or quarterly “mental health days” to help relieve workplace stress. Ensuring that shift schedules are flexible can help encourage them to unwind knowing their time off is covered.
  • Update your Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Consider adding practical and supportive resources like on-site or virtual counseling, mental health self-screening, and workshops that will help them take advantage of employee benefits.

Create career paths and leadership development opportunities

Long-term care facilities are known for high staff turnover rates, making it imperative for your HR team to employ recruiting strategies that promote employee retention and job satisfaction.

Your facility can win on multiple fronts by offering on-site career and leadership development as a workplace benefit. These benefits help attract and retain nurses and nursing assistants looking for long-term positions with career advancement opportunities. They can also help you attract applicants outside of skilled nursing facilities and long-term care who are interested in a career change or who want to pursue a definite career path.

A few ideas for your own facility:

  • Promote internal career paths. Prioritize internal promotions, especially when it comes to senior and management roles so nurses and nursing assistants can follow an upward trend within your organization.
  • Support continuing education. Offer certification training and licensure support. Encourage staff to pursue advanced degrees with incentives like tuition reimbursement, pay increases, and periodical promotions.
  • Provide professional development resources. Build your reputation as a supportive employer with career seminars and in-service days, educational lunch-and-learns, and individual career coaching. 
  • Consider on-site program partnerships. Encourage internal career growth by working with local nursing schools to offer accelerated, part-time, online, and bridge programs for CNAs, LPNs, and RNs.

Apploi offers an end-to-end, customizable platform that reduces your days-to-hire across facilities. Interested in learning more? Contact us today for a free demo.