Public Healthcare Sector Recruitment Challenges
In all industries/organizations, workforce recruitment and selection is one of the most critical elements of human resource management, especially in healthcare. The pressures associated withthe implementation of this recruiting function almost doubles in the service provision industry, especially inthe healthcare industry. The main reason for recruitment is to acquire at the lowest costs, quality and skilled employees that will competently satisfy the healthcare needs and expectations (Aguirre, Koehler, Joshi, & Wilhelm, 2016). Even after making all possible considerations, the employee selection and recruitment process often facenumerous as the employers strive to formulate relevant requirements that will attract the most competent and qualified workforce. This paper, therefore, discusses some of the key challenges for recruiting workforce in the Australian public healthcare sector. In addition, the paper will further explore some possible solutions or and strategies that can help in addressing these workforce recruitment challenges. Some other key challenges public healthcare provision employers face include socio-demographics (increasing service demand and dwindling workforce supply), diversity, education and curriculum preference changes, slow and complex hiring process as well as unfavorable competition from the private sector.
Workforce Recruitment Challenges
Currently, the majority of the Australian population is aged. According to the Australian Department of health, the percentage of Australia’s population aged 65 and above is very high. This is still expected to continue increasing up to about 18 percent of the overall population. In contrast, the youth population has barely increased. This implies that the rate of public dependence on public healthcare is rising significantly with very limited qualified people to replace the retiring aged public healthcare workers. The majority of the public healthcare workers are aged and retiring in increasing numbers while there are barely enough skilled and qualified replacements (Hugo, 2013). This phenomenon creates a challenge for most employers who have to adjust to the increasing healthcare demands.
In addition, the aged public healthcare workforce faces tremendous challenges due to the continuous changes and diversification of healthcare technology as well as changing public healthcare demands and expectations (Lee Hamilton, 2002). The majority of these workers find it difficult adjusting to the changes and keeping up with the increasing healthcare demands and expectations (?iutien?, &Railait?, 2015). In the long run, most employees opt to retire early leaving the health sector without the much-needed skills and expertise. According to Rural Healthwise, 2013, the high rates of retiring baby boomers continue to have significant negative impact on Australia’s healthcare workforce. The medical, nursing, and midwifery, dental and other health-related workforce sectors are relatively aged. This creates a very challenging dilemma for employers because in as much as the public healthcare sector needs their expertise, skills, and experiences, the aged healthcare service providers are mostly prone to fatigue, health complications and other multiple personal demands that are rather daunting(Burtless, n.d.). In addition, the aged female employees are very unreliable and mostly work for fewer hours due to family commitments, and therefore recruiters are constantly faced with labor shortages and unreliable healthcare workforce (Taylor, &McLoughlin, 2015).
Diversity, Education, and Curriculum Preference changes
In the past years, Healthcare was one of the most lucrative and considered career choices in most Universities. Currently, that has changed significantly due to the changing labor market demands and preferences which have made other options such as computer science, design and other technology related spheres more lucrative compared to healthcare since they promise immeasurable opportunities and possibilities.
The changes in market and labor environment haveresulted in a shift from healthcare to other more lucrative and better rewarding career opportunities. As a result, a majority of the recent graduate population is mostly technology, business and computer program related graduates implying that as the aged healthcare workers retire, there are few people with healthcare and health-related education and skills to replace them. This means recruiters are left to scramble for the available people who may or may not have adequate skills and experiences needed in healthcare jobs. Employers also face the education versus experience dilemma for example; most recruiters grapple with the dilemma of whether to choose ahigher level of education over experience or the vice versa. A case example is where there is a choice between a Ph.D. holder with two years’ experience and a diploma holder with six years’ experience; both options have desired qualities and disadvantages. The increasing need for diversity and healthcare improvement pose significant challenges to recruiters who are pressure to readjust requirements and recruitment criteria on a daily basis in order to cope with the workforce dynamics.
The healthcare industry is a dynamic and very competitive sector. Therefore, the relatively small pool of qualified healthcare professionals in relation to the increasing public healthcare dependence and demands has resulted in stiff competition for the workforce between public and private healthcare sectors (?iutien?, &Railait?, 2015). Since themajority of the public population is aging, the dwindling numbers of available healthcare professionalsworkers have resulted in a condition whereby all the negotiation powers are with the potential employees. This puts most public healthcare recruiters in a tough spot since there is also the need to minimize labor costs while maximizing workforce output.
The current workforce demand and dwindling supply mean that employers who are able to offer the best remuneration packages win the best talents and qualified employees (Collins, 2016). The public healthcare sector is directly or indirectly regulated by the governments, and therefore its profitability potential is significantly reduced by the government’s push for comprehensive, affordable healthcare for all the citizens.This reduced profit making ability means that the public healthcare is not in a comfortable position to offer competitive salarypackages compared to the private sector. Therefore, the public healthcare sector recruiters miss opportunities for acquiring the best talents and the most suitable candidates since they are hurriedly taken by the more lucrative private heal care sector employers.
Possible Solutions and Recommendations
Recruiting Older Baby Boomers
Most recruiters are aware of the current shifts in Australia’s socio-demographics but are simply not enthusiastic about hiring or retaining old workers. Increasing interest and retiringolder workers is one of the means public healthcare sector employees can compensate for the current workforce supply shortages. This should be based on the understanding that most boomers are very skilled and experienced since they have amassed a lot of practice experiences which can be passed down to new recruits. This strategy will ensure smooth workforce transition as the employers seek ways to address the massive retiring rates and the workforce supply shortages (?iutien?, &Railait?, 2015).
Relevant advertising specifically targeted at older boomers can help in attracting the boomers to the public healthcare sector. According to Doverspike, Taylor, Shultz, &McKay, the media and other advertising materials used should incorporate older employees. They furthersuggest that since most of the current adverts are targeted at the younger generation, a more inventive approach should be formulated in order to attract the older people. These could be through advert placement in adult education centers, company retiree affairs, and civic groups as well as neighborhoods withconsiderable percentage of older people.
Attracting the younger Generation
The current younger generation tends to be very selective in choosing employers and jobs. Brosseau et al. explain that most young healthcare workers prefer an autonomous workplace and are significantly influenced by the kind of reward system including rapid salary increment and promotions in recognition of individual achievements. This according to Moschetto,presents a serious challenge to public healthcare sector recruiters in terms of compliance regulations as well as the basic incompatibilities with the traditional public sector employee compensation and remuneration systems. In order to attract the younger generation, the public health sector employers must revise and upgrade the compensation and remuneration structure. The recruiters can offer other additional benefits such as flexible working hours, as well as career growth opportunities which are more significant and appealing to the younger generation.
Subsidiary Recruitment Agencies
Currently, there are numerous agencies that are well equipped and are more efficient in sourcing for and acquiring new employees. These agencies can significantly speed up the recruitment process since the agencies have diversified and specified tools and experienced personnel for this.
Education Versus Experience
The level of education reached is very important in thehealthcaresector, however, recruiters need to evaluate employees based on their skillset and competencies when hiring. In the healthcare field, almost every position is unique and requires aspecific set of skills (Lee Hamilton, 2002). It is understandable that having employees with high academic qualifications is attractive and recommendable. However experience and skill set is more critical in the healthcare service provision and as such should be given priority.
Finally, the government must acknowledge that even though affordable public healthcare is a priority, there must be a counterbalancing measure for quality of personnel in the public healthcare sector. In order to adequately respond to the healthcare job applicant shortages, public healthcare recruiters must formulate and implement new strategies including targeted advertising which is aimed at specific employable groups, revising the remuneration packages, entry level requirements as well as an overhaul of the entire recruitment process. These are necessary in order to get workforce supply and keep up with increasing public healthcare demands and expectations (Wolter, Tarnoff, &Leckman, 2015). Public healthcare sector recruiters must also offer alternative and flexible work arrangements, emphasize on the significance of working in the public healthcare sector and also make use of Internet recruiting solutions as well as the other subsidiary recruitment agency agencies. Offered incentives such as salary increment and employee promotion must be through a process that is transparent, fair and nondiscriminatory (Aguirre, Koehler, Joshi, & Wilhelm, 2016).
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