Attracting and Retaining Talent in Healthcare

Many healthcare organizations are experiencing a challenge in attracting and retaining talent. On a past HCLDR chat, we discussed the looming shortage of physicians and nurses, but administrative and support roles are also becoming harder to fill. What can healthcare do?

Lower pay. Lack of advancement.

Over the past several years, I have heard more and more stories from hospital and practice leaders about the difficulty they have in attracting applicants for job openings in IT, physical plant, security, billing, and a host of other administrative roles. Although pay is one of the common issues, they also mention that candidates are not excited about the lack of career prospects in healthcare and the potential burnout from having to always do more with less.

Certainly for technology roles, healthcare is like many other industries – competing against startups who offer interesting work on the bleeding edge coupled with stock options. For security roles, I hear that candidates often opt for safer roles at malls and office buildings where they are much less likely to be assaulted.

Importance of good talent

To improve healthcare faster, we need more talented and motivated people.

If we don’t fill critical roles than healthcare organizations will be forced to pay more to bring in externally third-party help. That, in turn will mean higher costs. Also, if we do not attract talented people, healthcare will miss out on potential innovations. Even patient care may suffer if we don’t have enough good people in administrative and support roles.

Areas for improvement

In a study published in 2015 by Ingram and Glod, the authors identified areas for improvement when it came to HR practices in healthcare:

  1. Formal talent management programs are not perceived as valuable solutions to healthcare units’ problems
  2. Healthcare organizations focus on positions rather than identification of talent
  3. Pivotal positions are associated mainly in clinical areas not administrative ones
  4. Talent management tools used in healthcare organizations are mainly training and motivational in nature
  5. The main goal of talent management in healthcare is to maintain/improve knowledge and skills
  6. Healthcare organizations pay attention to organizational needs rather than individual ones

It will not likely come as a surprise to many in the HCLDR community that healthcare lags other industries when it comes to HR practices. Reading this 2015 study is like reading an economic textbook from a 1950s era manufacturing plant where management did not value their employees. Perhaps that is a little harsh, but just ask anyone who works in a hospital today if they feel valued by the organization. It’s rare you will get an emphatic “Yes”.

Ideas to attract & retain talent

Besides the obvious remedy of increasing pay to be on level with other jobs on the market, there are a few things healthcare organizations could do to attract and retain top talent.

First is to invest in recognizing talented individuals and nurture them through a dedicated leadership program that will give them exposure to many different areas of the organization AND get them noticed by senior leaders. Companies have been doing this in the commercial world for years. It’s time more healthcare organizations adopt this best practice.

Second, I would suggest changing how healthcare recruits for open positions. I would focus on how meaningful working in healthcare can be. Healthcare is one of the few industries where it isn’t all about the bottom line and where an individual’s work contributes to improving the lives of others. There are many people out there who are tired of working for soulless corporations where their contribution is simply to add to shareholder profits. Healthcare is a place where their work can have meaning again. That is a powerful motivator that can be leveraged.

What ideas do you have?

Next HCLDR Chat

Join us on the next #HCLDR chat – Tuesday May 18th at 8:30pm ET (for your local time click here) when we will be discussing the following:

  • T1 Is it important that healthcare attract talented people or should we just accept we can’t compete and find better ways to outsource and automate?
  • T2 What ideas do you have for ATTRACTING top talent to healthcare?
  • T3 What ideas do you have for RETAINING top talent in healthcare? What can managers do? What can the organization do?
  • T4 Share a story of when you felt valued by a supervisor or an organization you worked for. What did they do to make you feel valued?


Ingram, Tomasz and Glod, Wojciech. “Talent management in healthcare organizations – qualitative research results”, Procedia Economics and Finance, 28 November 2015,, accessed 17 May 2021

Bryant, Meg. “How to attract, nurture and retain top talent in healthcare”, Healthcare Dive, 28 November 2016,, accessed 17 May 2021

Hancock, Bryan and Schaninger, Bill. “HR says talent is crucial for performance—and the pandemic proves it”, Mckinsey, 27 July 2020,, accessed 17 May 2021

Kabene, S. M., Orchard, C., Howard, J. M., Soriano, M. A., & Leduc, R. “The importance of human resources management in health care: a global context”, Human resources for health, 27 July 2006,, accessed 17 May 2021

Solovay, Amy. “How Hiring Managers Can Attract and Retain Healthcare Staff”, The SHRM Blog, 28 October 2020,, accessed 17 May 2021

Image Credit

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

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