March 19, 2021 – According to executive recruiters who ply their trade in the healthcare sector, executive leadership talent across the space is in higher demand than ever. The pandemic likely accelerated the trend, but as we head toward a post-COVID-19 era demand is likely to only increase more. Across the industry, many professionals who would otherwise be prospective candidates are choosing to remain at their organizations to help their teams ride out the final days of the pandemic, according to a new report by Cejka Search. Further, social distancing has halted in-person events, which often serve as prime networking opportunities for meeting interested parties. In response to COVID-19, the report says that executives may be tempted to leave the healthcare field and turn to leadership opportunities within other industries. Time will tell.
With executive leadership talent in such high demand, Cejka says that it is critical for healthcare organizations to make a positive impression on potential candidates for their key leadership roles. “Locating highly qualified candidates for a C-level or other leadership position can, of course, be a complex and time-consuming process for current organization leaders dealing with the fast pace of day-to-day operations compounded by the demands of the pandemic,” the search firm said.
Health leaders who have filled executive leadership positions are familiar with the challenges and implications of the process and hiring decisions.
Methods for Attracting Top-Level Healthcare Executive Candidates
- There is fierce competition for high-level executive candidates, and it’s not limited to other healthcare organizations: According to the Advisory Board Annual Healthcare CEO Survey, “private equity firms, health plans, retailers, and technology companies are all vying with hospitals and health systems for physician talent and are fueling unprecedented competition in the market for physician partners.”
- There is a need for new skills and roles among senior leaders “due to pressure of doing more with less, the rapid pace of mergers and acquisitions creating more and larger health systems, a rise in consumerism among patients, the increased focus on population health management, the increased complexity of insurance products and the rapid pace of advancements in healthcare technology,” according to the American College of Healthcare Executives’ white paper, “What Healthcare Leaders Should Know About Recruiting Senior Executives: Lessons from Executive Search Firms.”
Managing the Interview Process Virtually
In this brand new episode of ‘Talent Talks,’ Hunt Scanlon Media host Rob Adams is joined by Rebecca Kapphahn, VP and search consultant at Cejka Search. Ms. Kapphahn discusses the impact of COVID-19 on the interview process for healthcare leadership. She also shares some of the challenges that ‘going virtual’ has posed and how clients have been impacted by the shift. Listen Now!
- Decision-makers and recruiters have found it challenging to engage effective leadership candidates, those who can “influence with integrity…demonstrate ability to engage staff…be a master of systems…and instill customer service orientation in the organization,” according to ACHE.
- Cejka says that an executive mis-hire can be a costly investment. A poor leadership hiring decision can be a drag on the resources, reputation, productivity, performance, value and morale of an organization.
- The executive search process can be time-consuming, and exceptionally so without the assistance of a skilled executive recruitment firm, according to Cejka.
- “The hiring organization may not be making the best possible impression, the Cejka report said. “Busy leaders may not have considered how they can make the organization most attractive to candidates who can be an asset to the team and help lead the facility into the future.”
Methods for Attracting Top-Level Healthcare Executive Candidates
Reflecting on key areas to ensure your organization is positioned as an employer of choice is a critical first step in the recruitment process. Cejka offers some areas of focus that healthcare leaders should consider for attracting best-in-class professionals and selling them on the strengths of the organization:
- Offer competitive salary and benefits, based on the most current compensation benchmarks.
- Implement incentive plans for raising HCAHPS scores, patient scores, market share, revenue goals.
- Prepare competitive packages for relocation, movers, travel, shipping, temporary housing and/or realtors.
- Focus on the benefits of the location, including schools, entertainment, geographic features, leisure; if the location is less desirable, boost other elements of the hiring package.
- Communicate perks that improve work-life balance, such as wellness programs, gym, etc.
The Cejka report says to appeal to their goals for professional growth and personal reward. The firm says to provide leadership support, training, mentorship, review and feedback. Also you can feature opportunities for professional development, continuing education, awards, accolades, and advancement. In addition, the report says to focus not only on extrinsic motivators but also mission-based intrinsic rewards like caring for underserved populations, community involvement, etc.
How COVID-19 is Transforming Healthcare Recruitment
As health systems recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, they face an ever-worsening provider shortage. Last year, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicted the U.S. would see a shortfall of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032. Now, lost revenue due to the pandemic has caused many hospitals to furlough employees and slowed, or completely delayed, recruitment efforts, according to new report by Jordan Search Consultants (JSC). The end result will be unprecedented demand for providers unlike what hospitals have ever dealt with before, the firm says.
Cejka further says to attract candidates by featuring the organization’s top assets by highlighting the organization’s strengths, such as low employee turnover, strong performance metrics, or standardized best practices. The search firm says to describe the organization’s achievements in innovation and technology, or if lacking, convey the vision for the candidate to participate or lead in these efforts.
In addition, make a positive impression and convey pride when describing the organization’s vision, mission, brand and culture. It is also important to share the organization’s diversity and equity goals and follow them when hiring at the executive level. Lastly, Cejka says to discuss the organization’s reputation, networking, relationships and partnerships within the industry and community.
Cejka says to be clear and honest in conveying intentions and expectations and recommends following these guidelines:
- Maintain transparency, especially regarding the impacts of COVID on the organization, according to the American Hospital Association.
- Convey plans for growth, increasing revenue, expansion, mergers, acquisitions, or partnerships.
- Communicate common goal for aligned senior leadership, according to the Becker’s Hospital Review.
- Describe tools available to accomplish what is needed in line with the position.
- Review organization’s social media, website, online presence, and reviews, and polish, if needed.
“Top-level candidates are attracted to organizations whose leaders believe in the vision and convey that enthusiasm during interviews and meetings,” the Cejka report said. “With attention to highlighting these organizational facets and partnership with a skilled healthcare executive recruitment team, health leaders are much more likely to find just the right match for the job.”
Cejka Search, based in St. Louis, has provided recruiting services exclusively to the healthcare industry for more than 35 years. Its client roster includes Georgetown University Hospital, Northwestern Memorial, Levine Cancer Institute, St. John Providence Health System, Tenet, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, Centene Corp., Cape Fear Valley Health and Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center.
The firm has conducted searches for an array of roles, including chief medical information officer, chief compliance officer, chief of oncology, chief medical officer, chief of pediatrics, chief of neurology, chief nursing officer, CEO, CFO, COO, department chair, chief clinical officer, medical director, and chief strategy officer.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media