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Candidate sentiment has changed: here’s what Allied Health employers need to know about attracting and retaining employees

Physiotherapist assisting a senior patient in recovery

The Healthcare and Medical industry is one of Australia’s largest, fastest-growing sectors. Employing over 14% of the country’s population, it is the second largest industry in the nation’s workforce. Underpinning its growth are key drivers, including the significant impact of Covid-19, recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care and an ageing population. It’s safe to say that over the last 18 months, the role of healthcare professionals has been brought sharply into the public consciousness. 

The demand for Allied Health professionals in particular has grown significantly since the height of the pandemic, with average growth of 29 percent in 2020/2021 compared with the previous year. It is unsurprising then, that Allied Health employers are struggling to fill roles, with occupations including Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists all ranking in the top 10 hardest occupations to fill. 

So, how can employers attract the Allied Health talent they need to meet demand and, once they have them, how can they incentivise them to stay? An effective way is to evaluate the data when it comes to employee sentiment, which has changed significantly within the Healthcare sector since the beginning of the pandemic. For example, salary or compensation is no longer one of the top four priorities for healthcare candidates when it comes to applying for roles. 

With this in mind, here are some areas Allied Health employers can focus on as part of their talent attraction and retention strategies in order to appeal to current workforce priorities. 

 

Emphasise job security 

The number one priority for healthcare workers currently is job security, which is not entirely unsurprising given the level of uncertainty both in Australia and worldwide. With 64% of candidates rating job security as their top priority when searching for a role, it is important for employers to emphasise this within their hiring strategy and Employee Value Proposition. 

This can be done by acknowledging organisational growth, stability and a long-term strategy within job ads. These can help to quieten some of the anxiety candidates might be feeling when applying for new roles. This also applies to current employees within your organisation. Employers and managers can make their workforce feel secure through developing relationships with their teams, through investing in employee training and upskilling, and simply working on relationship-building. All of these activities will aid in making employees feel valued and, in turn, invaluable. 

 

Foster a healthy working environment by reducing burnout 

For 60% of those looking for work in healthcare, an organisation’s working conditions and environment are crucial factors when considering potential roles. This is unsurprising given the extensive pressure that has been placed on healthcare workers over the last 18 months. In fact, A survey of more than 10,000 Australian healthcare workers in October 2020, found that more than half are feeling burnt out by the demands of the pandemic, 51% are experiencing anxiety and many plan to leave the workforce due to concerns about their mental health. 

To foster a healthier working environment and improve conditions, Allied Health employers can focus on reducing the risk of burn out, which consequently leads to higher stress, anxiety and depression among the workforce. There are several ways to achieve this, including developing wellbeing initiatives, training leaders so they are able to notice signs of burn out, and ensuring your organisation doesn’t promote a culture of working excessive hours or putting work ahead of personal priorities. 

As a result of creating a happier, healthier workforce, employers are more likely to see their employees acting as “brand advocates” for the organisation. The more individuals enjoy working somewhere, the more likely they are to speak highly of their employer, not just in-person but also via social media and online reviews on job sites. This is an important part of creating a strong organisational brand that can make you an employer of choice. 

 

Consider outsourcing to specialist recruiters 

When finding it challenging to source candidates, it can often be beneficial to partner with a recruitment company to aid in the process. To attract Allied Health professionals specifically, it is a good idea to opt for a specialist recruiter, that understands the specific challenges and opportunities within the market. 

Recruiters can quickly supply staff to cover specialist staffing gaps and have access to a large network of candidates with a range of qualifications and experience. These professionals will have a better understanding of where and how to most effectively find candidates in this tight market in a way that significantly expands your candidate pool and connects you with the right talent. 

 

Build a sense of community 

According to Harry Danilis, Team Leader of Bayside Group’s Allied Health division, social isolation and loneliness can be a big factor in job dissatisfaction amongst Allied Health employees. 

“Allied Health workers spend a fair bit of time working alone, particularly those driving from patient to patient without really connecting back to colleagues at their office,” he says. “This isolation is being exacerbated by the pandemic at the moment too. Healthcare workers are under immense pressure, and may feel quite alone in this, with friends and family not understanding the strain of their role.” 

It will be important for organisations to place an emphasis on cultivating a sense of community within the workforce and promoting this within their culture. This could include developing regular team-building activities or meet-ups (either online or in-person if safe to do so) and encouraging online chats between colleagues. All of these will aid in making employees feel better connected to their workplace, resulting in greater retention. 

 

Offer flexibility within employees’ schedules 

Allied Health workers identified flexibility within their working hours and schedules as their second highest incentive in accepting a job offer. And while working from home might be difficult in the Allied Health line of work given the often-required face-to-face nature of the job, there are other ways employers can create more flexibility for their employees, 

This could include anything from altering an employee’s start and finish times to accommodate commitments outside work or accommodating for reduced hours of work. This kind of flexibility also expands the available talent pool, with some potential candidates being able to work in a reduced capacity rather than full-time hours. 

  

If you require assistance searching for Allied Health professionals, partner with an agency that understands the needs of healthcare employers and contact Bayside Group today.

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