How healthcare employers can attract allied health professionals

Allied health professional with patient

Every industry will experience periods when employing people can be particularly challenging, whether that be due to a skills shortage or increased growth and demand. With the employment landscape significantly altered by the pandemic, this has further exacerbated existing shortages in the healthcare sector.

According to SEEK’s October 2020 data, Healthcare and Medical is one of the industries to dominate the list of hard-to-fill roles, with Allied Health roles such as Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists all ranking in the top 10 hardest to fill occupations. This can likely be attributed to a few different causes.

The implications on the Australian population’s mental health due to the COVID-19 crisis has driven unprecedented demand for Allied Health professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. According to SEEKS’s Industry Insights, job ads for Phycologists, Counsellors and Social Workers have increased by 37 percent, but candidate availability is low in this area.  The pandemic has also made sourcing professionals with the relevant credentials and experience more challenging due to national and international border closures.

Furthermore, there is a growing demand for those working in areas such as Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology, particularly for school-ages children, as a result of the increasing number of special-needs cases and a broadening awareness of the benefits these services provide. This, coupled with factors associated with working in the medical industry, such as shift work, regional locations and highly specialised roles, are also making it challenging to access talent.

So, what can healthcare employers do to attract Allied Health professionals during this time? Here are some tips.


Stand out from the crowd by emphasising security

Given the high level of competition to find skilled Allied Health professionals, an employer will need to stand out from those around them who are also hiring for these roles. This will be especially important during times of uncertainty, when your ideal candidate may already have a job but is nervous about making the move given the current climate.

With levels of unemployment quite high, it is natural for employees to seek security within their job, so make your offer as appealing as possible and highlight this within your job ad. By acknowledging organisational growth, stability and a long-term strategy, you will help to quieten some of the anxiety employees might have regarding job security.


Develop a strong Employee Value Proposition

An EVP describes everything a business does to attract and retain its employees, and can include financial incentives tied to performance, perks, culture, career development, flexibility, and other benefits. A compelling EVP tailored to the priorities of Allied Health professionals will help to make you an employer of choice for candidates who may be considering other offers, and even to those who already have jobs.

However, a compelling EVP shouldn’t just include perks like a free parking spot and discounted gym membership. It should be research-driven and support the strategic direction of your company.

An increasing number of people are wanting to work for a business whose values align with their own, and candidates will often actively research companies before they even apply for a role. For this reason, an EVP that demonstrates your organisation’s values clearly and is well promoted on your job pages and ads means you are appealing to them from the get-go and differentiating yourself from others in the market.


Commit to employee health and wellbeing

A 2018 Global Talent Trends survey found that one in two employees wanted a greater emphasis placed on wellbeing at their place of work, including physical, psychological and financial wellness. This has likely only increased since the beginning of the pandemic and particularly within the healthcare sector, with Australia’s healthcare workers experiencing a significant rise in cases of anxiety, depression and insomnia during the pandemic.

A way to better attract Allied Health professionals will be through an effective workplace wellness program, something that will also be an important factor when it comes to retaining staff. To develop a successful employee wellness program, it should be tailored to your employees needs and current environment, and include a range of wellness initiatives. Depending on your organisation, some examples might be onsite health screenings, regular team lunches or access to a confidential Employee Assistance Program.

More than this though, it is important for employees to see an organisation truly make a commitment to employee health and wellbeing by creating a culture of wellness and leading by example. Consider offering employees health and wellbeing days or opportunities for stress relief, and make decisions with people’s wellbeing at the forefront. It can also be beneficial to ensure managers and those in leadership positions are adequately trained in noticing the signs of poor mental health.

A success wellbeing program won’t only aid in improving your brand, which ultimately helps to attract talent, but by advertising it to potential candidates, you’ll be incentivising your job offer.


Offer flexibility

More people than ever are looking for flexibility within their job, with a study revealing that 60 percent of Australian employees would prefer a “hybrid” model of work that sees them split their time between home and the workplace. Flexible work has been shown to not only reduce stress amongst a workforce, but also have many benefits for organisations too, including greater productivity, less sick days and better retention rate.

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, including altering an employee’s start and finish times to accommodate commitments outside work, or accommodating for reduced hours of work.

This also opens you up to a wider pool of talent. For example, you may have an individual who’s highly experienced and stepped out of the workforce for a period of time to raise a family, but may now be looking to re-enter the workforce in a reduced capacity.


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. When it comes to attracting Allied Health professionals specifically, it is a good idea to opt for a specialist recruiter, such as Austra Health, who is skilled in sourcing healthcare professionals.

Recruiters can quickly supply staff to cover specialist staffing gaps, and have access to a large database of candidates with a range of qualifications and experience. Furthermore, evidence suggests that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to recruiting Allied Health professionals, and experienced recruitment consultants will be able to create a targeted campaign that best appeals to the discipline, location and level of experience you require.


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

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