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Why Healthcare Companies Are Embracing Skills-Based Hiring

In the dynamic realm of healthcare, organizations find themselves grappling with surging attrition rates and acute shortages in specialized roles, as well as intensifying competition for skilled professionals. 

As technology advances, patient demographics shift, and medical practices evolve, skills-based hiring has become increasingly popular – as a topic, if not a realized strategy. What is it, how does it work, and why does it bring benefits to the healthcare sector? 

What is Skills-Based Hiring? 🤔

Skills-based hiring is a recruitment approach that focuses on assessing and prioritizing the specific skills and competencies required for a particular job… and then matching people to work on this basis. Rather than solely relying on traditional qualifications, such as degrees and certifications, skills-based hiring emphasizes a candidate’s practical abilities – and potential to contribute meaningfully to the organization.

Research by BCG and Lightcast found a decrease in the share of job ads that require degrees in the healthcare sector (for example, support roles, such as lab technicians, hospital staff, and medical practice managers) across all five countries they analyzed. 

“When there is opportunity, we have moved away from... the traditional approach of degree programs and certain education programs as a requirement, and started to look more at what are the skills an individual has in order to allow them to be successful in the role.” – Jami B Sinick, Vice President Talent Acquisition, Banner Health

How to Implement Skills-Based Hiring in Healthcare 👩🏽‍⚕️

The process of skills-based hiring involves breaking down the work, identifying necessary skills, and evaluating who is best equipped to deliver.

Define Job Requirements Clearly

Develop detailed job descriptions that outline the specific skills and competencies needed for success in a particular role. Create a (dynamic and contextual) Job Architecture, and consider bringing in external labor market insights, to ensure your data set is as useful and usable as possible. 

Build Skills Intelligence 

Collect data about employees, candidates, previous applicants and alumni – what skills they have, and skills they likely have – in one place, and then keep it up to date (this can be done dynamically with the right technology.) 

Indeed, AI can ensure that even adjacent and potential skills are flagged, to help you better gauge best-fit candidates. 

You can then connect your jobs to the skills you have and need, matching people to open and upcoming jobs. 

skills

Use Skills Assessments

Incorporate skills assessments, practical tests, and scenario-based interviews into the hiring process. Candidates would be asked in interviews how they have (or would) demonstrate a particular skill, and there would be a standardized approach to assessing the skills they bring to the table.

These tools provide concrete and objective evidence of a candidate’s abilities, and (alongside AI-powered recommendation engines) can help in making more informed hiring decisions.

Collaborate with Educational Institutions

Skills-based hiring doesn’t mean ignoring educational attainment altogether. Healthcare companies are already fostering partnerships with educational institutions to ensure that what students are learning aligns with the industry's evolving needs. This collaboration can contribute to a pool of graduates with the right skills, reducing the gap between academic preparation and real-world application.

In order to widen the talent pool, increase fairness and find better candidate matches, organizations like Banner Health are partnering with local high schools and trade schools, and community colleges, as opposed to traditional educational institutions. 

“We may be looking at it differently, but we are opening up those floodgates of candidates who may have been hesitant in the past to apply to a healthcare organization because they don't have a bachelor's or a master's.” – Jami B Sinick, Vice President Talent Acquisition, Banner Health

Promote Lifelong Learning

Encourage a culture of continuous learning within the organization. Provide opportunities for professional development, training, and upskilling to keep healthcare professionals abreast of the latest advancements in their field.

“I think one of the big things that as a talent acquisition function that we evaluate is not always about the skills itself, but how do we help the hiring managers, how do we help the business leaders, understand the area and the opportunity to… teach, educate, and coach these individuals on what they don’t have.” – Adam Artar, Director, Global Talent Acquisition, Edwards Lifesciences

Benefits Of Skills-Based Hiring In Healthcare 🌡️

In our recent survey of business leaders, Navigating The Changing Talent Landscape, 83% of our respondents in Healthcare agreed that skills-first hiring can better align the needs of employers and employees, making work work better for everyone.

Close skills gaps 

64% of Healthcare leaders said that increasing skills shortages is one of the biggest challenges they face in the coming year. It’s not just about demand outstripping supply – rapid technological innovation means candidates need more and more specific technical know-how. 

Meanwhile, in the US alone, 70 million people can be categorized as “STARs”, or “skilled through alternative routes” (workers without bachelor’s degrees). Removing degree qualifications certainly widens the available talent pool. 

Skills-based hiring allows organizations of all kinds to fill those gaps better and faster, with a more precise understanding of the talent in their pool. It can ensure that candidates possess the technical know-how needed to, for example, navigate electronic health records, telemedicine platforms, and other tech-driven aspects of modern healthcare.

Skills-based hiring may also help you uncover talent with interpersonal skills, empathy, and effective communication – qualities essential for delivering patient-centric care. Hiring individuals with these attributes ensures a focus on the human side of healthcare, contributing to improved patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Forrester reports that skills-first hiring criteria are 5 times more predictive of an individual’s future job performance than educational background, and 2.5 times more predictive than work experience. 

Identify training needs (and upskilling opportunities) 

The American Hospital Association estimates that the industry will face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians in 2033 and, in order to keep up with demand, US hospital systems will need to hire at least 200,000 nurses per year.

Recognizing the skills possessed by employees allows organizations to tailor training and development programs, helping to bridge skill gaps effectively with reskilling or upskilling initiatives. This is a win/win for healthcare organizations that are trying to anticipate the skills that will be needed in the future, and want to keep staff engaged today. 

“We need to understand the skills of our workforce today, align that with the skills for the jobs we have today, as well as the skills and workforce we need for the future.” Sarah E Keisling, Associate Vice President, Talent Management and HR Operations, Banner Health

Unlock efficiencies

Skills-based hiring also streamlines the recruitment process by honing in on the specific capabilities required for the job. This not only saves time but also reduces the cost associated with prolonged hiring cycles.

Prioritizing skills over traditional factors reduces bias in the hiring process, leading to a more diverse and inclusive candidate pool. 

By prioritizing practical competencies over traditional qualifications, healthcare organizations can build agile, adaptable, and patient-focused teams that are well-equipped to meet the challenges of the future. In embracing skills-based hiring – with the data infrastructure,  the healthcare sector can unlock the full potential of its workforce, ensuring the delivery of high-quality care in a rapidly changing landscape.
 

Learn more about becoming a skills-first organization.