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A Better (and Smarter) Approach to Nurse Recruitment

Posted in Articles | 5 min read

One in three registered nurses who provide direct patient care may quit their jobs in the next year.

That little fact is from a recent survey by McKinsey & Company, as reported in Beckers Hospital Review in February of 2023.

From our experience at LIFT Healthcare, when it comes to nurse attrition, it appears that there are three things causing nurses to leave the bedside:

1) Burnout and frustration

2) Opportunities for more compensation

3) Retirement (just to get away from what is perceived as a toxic or unnecessarily stressful work environment)

Reality is Setting In

Nursing staff shortages are real, and the drive to hire and keep nurses has never been stronger. Every healthcare system in America is facing challenges in recruiting nurses and other clinical staff, and many are seeking assistance from their marketing partners.

At LIFT, our clients all tell us that recruiting nurses is an important challenge and that traditional recruiting methods are falling short. Many of our clients are offering sign-on bonuses and other incentives to attract new nursing staff to join their teams. And, simultaneously system leadership is hustling to redefine the work environment and processes in order to help nursing staff do the important work of caring for the sick.

When it comes to the challenges of recruiting, our clients typically tell us three things:

  1. Job boards are cluttered with the same messages from every hospital.
    They tell us that they feel “stuck in the mud.” They know that they are doing the same thing everyone else is doing—fishing in the same shrinking pond for the same elusive fish while…
  2. Traditional approaches seem to be ineffective.
    And they tell us that they are adamant that what has worked in the past will not work in today’s post-Covid marketplace and that their efforts seem to be inadvertently driving up costs while reducing their likelihood of success. They say they are looking for a better way to find and recruit fresh clinical staff.
  3. HR is coming to marketing for help.
    They tell us that they are looking for a fresh approach to solving their nurse and physician recruiting problems. Most, if not all of them, say they are more interested than ever in leveraging a holistic strategy built on a relationship between HR and marketing and grounded in quality data and an understanding of what’s motivating the nurses and physicians they seek to engage with.

Why Marketing?

Because marketing can help you identify and target specific audiences. And your marketing team understands stakeholder sentiment and the craft of storytelling.

Given the shifting needs and motivations of today’s nursing workforce and how job seekers today engage with opportunities, there is little doubt that marketing is the right choice for tackling this ever-pressing problem.

Partnering with marketing can be a true game-changer for your hospital system.

In order to deliver as a marketer, you must not ignore these two important points:

  1. Leverage the best data you can get your hands on.
  2. Tell stories that are grounded in an intimate understanding of the audience.

Every hospital is putting more and more emphasis on (pick your online recruiting platform). But regardless of what job posting board hospitals are using, putting more postings up isn’t going to get you more qualified nurses. The space is crowded, and there is very little opportunity to truly differentiate. So, having great data and telling compelling stories that are grounded in empathy and human understanding is your best strategy—guaranteed.

Why data?

A marketing-centered approach is clearly smart, and a data-centered approach is even smarter. Leveraging data and the expertise of your marketing team will help your efforts to recruit nurses to be more effective.

By identifying and understanding targeted nursing audiences, your recruiting team can create and deliver highly suitable messages and engage in hyper-targeted and relevant outreach campaigns. For example, you might want to target nursing students or recent graduates—these two segments have distinctly different outlooks on their careers, and they will express needs and motivations that are very different from a nurse who has been caring for patients for, say, ten or more years.

In order to effectively target the right audiences and attract the right candidates, your strategy needs to leverage a more targeted, data-driven approach to marketing and outreach. A data-first approach can help you define an audience and also inform the success of your efforts. Leveraging great data, utilizing technology, and investing in digital tactics will ensure that you deliver on three important components of a successful nurse recruiting effort:

  1. Deliver personalized and relevant information to potential candidates
  2. Track campaign performance
  3. Respond quickly to inquiries and applications.

Great data sets the stage for success.

Why Storytelling?

Great stories move the needle.

Remember: Data is great, but not the end-all-be-all. Many hospitals believe that data and numbers are far superior drivers of strategy than stories—and this is simply not true. Numbers, in order to be actionable, need stories—and stories should be grounded in stakeholder understanding. The conversation in hospital marketing has evolved in recent years to focus on the notion of human understanding and the importance of connecting with, learning from, and empowering the stakeholder at ground level.

Stories, when done well, will connect with and move the reader—the human on the other end. Nurses, patients, caregivers, HCPs, family … we are all human, and we all have needs and motivations that are unique to our worldview. Stories that champion the audience’s worldview will be far more impactful. Especially when grounded in empathy and understanding that seeks to connect with, engage with, educate, and empower better outcomes and experiences.

Focusing on specific audiences can be an effective way to recruit nurses in a targeted marketing campaign. Creating messaging and telling stories that acknowledge the uniqueness of the individual will move them in your direction.

The Point?

Find nurses with data. Move them with stories.

LIFT brings data and stories to your recruiting efforts. Our deep and impressive access to nursing data will guarantee accurate and comprehensive targeting that will empower better strategies and outcomes.

LIFT offers marketers and HR professionals seeking to stand out and recruit more nurses an alternative way to identify and engage nurse audiences. We can show you how to get away from the cluttered mess of job boards and traditional recruiting methods and get you in front of the right cohort of nurses with the right message and position your hospital in a relatable and favorable light before anybody else.

Where everybody’s just trying to fish in a smaller and smaller pond for the exact same fish, LIFT can help you align qualitative insights with quantitative data to fuel stores and recruiting initiatives that are as impactful as they are useful over time. Our unique position in the healthcare market and our approach to solving difficult-to-solve problems have proven to be a tremendous resource to our clients.

And if you are ready to learn more about LIFT’s approach to this important and timely topic, please reach out—we would be honored to share more and learn from you.