Health Care Hit Hard with Recruiting Woes

December 18, 2002 ( - The US health care industry appears to be the hardest hit by problems in attracting and keeping employees, while the tech sector is still overpopulated and is deep into retrenchment.

Those were two conclusions of a recent Watson Wyatt Worldwide study, which found that 81% of health-care organizations participating said they’re suffering woes in attracting skilled workers. That compares to 41% among other industries.

Nearly three-fourths (72%) reported difficulty retaining critical-skill workers, compared with 21% of all other industries

“The health-care industry is facing a severe talent shortage due to the job requirements, the demographic shift in the labor pool and the level of compensation,” Laura Sejen, Watson Wyatt national practice director of Strategic Rewards in a statement.   “Many jobs can also place an especially high physical, intellectual and/or emotional strain on workers.”

According to the survey, health care organizations are resorting to a variety of tactics to keep a handle on costs while doing better at attracting and keeping skilled workers.

The personnel tactics included:

  • Offering above market base pay, 61% health-care companies versus 28% other firms
  • Providing reduced workweek, 56% health-care companies versus 35% other firms
  • Permiting flexible work schedules, 81% health-care companies versus 68% other firms.

Nevertheless, simply jacking up  compensation isn’t enough to pull in enough health-care talent to meet the demand, the study noted.

Tech Sector Firms Cut Costs, Staff

Meanwhile, high-tech companies have been among the hardest hit in terms of the need to reduce costs, the survey found.   Nearly three-fourths (71%) of the high-tech firms in the survey have reduced staff over the past 12 months, compared to 51% among other industries.

Eight out of ten froze or reduced hiring and/or reduced the size of merit increases compared to 62% of other companies.  

According to the survey, tech companies are putting non-critical employees on the street while protecting those with more critical skills.

The study noted that sales, product development, engineering, and finance are the four job categories in which high-tech companies are having the most difficulty attracting and retaining workers.

Some 44 of the 431 companies in the survey were health care organizations, while 49 high-tech companies participated.