Health Care Organization Continue to Struggle to Attract, Retain Workers

March 31, 2005 ( - Health care organizations are continuing to struggle to attract and retain critical-skill workers, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt.

The survey – of 242 US companies across all industries and 55 health care organizations – shows that 74% of health organizations are experiencing problems with recruiting critical-skill workers to a “moderate’ or “great” extent. This is significantly higher than in all other industries, which only see 41% of companies having the same problem. Retaining such workers is also a problem, with 53% of health care organizations claiming they are having trouble doing so, compared to only 26% in other industries.

Registered nurses are the hardest employees to attract and keep on, according to the survey. Eighty-five percent of health care organizations say that recruiting such workers is at least moderately difficult, while 61% say that retaining them is also difficult.

What are companies doing for recruiting strategies? The survey shows that reimbursing education is the most popular strategy, with 76% of respondents doing so, followed by enhancing the company Web site (73%), linking recruiting with outside education programs (69%), offering signing bonuses (64%), and recruiting outside the country (56%).

The Watson Wyatt survey found that base salary and short-term incentives are actually the most effective monetary rewards for attracting and retaining top performers. The top non-monetary rewards were found to be training and development.

Such organizations still aren’t having an easy time of taking advantage of such knowledge, however. “Health care organizations just can’t seem to make much progress in the war for talent,” said Jamie Hale, a senior workforce planning consultant with Watson Wyatt, in the press release. “With recruiting challenges expected to remain difficult, health care providers will need to boost their workforce planning efforts if they are going to attract and retain critically needed talent.”