Behavioral healthcare organizations, along with the rest of the healthcare industry, are struggling to find and keep skilled staff members. The combined strain of the national healthcare staff shortage and soaring turnover rates is not only affecting employers, but also the clients they serve.
And it may only get worse in the coming years. By 2025, we’re projected to have a 250,000 worker shortage in the behavioral health field.
To maintain a steady footing in the future of healthcare, you need to become a magnet for the types of healthcare professionals you seek, which may include having to reimagine the way you hire and retain substance use counselors, psychiatrists, social workers, PMHNs and other behavioral health staff workers.
How do you do this? The first step begins with knowing how to make your organization stand out among the sea of other organizations scrambling to fill the same roles.
Begin With the End in Mind
Be clear on what you want. If your goal is to improve client satisfaction rates and outcomes, reverse-engineer what it will take to get there. Better outcomes are the result of better services. Better services are the result of competent leadership, management and front-line staff. To attract competent candidates to help you meet that goal, identify the skills and characteristics you require for the role, including both nonnegotiable skills and those that are teachable.
After you identify what you want, do some research to find out what applicants want. Reach out to current staff members and find out what attracted them to your organization. Add this question to your application process or during interviews to discover ways you can improve your hiring strategy.
Finally, identify what your competitors are offering that you are not. When is the last time you visited your largest competitor’s career page on their website? Take stock of the things they offer and keep that information in mind as you rebuild your strategy. You might be surprised by the areas in which you can make small improvements to gain an advantage over your competitor, whether that is extending your paid time off benefit to include birthdays or offering a more flexible work schedule.
Put On Your Marketing Hat
Because attracting candidates is becoming more difficult, the way organizations advertise and promote their jobs is changing. Many employers require recruiters to have marketing experience, while others invest in dedicated recruitment marketing roles to build and promote an “employer brand.”
It makes sense. In today’s job market, employers no longer advertise that they have XYZ roles available with XYZ requirements. Instead, they promote an experience. They tell the story of their organization, what part the role plays in that story, and leaves the job seeker feeling as though they can become the hero of the story by working at their organization.
“Storytelling” is a popular buzzword in the marketing industry, and that’s because it works. Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner found that messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable than just facts.
While it might be difficult for smaller behavioral health organizations to get budget approval for a dedicated recruitment marketer, there are ways to achieve the same goal without hiring a marketing expert.
Improve Your Job Ads
Knowing how to market your role requires a deep understanding of your organization and your target audience (behavioral health workers). Your goal is to communicate your mission, culture and benefits in a way that attracts the right job seekers and keeps them engaged enough to apply for the job.
To make your job ad more engaging, consider these tips:
- Make a connection between the role and its impact on the individuals being served
- Highlight unique perks or benefits you offer, or consider adding new ones
- Include a role-specific “day in the life of” video or text
- Add quotes from your social workers, case managers, substance counselors or peer support specialists about their favorite part of the job
- Provide no-cost continuing education to your clinical staff
- Describe the work environment and culture
Find Alternative Ways to Promote Your Jobs
If you are only using job boards like Indeed, Monster or Careerbuilder, you’re likely missing out on quality candidates. Try sharing your open positions in other places, like:
- Social media
- Local associations
- Colleges and universities
- Referrals from your existing staff
- Announcements at public events
Taking the time to craft an engaging job ad and promote it on the right job boards can make a noticeable difference in the amount and quality of applicants you attract.
For an in-depth walkthrough—complete with helpful templates and worksheets—on how to attract and retain highly skilled behavioral health staff, download the free guide, below.