The first stage in the allied health employee lifecycle is attraction—how are you going to attract future recruits, ensure they are the right kind of person for your organisation, and stand out from your (many) competitors in a busy employment market?
From our work with multiple professions and employers, and the published literature, we know that salary is not the primary motivating factor for prospective allied health employees. In fact, it seems that health practitioners are largely motivated by wanting to make a difference, to have an interesting work environment, and to have the opportunity to grow professionally.
Understanding these drivers as an employer can help you attract, recruit and retain staff in your organisation.
Create your Employer Value Proposition (EVP)
Articulating your difference generally starts with creating your value proposition as an employer.
What is it that you do, for whom, and how do you make a difference? This might be framed as your organisational values or sometimes your mission statement.
Some examples of publicly available employer value propositions are illustrated below.
The organisations above have articulated a set of values that clearly states who they are, what they do for their clients, and also gives an idea of the organisational culture.
Creating the value proposition for your organisation is important for a number of reasons—it helps shape the scope of the work you do, the clients or communities you work with, and it also sets the tone for the level of innovation you expect to deliver in your organisation.
There are some great tools to help you develop the value proposition for your business. A popular approach is the Business Model Canvas approach, which includes a section on how to develop your value proposition, which explores the problems and ‘pains’ you solve for your customers, how you add value to your customers (gains), and helps you to clarify the products or services you provide your customers to solve their ‘problems or pains’. In this case your customers are both your clients or service users and prospective employees.
More information about how to develop your Business Model Canvas and complete the Value Proposition Canvas can be found here.
How you advertise
You have a nanosecond to attract a prospective employee to tap on your job advertisement.
More than half of all employers will advertise online either through employment websites, like Seek.com.au, jobs.nhs.uk, and Indeed.com; professional associations and profession based newsletters or government or sector based job boards. Regardless of where you advertise, you will normally have no more than three lines of text in which your advertisement can stand out from potentially thousands of others. Use your advertising space well.
The international examples of various job advertisements below show the variety of ways that organisations advertise. While there is no right or wrong, it is worth noting the variations in detail, and the features that each advertiser chooses to focus on, including salary, qualifications, as well as organisational culture and values.
The four advertisements from seek.com.au below illustrate that while you only have 3 lines to capture the attention of your audience, the different ways of framing your advertisement can have a huge impact on the likely appeal of the position.
Other, proactive recruitment approaches include providing work placement opportunities for students, presenting at career expos, and word of mouth.
Be an employer of choice
One way to differentiate yourself from your competitors is to focus on being an ’employer of choice’.
According to The Australian Business Awards, the key attributes of employers of choice are organisations that are well-managed, high-performing, industry leading, and provide a stimulating and supportive workplace. While actually applying for an employer of choice award may be out of reach of many smaller providers, understanding and applying the attributes that separate employers of choice from the rest of the market may still help positively differentiate your organisation and improve the experience of your service users and employees.
Factors that can help to differentiate your organisation might include a focus on inclusion and diversity, support for learning and development, philanthropic opportunities for staff or the organisation, as well as other non-work related benefits, such as access to gyms or other health related services.
Magnet model for allied health?
The Magnet Recognition Program is a recruitment and retention strategy for nurses, developed in 1990s to help support high quality nursing recruitment and retention.
The original program identified 14 characteristics that create an environment that is conducive to attracting and retaining qualified nurses who promote quality care and is now widely adopted internationally. Organisations that are awarded Magnet Recognition have achieved a rigorous set of criteria that indicates the strength and quality of nursing. For an organisation to achieve Magnet status, it requires a supportive organisational culture and mindset.
The 14 characteristics have since been simplified into five components, summarised in the model below.
While this model is nursing and largely hospital specific, nothing similar exists for allied health professions. The plurality of the allied health workforce, in terms of professions and employment models may make a similar approach difficult, however the shared focus on high quality care and outcomes should create opportunities for some standards for allied health employment, practice and leadership. Food for thought…
If you hadn’t already focused on how to be an excellent employer, there is nothing like a period of acute workforce shortages to create a burning platform to drive change. Most of the strategies above can be achieved with few existing resources, but might make the difference that enables you to attract an employee who is the right fit for your organisation.