Evolving role of Talent Acquisition in Healthcare: Challenges & Opportunities

By Ms. Shikha Singh, Head Talent Acquisition, Paras Healthcare

The healthcare sector has grown to become one of India’s largest revenue earners as well as employment providers in recent years. As penetration of private healthcare grows, the Indian healthcare market is expected to reach USD 372 billion by 2022. The hospital industry, which is the most significant component of the healthcare sector is forecast to increase to USD 132.84 billion by 2022 clogging a CAGR of 16-17 per cent, according to projections by the Indian Brand Equity Foundation. NITI Ayog member (health) Dr. V K Paul estimates that India will have 2,500 new hospitals in the next 5 years thereby creating 2.5 million additional jobs.

Apart from rising demand for quality healthcare, emergence of for-profit corporate hospitals has been another noticeable trend that has brought about a significant change in healthcare delivery. The turn from the traditional to corporate structure has also heralded a shift in management and administration of hospitals, turning them into more professional entities. 

With increasing spread of services, the demand for qualified workforce in healthcare – of doctors, nurses, paramedics, laboratory technicians -- is rising. Emergence of multiple branches in medicine has also heralded an age of core specialties and sub specialties which makes the process of talent acquisition more challenging.

Emergence of Talent Acquisition as a Separate Vertical

In a post-liberalization India, private multi-specialty hospitals started mushrooming across the urban landscape. An open economy also brought greater exposure to the functioning of MNCs and international organizations, and the way human resource is hired and managed in these entities.  As hospitals in India witnessed a shift from the traditional to corporate, this also heralded an age of professional human resource. The complexity of hiring people that meet the strict core demands of hospitals have presented unique challenges. This has led to the emergence of talent acquisition as an independent vertical within human resource to streamline the process of spotting and attracting talent in healthcare institutions.

Access to limited talent pool

When it comes to hiring for healthcare, the responsibility has an added moral quotient attached to it. You know that the people you are recruiting will be the ones having the lives of patients in their hands. Understandably, healthcare jobs require very strict adherence to qualification and quality of candidates --- not just the doctors but also allied healthcare staff such as paramedics, physiotherapists, OT technicians and nurses. Most hospitals lay down very stringent requirements for qualification and experience for hiring. More so, there is no scope for cross movement of workers between healthcare organizations and other fields and experience is required from the healthcare sphere only.

Hiring for core specialties also implies that employees are hired strictly on the basis of qualification and specialization and there is little scope to play around with a job profile. For example, in an organization outside healthcare, you can consider shifting people from one department to another with a reshuffle in their profiles to address paucity of workforce. However, in a healthcare organization this is never a possibility while recruiting for multiple core specialties.

This hiring for a niche area leaves one with a limited and domain specific pool of talent to hire from. A physiotherapist who qualifies every other requirement but has worked only on adults may not fit your specific need for a child physiotherapist. A nurse who has ample experience of working in general wards may not be suitable for hiring for a cancer ward. This also intensifies the need for instituting sound retention policies to sustain recruitment objectives particularly in a highly competitive space where opportunities abound.

Sourcing the right talent

When you have access to a limited pool of resources, your talent acquisition process needs to innovate and reinvent itself to identify and attract the right people. There are always two sets of talents in the market – one of active job lookers, the other of talented workers who are not actively looking for jobs but will not mind exploring a good proposal. Your talent acquisition team must find ways to laterally engage with the second set of people as well.

Having an active social media recruitment strategy and approaching people through lateral processes must be a constant effort for the TA team of hospitals.  Similarly, adopting practices such as seeking references from candidates that appear for interviews, keeping a backup of people who have already appeared for previous positions and going back to them when needed, promoting non-clinical jobs internally, capitalizing on walk-in’s, etc are some techniques to widen your available talent pool.


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