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Texting: The underutilized staff recruitment and retention solution


Here are some ways to engage employees without a huge investment of time or money.

physician doctor texting: © Malik/peopleimages.com - stock.adobe.com

© Malik/peopleimages.com - stock.adobe.com

We're only about two months into 2024, but it's clear that staff recruitment and retention are primed to be two of the biggest challenges facing health care providers this year. These are challenges that have significant effects on organizations. The results of a recent Experian Health survey found that 100% of hospital and health system respondents report staffing shortages affecting patient engagement and revenue cycle management efforts. The survey also revealed that technology is often overlooked as a tool to help with combatting staff shortages and turnover. One type of technology often used ineffectively or not considered for staff recruitment and retention is text messaging, yet the solution is proven to help both areas in several ways and do so without requiring substantial time or organization investment.

Text messaging for staff recruitment

Consider the applications for text messaging to help improve your recruitment efforts.

© Dialog Health

Brandon Daniell
© Dialog Health

Keep staff informed about job openings. Send texts that keep existing staff current about your open positions and encourage them to share these openings with anyone they know who might be a good fit for the roles. A text message can share details on a single opening or provide a link to a webpage that lists all open positions. The message can also inform or remind staff about any referral bonuses. By using two-way (i.e., conversational) text messaging, you can enable staff to text back the contact information of personnel recommendations.

If you post openings to a social media account like LinkedIn, you can text a link to the post and encourage staff to share it with their network. Considering the likelihood that your staff have other health care professionals in their LinkedIn network, engagement with a job opening social post should help get it in front of more qualified people.

Inform past applicants and former team members. Existing staff are not your only source of potential referrals. Text messages about job openings to past applicants and former staff members (who left your organization on good terms) can help drum up referrals. It's also possible that these applicants and past team members may be looking for work. Two-way texting will make it easier for these individuals to follow up with you.

You may also want to consider texting vendor partners that support other health care providers. These partners may know of organizations that have been forced to cut staff or have team members looking for a change in their career.

Promote job fairs. If your organization will be hosting or participating in a job fair, use text messaging to announce the fair and encourage staff to share the details of the event with their network. Texting is also a good way to ask if any staff are interested in helping with the event.

Communicate with prospective employees. Getting professionals to apply for your openings is the first step in recruitment. The next — and arguably more important — step is to get them to follow through with the interview process. Use text messaging to provide interview details, such as the date, time, location, directions, parking, and safety protocols. With two-way texting, you can enable applicants to respond with questions or requests, like needing to reschedule their interview.

Follow up with applicants. After the interview, use text messaging to interact with prospective employees and give them another opportunity to ask questions and request information. Recruitment efforts that effectively engage with and support job applicants can help increase the likelihood that an applicant will think positively about their experience with an organization.

Text messaging for staff retention

Here are some of the ways you can use texting to build staff loyalty and improve retention.

Deliver great onboarding experience. Instill confidence in new staff that they made the correct decision to accept a position with your organization by providing an exceptional onboarding experience. Use texts to support your efforts by sending a welcome message, providing links to onboarding materials, identifying training dates, sharing resources, and informing new personnel of deadlines.

After onboarding is complete, a text survey can help you identify whether a new team member would benefit from additional training and learn about opportunities to improve your onboarding process.

Strengthen culture. Workplace culture can be a big factor in keeping or driving away staff. Text messaging is an effective mechanism for highlighting an organization's commitment to providing a positive, supportive culture and reminding personnel how much their employer values them and their work.

Texting can be used to inform and remind personnel about staff appreciation events, organization milestones (e.g., "named a best place to work," successful accreditation or certification), celebrations (e.g., birthdays, work anniversaries, birth of a child), volunteering opportunities, professional development and continuing education opportunities, and holidays. Two-way texts can be sent that requests feedback and suggestions from staff on any number of culture-related initiatives or issues that may affect culture.

Reminders about benefits. Surveys conducted over the past several years have identified that many employees underutilize their benefits, including paid time-off, flexible spending accounts, retirement plans, and those associated with wellness programs (e.g., exercise, mental health, financial consulting, vaccinations, stress management). Text campaigns are highly effective at driving engagement with and providing information about company-sponsored health and wellness initiatives. Text messages can be periodically sent to staff reminding them about available benefits and sharing links where staff can learn more about their benefits. Encouraging staff to use their available benefits can contribute to staff wellness and satisfaction while also improving staff productivity and culture.

Providing staff support. Working in health care isn't easy. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that harassment of health workers has greatly increased, as have the number of health workers reporting feelings of burn out. CDC also notes that "supportive workplaces can help" with employee mental health. Texting is a terrific way to share positive news with staff that can help lift staff morale, such as those examples highlighted in the above section discussing workplace culture.

We're also seeing human resources departments text uplifting words to their personnel. This can be anything from simple "thank yous" for hard work during a busy day or week, to motivational quotes, to uplifting messages, to words of encouragement. These small gestures serve to remind staff how much they are valued and provide an organization with another way of showing appreciation for their personnel.

Texting as an essential recruitment and retention technology

If organizations hope to achieve greater success with health care staff recruitment and retention, they should leverage every tool and tactic available. This must include text messaging. Texting is simple and does not require significant staff time or resources. It's inexpensive. For organizations that are short staffed, texting — especially two-way texting — is a valuable tool proven to reduce workloads and increase staff satisfaction by decreasing the large number of phone calls health care administrative staff tend to make and receive from patients, among other productivity benefits. Most importantly, text messaging is an effective solution that can easily be integrated into any organization's existing recruitment and retention efforts. Now is the time to start using or further expand how you're using texting to improve how you engage with current and future staff.

Brandon Daniell is co-founder and chief revenue officer of Dialog Health, a provider of a HIPAA-compliant, conversational two-way texting platform to organizations which they can leverage as a communication and engagement channel.

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