The Battle for Talent in Healthcare: 3 Key Lessons for 2023

January 13, 2023

In November 2022, Matt Dumas, Managing Partner of Chasm Partners, led a panel discussion at the HLTH Conference in Las Vegas titled “The Battle for Talent”. The panel featured established experts in the healthcare industry, including Loran Fredric, Partner & Director of Talent & Recruiting at BCG Digital Ventures; Leah Scanlan, Partner, Talent at Oak HC/FT; Debra Somers, SVP, Portfolio Recruitment at Warburg Pincus; Lucia Guillory, Chief People Officer at Virta Health; and Arun Gupta, CEO and Executive Chairman at Big Health.

1. Do more with less.

When asked about her predictions for digital health in 2023, Debra Somers succinctly remarked, “Do more with less.” 

This year will only reinforce the need for operators with proven experience in the space. You may think you need 200 hires now, when in reality 50 exceptional talents would make the greatest impact. Consider what your organization needs, where you have gaps, and how many people are needed to fill the gaps to make a notable difference. However, it’s critical to remember that exceptional, great, and even good talent is hard to find — especially in healthcare. While some level of this has always been the case, our current economy makes talent acquisition that much harder. Many companies have yet to realize that the talent pools they are tapping into are also being accessed by multiple other parties outside of the industry as well. 

“Do more with less.”

Debra Somers, SVP, Portfolio Recruitment at Warburg Pincus

It’s not enough to simply post a job on LinkedIn or your website in hopes that the right candidate finds their way home. Rather, it is imperative that your hiring plan remains proactive with a developed strategy around each search. Asking questions such as “What is our timeline to hire?”, “How many candidates do we need?”, and “How can we be data driven?” will help to establish a launch pad for your hiring strategy in 2023. 

2. Put as much effort into your retention strategy as you do your hiring strategy.

Recruiting and retention go hand in hand — you cannot have one without the other. Yes, you can “win” great talent, but without an intentional retention strategy, you are bound to lose that talent just as quickly as you found it. 

“Your greatest strength is knowing what you have to offer.”

Lucia Guillory, Chief People Officer at Virta Health

Tomorrow’s candidates aren’t merely looking for “flexible work” or “competitive salaries”. They want community. Training. Leadership. Purpose. As an employer, you need an established network of offerings to not only attract, but retain, top talent. Spend time with your people and learn where their hearts are. Conduct pulse and engagement surveys. Invest time in your onboarding process to better align your employees with your company and create a sense of shared identity. Your greatest strength is knowing what you have to offer and how you can use that to recruit talent and engage employees. If you don’t yet know what your differentiators are, ask your team for feedback!

Remote work & employee retention

While the debate around remote vs. in-office work rages on, it is important for remote-first companies to be aware of two major factors of employee retention: connectivity and loyalty. All businesses, but especially those that are remote-first, need to be committed to creating a connection with their employees. 

“Remote-first doesn’t mean you don’t come together.”

Leah Scanlan, Partner, Talent at Oak HC/FT

Whether in the form of weekly Zoom calls, or quarterly in-person meetings, it is critical that employees feel connected to each other and leadership.

3. Healthcare companies should consider outsourced recruiting as an alternative to in-house talent acquisition.

For ventures, a third-party search firm, either used independently or in combination with internal teams, adds tremendous value when you need to scale. Most notably, these vendors de-risk the hiring plan by offering subject matter expertise and “hitting the ground running”. 

In many cases, the level of specialization required to successfully place a candidate may prove to be a stumbling block for in-house recruiting teams. Reason being that during periods of scale, you’re hiring many “first-of” roles — a hire that your talent acquisition team hasn’t handled before — for both executive and non-executive talent. In these instances, your team needs a subject matter expert to aid in recruiting this kind of talent, but they don’t necessarily need someone full-time. An outsourced recruiting partner can do just that — ‘on’ when you need them, and ‘off’ when you don’t. For companies looking to scale, this partnership model provides a tremendous level of value over time, and helps venture firms mitigate costs with the off/on functionality search firms offer. 

Furthermore, these relationships aren’t transactional, they’re long term partnerships. The firm gets to know your business, your hiring needs, your expectations, your clients’ expectations, and executes your needs quickly. If you have an aggressive hiring model — short windows of time to complete the search — long term search firm partnerships are an excellent resource. 

“[Search firms] are an economic alternative to hiring an in-house team that may do things in a more traditional way.”

Matt Dumas, Founder and Managing Partner at Chasm Partners

“What we find is that we have to have them integrated,” said Loran Frederic. “The reason it’s efficient is because they’ve worked with us before; we’ve had many at-bats with them. It is not a prolonged 6-9 month search for a purple unicorn. They know how we work, they know the expectations, and we’re off to the races.”

Executive vs. Non-Executive recruiting

Hiring at the mid-level can oftentimes be just as, if not more, complicated as executive-level searches.  Recruiting for junior or mid-level candidates can take longer than executives because as soon as these candidates become active, they are inundated with offers — in some cases, 10 or more. 

“When you think about scale and growth, your junior to mid-career roles are going to be new to you and new to your company, which is why it may make sense to invest in a recruiting partnership — even if it isn’t executive.”

Loran Fredric, Partner & Director of Talent & Recruiting at BCG Digital Ventures

In the case of BCG Digital Ventures, Loran notes that they utilize internal recruiters, the client’s HR/TA team, and a third-party vendor for both executive and non-executive searches. “We’re not using them all the time, but enough that when we have overflow capacity, primarily for our individual contributor roles, we call them, turn them ‘on’, engage them for an 8-12 week period, take a break, and come back when we need to hire at scale again.”

To dive deeper into the intricacies of non-Executive recruiting through RPO, download our eBook: Recruiting for Hypergrowth.

What should we expect in 2023?

There’s no denying that there is a talent crisis in American healthcare. The solution isn’t more start-ups or more policies, but better leaders who can bring actionable change impacting talent in this industry. Companies need to be willing to work for great talent, and work even harder to keep it, especially in our current economy. 

As Arun Gupta stated, “The bar is even higher for companies…leading companies right now through this moment in our economy and venture cycle is harder. Capital is more precious, margins are smaller. We all want great things out of these hires but there’s only so many people out there who have proven experience doing these things. The bar is higher on us as leaders — do we have world-class coaches? Do we have world-class leadership structures? Are we really operating at the highest level so that top talent would want to come here?...Companies are see-through these days. With virtual work, everybody knows what’s going on and what they’re coming into in a way that it wasn’t before. We all have to be better as leaders at this moment to build those kinds of cultures and workplaces.”

“We have to be better as leaders.”

Arun Gupta, CEO and Executive Chairman at Big Health

At the end of the day, the battle for talent is only going to get tougher as more external players test the waters of digital health’s talent pools. However, this is not the time for intimidation, but innovation.

Chasm Partners is a retained executive search firm and talent development organization focused exclusively on Healthcare Technology, Healthcare Services and Life Sciences. If you’re interested in learning more about Chasm Partners and its service offerings, please contact us or click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

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