By Bettie Borton, AuD
Have you noticed that successfully staffing your practice seems more challenging lately? Hiring audiology providers and other hearing health-care-related staff in today’s employment market is becoming an increasingly competitive process. Identifying and procuring top talent to support your practice may seem secondary to patient care or other day-to-day operational needs, but employee recruitment is a key element to effectively serving patients, constructing a successful practice, and ultimately, leaving a remarkable professional legacy.
Why is today’s employment scenario so challenging?
It’s common knowledge that unemployment rates are at historically low levels, and according to Gallup Research, one of the byproducts of low unemployment is that employees are changing jobs with greater frequency than ever before. At the same time, the potential pool of audiology providers to staff your practice is being narrowed by static AuD graduation rates in the face of increased demand for services as the Boomers continue to age into the marketplace.
This “perfect storm” is resulting in a pronounced shortage of audiologists. In fact, the Department of Labor forecasts a 34 percent increase in job availability for audiologists between 2012 and 2022. Today’s emerging professionals have choices—and lots of them—when it comes to employment opportunities.
Independent audiology practices also may find structuring competitive compensation packages increasingly difficult. “Big Box” and larger, institutional clinical settings may have much deeper pockets for higher salaries as well as more attractive and/or comprehensive benefit packages. Millennials will soon constitute the majority of the workforce. These emerging professionals now carry record student loan debt and managing this debt can foster a strong but sometimes unrealistic focus on compensation levels.
Additionally, generational differences between Millennials and Boomers that surface in the workplace can be pronounced—and sometimes problematic. In short, today’s hiring scenario is quite different than that which many current owners experienced themselves as emerging professionals.
On paper, recruiting a new employee for your practice might appear to be a simple process.
Post the position on a job portal, request resumes, select a few candidates who fit the bill for further review, invite seemingly qualified individuals for an interview, shortlist a few, check references, and finally, present the offer letter to one or more depending on the number of vacancies. Sounds simple enough right?
In reality, the process, people, and outcomes are changing, and challenging. Have you ever had the experience of hiring someone—and then wishing you’d been a bit more selective? It’s not just a numbers game—while anyone who has run a practice understands the need to have adequate manpower, it’s important that the right people are in the right positions. And, once this talent is hired, it’s equally important to retain it.
With employees changing jobs with increasing frequency, professional “loyalty” is no longer something to be taken for granted. Let’s face it—the cost of employee turnover can be staggering. With price tag estimates ranging from 6 to 9 months’ salary to refill a position, that’s a cost of $30,000–$45,000 for replacing an employee earning $60,000 a year! And, economic fallout is only part of the story for employee attrition.
Office morale, scheduling, productivity, and a host of other challenges can be resultant from this turnover. Successfully addressing today’s staffing dilemmas involves more than recruitment—it also encompasses development and implementation of creative engagement and retention strategies. In short, employers must become an “employer of choice” to attract, engage, and retain the valuable talent they desire.
As Simon Sinek has stated, “People don’t buy what you do, people buy why you do it.” This statement certainly rings true for patient relationships but is equally important as it applies to attracting and retaining great team members.
Hiring practices that position you to become an “employer of choice” are particularly important from the perspective that no patient will be remarkably served by a mediocre staff.
To explore effective staffing strategies for your practice, join me at the Academy’s upcoming Practice Management Meeting in Hawaii.
I will engage you in a presentation focusing on
- Why your practice employee pipeline is foundational to the long-term success of your practice
- How you can shape the future of your practice by developing strategies to improve recruiting, engagement, and retention efforts
And remember, just because you aren’t planning to hire an army, grow/expand into new markets, or immediately explore exit strategies does not mean that this topic is irrelevant.
Although you may never have thought of developing employment resources as a long-term construction project, give some consideration to this concept. Your employment and retention efforts are foundational to your practice success, similar to a building project that has to be carefully and continuously developed to ensure long-term success. In other words, you want this pipeline to be well designed and ready when needed, so that when staffing needs present themselves, your team is ready to implement.
About the Presenter
Bettie Borton, AuD, serves as Director of University and Student Outreach at Audigy in Vancouver, Washington.
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