Froedtert Health is on a hiring blitz to fill hundreds of open positions as it prepares to open 72 new inpatient beds at its main hospital campus and meet high patient volume across its other locations.
The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin network – which includes five hospitals and 40 health centers and clinic locations – has invested $40 million over the past year to accelerate its recruitment efforts and increase the competitiveness of its salaries and benefits, according to Eric Humphrey, senior vice president and chief human resources officer.
“Our volumes around the system are just, frankly, exploding,” Humphrey said. “We are busting at the seams. And we decided we needed to make a bigger investment in the human capital side of things. We are trying to become very well-staffed to continue providing excellent care for our patients.”
In the second half of 2018, Froedtert Health saw a 3 percent increase in hospital inpatient admissions, compared to a year prior. Hospital outpatient activity was up 3.6 percent in that same time.
The network is currently hiring for about 800 open positions. Those openings are, in part, driven by the four-floor expansion on top of its 12-story Center for Advanced Care on its Wauwatosa campus, which will increase its inpatient capacity when it opens in the summer.
Across the system, open positions include registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, rehabilitation therapists, pharmacy positions, radiology technologists and IT professionals.
Since launching an accelerated hiring campaign in October 2018, Froedtert has hired nearly 500 additional inpatient RNs.
“That’s a record for us,” Humphrey said. “People want to work for Froedtert as an employer of choice, and positions are needed because the community is choosing Froedtert Health for their care.”
Froedtert’s hiring needs have prompted the network to take a more proactive approach to recruitment, Humphrey said. Instead of relying heavily on career fairs, in which prospective employees visit a Froedtert facility, recruiters instead are taking those fairs to the neighborhoods where applicants live.
“And ideally, people are leaving with offers in hand before they even leave the event,” Humphrey said.
Froedtert is also using newer hiring technology to reduce barriers, including allowing applicants to record their interviews or Skype in, so they don’t have to take time off of work.
Through social media and geotracking, hiring managers are also able to reach out to prospective employees who haven’t even applied to positions.
“If people aren’t applying, we let them know there are opportunities and how we see them fitting into those opportunities,” Humphrey said.
Concerns about health care workforce shortages are well-documented across the state. In a 2018 Wisconsin Hospital Association survey, health care executives identified workforce shortages as one of the top three biggest threats to continuing to provide high-quality health care. In the survey, health care leaders ranked entry-level employees as both the top recruitment challenge and the top retention challenge.
Because southeastern Wisconsin doesn’t see a large influx of new people entering the region, the health system has to increase awareness of the job opportunities available to those who live here, Humphrey said.
“It’s more than just an RN or a physician that works in the hospital,” he said. “For example, when people think of health care, they don’t think of IT. So we’re reaching out to schools and colleges to show that some of the cutting-edge technology is being practiced in health care.”
On the retention side, for certain positions, Froedtert is offering commitment bonuses, tuition reimbursement options and more flexibility related to hours and working from home.
“Health care traditionally has been a one-size-fits-all employer,” Humphrey said. “We’ve tried to move away from that, to where we are flexible and offer multiple different options for prospective candidates, related to the type of job and the hours they work … We’ve had to change our mindset in health care while also utilizing the latest technology.”