In nursing, throughout healthcare, and in many other industries, we will all face new challenges in the months and years ahead because of COVID-19.

And when the pandemic ends (hopefully sooner, rather than later), our nation will go through a post-pandemic recovery period.

As a healthcare recruiter, you saw major changes in the workplace and how your employees worked during the pandemic. You saw job positions modified and eliminated and new ones created. As the months passed, you needed to make lifestyle changes and adjustments at home as well. In the middle of it all, many of you probably began looking at your recruitment and retention plans and adapted them to the changes happening all around you.

Post-Pandemic Changes Will Keep Coming

Adjustments in response to COVID-19 aren’t over. The so-called “new normal” will keep changing and continue to affect human resource professionals. You will need to work on how to advertise job openings going forward, along with how to interview, hire, and orient new staff and provide them with the safest and most up-to-date work environment.

In many ways, staff’s expectations about work-life balance, health, safety, and working conditions will be greater.

During the pandemic, new and different roles were created in patient care, management, infection control, quality, environmental safety, and other areas. New position descriptions, different skill sets, and updated education and training models were needed.

In the post-pandemic job market, applicants will ask questions about your organization’s worker safety initiatives. More than ever before, topics such as the availability of PPE and practice models promoting working together safely will be at the forefront of their minds.

The Learning Curve Ahead

Knowing there will be more change ahead, it’s time for you and your organization to focus on readiness. Are the right questions being asked and the right changes being made? Your teams must prepare for a pandemic recovery phase; if you’re unprepared for what’s ahead, the learning curve will be especially steep.

Perhaps your organization has assembled an “after COVID-19” task force to work on changes in hiring and enhance retention programs. If not, now’s a good time to create a task force. Recruitment will be important, but retention is crucial.

Your team can consider what you learned during the pandemic and what must change in acute care, home care, ambulatory care, long-term care, and even in the personal lives of everyone working in those settings.

For instance, in an article in Forbes at the height of the pandemic, one writer suggested where elderly parents and family members would live in the future. “We’ve heartbreakingly seen a large amount of deaths at nursing homes due to COVID-19. Many Americans, watching this horror, will elect to have their elderly parents and relatives move in with them to keep their loved ones safe. This will be a reversion to America’s past when multi-generations all lived together under one roof,” the article stated.

Hang On to What You’ve Got

Retention has always been an important part of your work as a recruiter, and in the post-pandemic period you’ll need to have strategies that are top notch to hold on to your organization’s nurses.

“Expert nurses are needed for their advocacy, mentoring, and clinical skills,” said Kathy Mertens, DNP, MPH, RN, immediate past president of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN). “We know the cost of turnover is high. Retaining top talent avoids the costs of recruitment, onboarding, and productivity losses.”

Mertens offers five nurse retention strategies, including:

  • Emphasize nurse safety
  • Address PTSD and burnout
  • Encourage training and certification
  • Focus on nurses early in their careers
  • Enhance pathways to leadership

Money Matters

Given all this change, costs and money most surely matter. As part of your post-pandemic recruitment strategies, you’ll need to fill the positions of those who left their facilities to work per-diem for you, then returned to their organizations, along with nurses who left your organization for other positions, resigned because of family responsibilities or retired prematurely.

Higher pay rates your nurses saw staffing agency and travel nurses receive during the pandemic might lead to increased vacancies.

The costs of filling those vacancies could escalate post-pandemic as nurses look for better salaries.

With all the possibilities for change, it’s a good idea to look for strategies that can help you formulate a post-pandemic plan. Here are five post-pandemic strategies from RecruitingDaily.com:

  • Assess skills gaps and talent shortages
  • Align recruiting strategies with business strategies
  • Engage and nurture furloughed employees and alumni
  • Leverage internal mobility to build an agile workforce
  • Lean on technology to supercharge remote recruiting

Are You Ready?

When the pandemic is over, you will need to be ready to move forward quickly. But before you move forward, review your goals, assets, and any deficits caused by the pandemic — and then get your plans together.