U.S. Health Care Providers Having Difficulty Recruiting Experienced IT Workers, Towers Watson Survey Finds
Need to rethink their recruiting and retention strategies, especially for Epic-certified pros
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- U.S. health care providers need to rethink their approach to hiring and retaining the experienced information technology (IT) professionals they need in the new health care environment, according to new research by global professional services company Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW). At a time when many are already struggling to compete with IT consultancies that can afford to pay top dollar for experienced IT professionals, providers are further disadvantaged by their own misconceptions about what IT workers actually want from an employer.
The Towers Watson survey of more than 100 health care providers, including hospitals, found that two-thirds (67%) are having problems attracting experienced IT employees, and 38% reporting retention issues. The attraction problem is even greater for Epic-certified professionals, with nearly three-quarters (73%) of the respondents reporting difficulty hiring these individuals, whose specialized skills are essential to meet new electronic medical record requirements under health care reform.
"Hospitals have an urgent need for experienced, highly skilled IT professionals to ensure they can meet new government requirements and qualify for financial incentives," said Heidi Toppel, a senior rewards consultant in Towers Watson's hospital industry group. "In addition, the ability to share patient care information and records accurately and seamlessly with a range of other providers will be essential to achieving patient satisfaction and quality-of-care outcomes in a more integrated approach to health care delivery."
The survey found that one obstacle in providers' ability to recruit and retain IT employees is some misconceptions about what attracts employees to a health care organization for employment in the first place.
According to an earlier Towers Watson survey, health care workers ranked job security, competitive base pay, health care benefits, convenient work location and career advancement opportunities as the primary reasons for accepting an offer of employment with a health care provider. However, in a complementary survey of health care employers, Towers Watson found that, with the exception of job security, health care employers did not rank any of these same elements when considering drivers of attraction for IT and Epic-certified employees. In fact, they identified challenging work as the most important factor in attracting an IT employee to an organization, followed by the employer's reputation as a great place to work. Perhaps most surprisingly, the employers ranked base salary eighth on the overall list of draws for employees.
"The stark differences between the factors that employers believe attract IT employees and those that employees themselves say attract them are quite surprising. What's clear is that employees are focused on the practical, while employers are focused on the developmental. The good news is that the vast majority of employers are taking steps to close the talent gap, and seek more balance in their employee value proposition and rewards program," said Laurie Bienstock, North American rewards leader at Towers Watson.
According to the survey, more than half (55%) of respondents are taking at least three measures to address their attraction and retention issues with IT professionals. Among the most effective are increasing base pay rates, offering retention bonuses, and providing additional education and training.
"Given the importance of a competitive salary in attracting IT and Epic professionals, health care providers should take whatever steps they can to meet this need. But focusing on money is only part of the solution. Presenting career and growth opportunities remains important as well, and savvy employers will create as comprehensive a program as possible. Our data confirm that IT recruiting in the health care industry is a matter of striking the right balance between the practical needs of workers today and the longer-term goal of helping an industry transform itself for a different future," said Toppel.
About the Survey
The Towers Watson survey, Closing the IT Talent Gap in Health Care, was conducted in February 2013. A total of 102 U.S. health care provider organizations participated. More than half (52%) of the respondents are hospital systems, and two-thirds (67%) have 5,000 or more employees.
About Towers Watson
Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers solutions in the areas of benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000 associates around the world and is located on the web at towerswatson.com.
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