Healthcare News & Insights

How to win the war for health IT talent

As we’ve reported earlier, many health IT jobs are available and competition for talent is steep. What can organizations do to set themselves apart? 

The website Healthcare IT News recently unveiled its report, “Where to Work: BEST Hospital IT Departments,” an annual ranking of the best employers for health IT pros. The results highlight some of the things employees value when evaluating current or potential employers.

The rankings were based on a 67-question survey filled out by a total of 4,945 IT staff members. As part of the report, those respondents were asked to rank the importance of different factors in determining their job satisfaction.

The results may be surprising: Salary and benefits came in dead last, far outweighed by how happy employees were with their day-to-day roles and responsibilities and the people they are surrounded by. In order of importance, health IT pros said their job satisfaction was determined by:

  1. Their daily work
  2. The other people in their IT department or team
  3. The overall workplace culture
  4. The organization’s senior management and leadership
  5. Training and professional development opportunities
  6. Their direct supervisor or manager, and
  7. Compensation, benefits and employee recognition.

Best employers for health IT pros

The best places to work in health IT, according to Healthcare IT News:

  • Among the largest hospitals: Intermoutain Medical Center in Murray, UT
  • Among mid-sized hospitals: Thibodaux Regional Medical Center in Thibodaux, LA, and
  • Among smaller hospitals: Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, NC.
For the top-ranking organizations, some common characteristics were commitments to flexibility and innovation, and a strong link between the IT department and the hospital’s overall mission.

What all organizations can do

What can other healthcare organizations do to become a top employer for IT pros and attract and hang on to top tech talent? Here are some key steps to take:

1. Involve the entire organization

In today’s environment, IT employees are critical to a healthcare organization’s success — and as the ranking of job satisfaction factors shows, the overall organization and its leadership are critical to attracting and retaining IT employees. Giving job candidates plenty of information about the organization’s mission and culture could help attract employees, and making sure current staff have regular contact and communication with leadership may boost retention.

2. Connect IT with patient care

Health IT pros are tech experts, but many of them have chosen to work in the industry because they’re interesting in helping improve patient care. Many of the top-ranked employers in the Healthcare IT News’ report showed a dedication to using technology for better care. Job applications as well as current employees should be shown the effects their efforts have on care and outcomes.

3. Offer new skills training

IT is a fast moving field, especially in healthcare where new systems are being developed quickly to meet growing demands. Tech pros in general are worried about keeping their IT skills up to date, so offering help with training is a valuable benefit. Healthcare IT managers can also make sure the staffs’ duties rotate occasionally, so people can learn a new area — that also keeps day-to-day work from being boring.

4. Help with career advancement

Of course, the best employees want to advance their careers — and managers should want them to do it within their organizations. And in fact, one recent study found that employees who were promoted from within were less expensive and more productive than outside hires. Showing IT pros a path for advancement can be a good motivator, as well as a recruiting and retention tool.

5. Don’t ignore salaries

Along with Healthcare IT News’ report, many other surveys show that employees don’t care quite as much about salary as managers might think — but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any impact. Especially in a field like health IT in which competition for talent is high, organizations must make sure they regularly look over their compensation to make sure it’s in line with the market.

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