Stephen McLarnon, founder and CEO, HealthSectorTalent®Stephen McLarnon, founder and CEO
A full complement of healthcare workers is paramount to maintaining a safe standard of care and reducing burnout that can result in increased staff turnover and absenteeism. The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the need as it brought never-before-seen workforce shortages at a time when maintaining the care continuum was a top priority for healthcare systems worldwide.

According to a pre-covid study by the World Health Organization, workforce shortages were projected to reach 15 million in 2022 and decrease to 10 million by 2030. However, unforeseen events like the pandemic have the potential to drastically shift these numbers.

Combine this with the limited recruitment process outsourcing partners (RPO) capable of handling the highly complex and regulated nature of care provider roles, and global healthcare systems find themselves fighting an uphill battle.

A proven specialist in healthcare RPO, HealthSectorTalent (HST) addresses these issues with its comprehensive experience and ability to deliver impactful talent attraction strategies and impeccable RPO services. It is a multi-awardwinning healthcare resourcing solutions company on a mission to transform how healthcare employers and governments manage the attraction and recruitment of clinicians.

The Big Three of Healthcare Recruitment Hurdles

“Healthcare is the only industry in the world with quantifiable workforce shortages because it is measured using median densities of healthcare workers as a percentage of a country’s population,” says Stephen McLarnon, Founder and CEO of HST.

Recognising this, HST tackles three main challenges that obstruct timely and efficient healthcare recruitment. Internally dubbed the “3 Ss,” they include challenges driven by shortages, scale, and systems.

The first “S” encompasses issues caused by skyrocketing vacancies across healthcare organisations of varying sizes worldwide. McLarnon notes that the National Health Service (NHS) currently estimates 47,000 nursing vacancies and that while he acknowledges that HST cannot magically make more nurses appear, their innovative talent attraction and process outsourcing solutions give their clients a competitive advantage in an incredibly tight labour market.

In addressing the problem of scale in healthcare recruitment, it is crucial to understand the reasons behind th e worker shortage. Various leading market surveys perfectly illustrate this, noting that the number of vacancies in some healthcare provider organisations is equivalent to the total full-time equivalents of entire companies in other sectors.

McLarnon elaborates on this by drawing parallels between Twitter, which currently employs 500 people at their European head office in Dublin, and a client that approached HST for assistance in filling over 600 nursing vacancies.

The third and most disruptive ‘S’ is systems, whereby many healthcare employers rely on antiquated recruitment technology that causes significant delays by forcing teams to navigate many disparate platforms for day-to-day operations. Even in cases where a healthcare employer deploys large ERP systems and customises the implementation to better manage recruitment processes, the final user experience is often clunky and frustrating. McLarnon highlights how some Irish public hospitals still use Excel spreadsheets to manage recruitment.

Flexible, Agile and Effective Attraction and Processing Support

HST provides two primary solutions; talent attraction and recruitment process outsourcing underpinned by its proprietary technology.

Our market contemporaries don’t know we exist, and we prefer that because while they focus on building their own brand and reputation, we focus on building our client’s brand and capabilities

Its RPO offerings are further divided into three services, project RPO, hybrid RPO, and modular recruitment process administration (RPA). Project RPO enables clients to develop campaigns with clearly defined targets across occupation groups, markets, volume, and timeframe. HST’s hybrid RPO involves the generation of recruitment projects in a highly collaborative manner, where it allows clients to manage specific responsibilities and outsource others, creating a unified final product that ensures the delivery of the best outcomes. Through its modular RPA, HST enables healthcare firms to pick ‘n’ mix key services, including applicant management, selection support, employment checks, and onboarding based on their needs.

HST prides itself on being one of the world’s best healthcare recruitment advertising agencies. This is attributed to its in-house team of award-winning digital marketing and advertising experts that works closely with every client to enhance their employer brand and implement advertising strategies that extend their reach in the market to capture highly skilled candidates directly.

Backing these capabilities is HST’s proprietary technology, which transforms talent acquisition by digitising and streamlining its clients’ talent attraction capabilities with next-gen applicant management and selection modules. Its technology-backed solutions provide soughtafter capabilities, including AI to analyse large volumes of job applications and predictive modelling that help prioritise and match jobs with the most qualified candidates.

A Philosophy of Self-Sufficiency

“Our market contemporaries don’t know we exist, and we prefer that because while they focus on building their own brand and reputation, we focus on building our client’s brand and capabilities. If you were to ask the 34,000 candidates, including 11,000 nurses, that we helped source in 2022, if they had ever heard of HST, most would say no,” states McLarnon.

HST follows a core philosophy of partnering and supporting clients rather than just supplying them with the candidates needed to mitigate problems. This aligns with its mission of making healthcare employers selfsufficient when hiring competent professionals. When engaging with a client, HST undertakes an initial assessment to identify challenges and blockages before presenting a range of solutions that enables healthcare employers to choose the approach that works for them.

According to McLarnon, most healthcare employers, especially in the NHS, devolve responsibility for their nurse recruitment to third-party agencies. This, in turn, eliminates the ability for employers to build their own expertise, leaving them bereft of in-house capabilities. HST’s core philosophy directly addresses this problem by helping them build and manage their talent pools, including internal nursing staff banks that minimise or eliminate reliance on temporary agency staff, which most healthcare employers consider impossible.
  • Healthcare is the only industry in the world with quantifiable workforce shortages because it is measured using median densities of healthcare workers as a percentage of a country’s population

Through these unrivalled competencies, HST has ignited numerous success stories across the global healthcare sector. One of them is the hybrid RPO campaign it undertook for Northern Ireland’s public health system, the HSC Workforce Appeal. An initiative of the Department of Health in Northern Ireland on behalf of 5 HSC Trusts as well as the ambulance service and Public Health Agency, HST was tasked with building an emergency health workforce in response to COVID-19. The complex multi-stakeholder recruitment campaign was in effect from March 2020 to October 2022, highlighting the positive impact of HST’s portfolio. This collaborative project is the biggest recruitment campaign in the history of the NHS in Northern Ireland, comprising 40,000 applications, more than 7,000 applicant appointments, and over 8,700 fixed-term temporary contracts delivered. It also supported the attraction and selection for Northern Ireland’s COVID-19 mass vaccination programme.

Combining Customer-Centricity with Cutting-Edge Technology

At the heart of HST’s massive success is its ability to combine its proprietary technology and the industry knowledge of its passionate team with its unique customer-centric approach. Talking about his colleagues, McLarnon emphasises the significance of HST’s talent delivery team, including its extensive panel of nurse assessors, in ensuring efficient selection, pre-employment checks and timely onboarding of professionals for clients. This perfectly exemplifies the emphasis it places on hiring the right professionals to join its team. Unlike most recruitment agencies that are more focused on placement fees and hire recruiters for their sales ability, HST employs professionals who love recruitment.

These abilities, combined with HST’s proprietary technology and customer-centric approach, deliver sought-after recruitment capabilities to clients of all sizes across all geographies. In conclusion, a people-powered sector like healthcare needs a specialist to attract and recruit skilled workers, and HST remains the go-to partner delivering the technology, people, and approach to establish reliable and timely recruitment processes.