Call it what you will: the Great Resignation, the Great Attrition, or any of the many names given to the COVID-era hiring woes so many healthcare organizations are facing. Competition for talent is intense, workers are re-evaluating their priorities following years of pressure and burnout, and the result is an uncomfortably large number of job openings that organizations struggle to fill.

McKinsey just published some interesting research on this very issue, surveying workers about what motivates them, what makes them want to stay in a job, and what makes them want to leave. The study then groups workers into unique worker “pools,” based on demographic and motivation similarities, suggesting that companies may want to craft their recruiting messaging around these groups, rather than more traditional targeting methods.

Across the board, employees feel like they have more options than ever before – and they’re right. Since 2021, the share of workers planning to leave their jobs remains steady at 40%, and they’re leaving for a number of reasons, including better pay, better benefits, and better culture and fit. Even more significantly, many of these job changers are leaving not just their jobs, but entire industries: McKinsey’s research showed that only 35% of those who quit their jobs in the last two years took new jobs in the same industry.

By grouping workers based on certain professional priorities and motivating factors, employers can better target prospective employees and understand how to engage with them. McKinsey suggests five overarching profiles or pools of talent – here’s what to know about each:


The Traditionalists

As their category title suggests, these employees are the ones with the most “traditional” view of work. They tend to be more risk-averse and are more willing to make trade-offs in work-life balance in exchange for more traditional perks, like compensation, job title and status, and the possibility of career advancement. Those benefits are also what is likely to attract them to a new job, and they’re the easiest to find through more traditional recruitment – but there’s not enough of them to fill all those job openings, especially in a field like healthcare.


The DIY’ers

 In McKinsey’s research, this second group represented the largest share of surveyed workers, and they prioritize one factor above all else: flexibility. Whether they’re full-time workers, part-timers, or self-employed, they’re not interested in roles where they’re taken for granted or forced to give up what they’ve built for themselves. Attracting them requires a value proposition that offers both competitive compensation and a sense of autonomy and real purpose in the role. While many healthcare workers are in the field because of a sense of passion and purpose, organizations will have to find ways to put the focus back on patient care and address scheduling and burnout concerns that would cause this group of candidates to turn roles down.


The Caregivers

 This group puts a particular emphasis on overall well-being, particularly because they have some form of caregiving responsibility outside of work. They’re very willing to get back to work, but it has to be worth it, and it has to be a role that will give them the flexibility they need. Schedule and remote-work flexibility are critical to recruiting from this pool, and other caregiving-focused benefits (like family leave or childcare) are a big plus too. Like the DIY’ers, this group is likely to be working in healthcare out of a real sense of passion for caregiving, but their outside commitments mean they’ll need assurances that their personal lives won’t have to take a backseat and that they’ll have the resources to give patients appropriate care.


The Idealists

 As the youngest demographic pool, “idealists” are usually early-career workers who don’t yet have many of the same financial and familial responsibilities as their older peers. Instead, they’re most concerned with meaningful work, career advancement, flexibility, and a supportive, inclusive community. Appealing to this pool of job candidates requires companies to offer enough flexibility to work with their schedules. They’ll also be likely to be interested in individual and community-based development opportunities, and they’ll be on the lookout for evidence that the organization is taking active steps to improve inclusivity and diversity.


The Relaxers

 Unlike the other four groups, this demographic no longer has work as a main priority in life. They might be retired, taking time off after dealing with burnout or personal reasons, or they might only return to a traditional job under specific circumstances. Reaching and recruiting this pool of potential employees can be tricky, but emphasizing competitive compensation (for those who are seeing their savings dwindle faster than expected) and reiterating how meaningful their work would be can help convince them to bring their significant experience and knowledge back into the workforce.


By Tom Zeleny, NHA