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August 2023

Executive Search Firms for Healthcare: A Strategic Partnership

Beth Ann Namey

Introduction

Healthcare organizations today face a myriad of challenges that impact their ability to thrive in a rapidly evolving industry. Along with the pressing issues of talent acquisition, employee burnout, and the need for continuous upskilling, they are under immense pressure to find visionary leaders who can steer them towards a successful future. According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), these challenges have reached a critical level. Particularly in the area of executive hiring, healthcare organizations must be open to new approaches and innovative solutions to attract the right talent. With an ongoing shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. and a fierce competition for top executive candidates, healthcare organizations must build strategic partnerships to address this need.

This article delves into these trends. Then through two recent case studies, it explores the pivotal role that specialist executive search firms can play in helping healthcare technology organizations—an integral sector of this industry, affected by similar trends–find and secure top leadership talent in order to successfully navigate today’s challenges. They demonstrate how by leveraging extensive networks, industry expertise, and streamlined recruitment processes, a specialty executive search firm can be a valuable and strong ally and help shape the future of healthcare leadership.

First, here is a quick, closer look at these top talent trends in healthcare in 2023.

Talent Acquisition

One of the primary challenges healthcare organizations face currently is the need to quickly identify and secure talent. With a constant influx of patients and critical responsibilities, there is little room for delays in recruitment. The competition for talent in the healthcare industry is an additional hurdle. Not only do healthcare organizations compete against each other for top talent, but they also face competition from other industries with overlapping skill requirements, such as technology and pharmaceuticals.

Employee Mental Health Struggles

Healthcare organizations continue to face unprecedented pressure as a result of challenges brought on by earlier cost-cutting measures that were then exacerbated by the pandemic, including strain on executives, managers, and medical professionals, leading to burnout and fatigue. The tireless work of healthcare professionals has led to ongoing mental and emotional exhaustion. According to Bain and Company, after bearing the brunt of a brutal environment, a third of US clinicians are considering changing employers, while a third are considering switching careers altogether. Low pay in certain healthcare sectors and real dangers to clinicians as they conduct their jobs are also aggravating factors.

Diversity Needs

The pandemic also highlighted the need for stronger diversity and inclusion initiatives at management levels, as healthcare organizations have recognized the value of diverse perspectives and experiences in navigating complex situations effectively. According to leading healthcare publication NEJM Catalyst, “A simpler and more visible measure of diversity can be found in the photos of the leaders of health care organizations on their websites, and it is hard not to notice that they are mostly white and predominantly male.”

Embracing New Technology

Embracing new technology and automation has also become imperative in streamlining processes, enhancing efficiency, and improving patient care. As the healthcare industry rapidly evolves, healthcare organizations must stay ahead by understanding and adopting innovative technologies to keep pace with the changing landscape.

Employee-first Approach

As is true in all industries, there is an urgent need for healthcare leaders to adopt a people-first approach, prioritizing the well-being and morale of the workforce, offering support, and promoting work-life balance. This approach not only mitigates burnout but also fosters a positive and resilient organizational culture.

Strong Employer Brand

Additionally, to drive recruitment healthcare organizations are increasingly aware of the importance of building a strong employer brand to attract and retain top talent. An appealing employer brand showcases the organization’s commitment to employee welfare, career growth opportunities, and a supportive work environment, thereby ensuring a steady influx of skilled professionals who are passionate about making a difference in healthcare.

Partnering with Executive Search Firms

As healthcare organizations prepare to navigate these challenges, they can significantly benefit from working with expert executive search firms to meet their urgent hiring needs. Executive search firms specialize in identifying, attracting, and securing top-tier executive talent quickly and effectively. They are valuable partners for several reasons:

  • Candidate Networks — First, executive search firms maintain extensive networks and databases of highly qualified candidates. With their connections and expert industry knowledge, they can tap into a large pool of potential candidates that may not be accessible through conventional recruitment methods. This widens the talent search and increases the chances of finding the ideal candidate who possesses the necessary skills, experience, and cultural fit for the organization.
  • Industry Knowledge — Second, those firms specializing in healthcare and healthcare technology possess a thorough understanding of these industries. These firms are well-versed in the unique challenges and opportunities faced by organizations in this sector, allowing them to accurately assess candidates’ qualifications and match them with the specific needs and goals of the organization, which encourages a successful and productive hiring process.
  • Structured Recruiting Process — Third, executive search firms are skilled at managing the recruitment process. They take care of time-consuming tasks such as screening resumes, conducting interviews, and checking references, freeing up internal HR teams and executives to focus on their core responsibilities. This streamlined process accelerates the hiring timeline, which is crucial for healthcare organizations facing urgent workforce needs, especially during times of increased demand, like the aftermath of a pandemic.
  • Privacy – Finally, executive search firms offer a level of confidentiality and professionalism that can be crucial in sensitive hiring situations. For instance, when an organization needs to replace an outgoing executive or fill a highly competitive leadership position, maintaining confidentiality is essential to prevent any disruption or uncertainty.

Partnering with expert executive search firms can provide healthcare and health technology organizations with a strategic advantage. Their access to a wide talent pool, expertise within a specific area of the business such as HR, in addition to industry expertise and an efficient recruitment process ensures that organizations can successfully secure top executive talent to drive innovation, navigate challenges, and achieve their long-term goals.

Case Studies: Leveraging Frederickson as Your Strategic Executive Search Healthcare Partner

The following real-world case studies explore how our team as specialists within HR successfully addressed the talent acquisition challenges of two healthcare technology organizations, helping them secure top-tier executives to lead them into the future.

Working with these companies, it was critical to our success that we be able to draw upon a pool of candidates (including our own extensive network as well as new sources), and our long-term experience with placing HR roles and understanding DEI requirements.

Case Study 1

A healthcare technology firm sought the specific HR expertise of Frederickson to revamp its HR leadership during a period of rapid growth. Struggling to find a seasoned people leader who aligned with their data-driven culture and could facilitate ongoing evolution, the organization required a Vice President (VP) of Human Resources (HR) to build and scale crucial systems and processes. Additionally, they needed to consolidate their HR Business Partner function and unify their HR teams.

Case Study Insights Section GraphicFrederickson rose to the challenge and successfully placed a highly experienced HR leader in the VP of HR role. Pleased with the outcome, the client entrusted the firm with an additional critical search for a VP over Total Rewards and other operations, and a crucial third role in the new leader’s team. Our collaboration with the client enabled us to understand their needs and deliver top-notch candidates swiftly.

Read the Healthcare Technology Case Study

Case Study 2

A pioneering health technology organization sought Frederickson Partners’ assistance to find a Talent Acquisition (TA) leader, again during a period of high-growth. The client desired an executive who would prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, and act as a mentor to the HR team.

Case Study Insights Section GraphicTo overcome previous reactive hiring practices, the client needed a strategic model for TA that included proactive workforce planning, future-state pipelining, and implementing TA systems, including an HRIS. Additionally, they were in search of other leaders in People Operations and Total Rewards to bolster their HR organization and build a strong culture. Frederickson’s conducted best search practices, including frequent check-ins, up-to-date reports, and ongoing open communication, to establish a robust partnership with the client, and place a TA leader with extensive experience in high-growth organizations and DEI. The successful outcome led to a continued collaboration with Frederickson for multiple additional searches.

Read the Full Healthcare/Healthcare Tech Case Study

Conclusion

Partnering with specialty executive search firms can be a game-changer for healthcare organizations striving to meet their requirements for recruiting top leadership talent. These firms bring expertise, networks, and industry knowledge to the table, helping organizations to identify and secure the best candidates who can lead them into the future successfully.

In a rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, having visionary and skilled leaders is paramount for driving innovation, adapting to challenges, and delivering high-quality care to patients. The strategic collaboration with an executive search firm can empower healthcare organizations to overcome recruitment hurdles, such as talent shortages and the need for diverse, forward-thinking executives, to put the right leadership team in place.

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Beth Ann Namey , Partner at Frederickson Partners, a Gallagher company, has managed hundreds of leadership searches with U.S. and global companies across industries. In 2020 she led Frederickson’s expansion into the Southeastern U.S. and Latin America and runs the company’s Southeast regional hub out of_Nashville, Tennessee. (See Beth Ann's LinkedIn)

Read Beth Ann Namey’s Full Biography.

Frederickson Partners, a Gallagher company is a market leader in retained executive search since 1995. As one of the top-rated HR executive search and C-suite recruiting firms, we have expertise in placing Chief People Officers, Chief Human Resources Officers, Chief Diversity Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Legal Officers and many other senior leaders. We draw on a broad network of rising and established executives and leaders, and a 28-year reputation as a talent acquisition and HR Advisory provider.

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