Recruiting nurses is one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS right now.
Nursing staff are the backbone of our organisation and recruiting the right number is absolutely vital in the safe running of caring and effective modern hospitals. NHS Trusts across the country are grappling with a national shortage of nurses, a huge demand for more trained staff and the continual need to recruit as people drop out of the workforce or retire.
This, of course, is traditionally the area of HR and recruitment professionals but by working alongside the communications team we’ve been able to have an impact on the process in Gateshead. We wanted to work alongside the team and see if there was anything more we could do to help drive people to our recruitment material and ultimately join us at the hospital.
Getting the messages and positioning right was really important because it can often be difficult and expensive to recruit healthcare staff to the North East. There’s also little to differentiate one employer from another because all the providers in our area perform strongly and largely pay the same rates.
So we focused on promoting the friendly workplace culture and the opportunity to work in a brand new £32m unit as our USP to potential employees. We wanted to thread these key messages into everything from the job advert to the marketing collateral to form a strong picture of what the QE is about in people’s minds.
Aside from support with the writing we really looked to social media when we needed new nurses for the Emergency Care Centre which we had just opened that year. Facebook is our most popular channel and was the ideal hub for starting a discussion about working with us as a nurse.
We were able to use the targeting and promotions within Facebook to only get to the key people we were after (nurses who were already qualified) within a specific area. This really helped us get people to our recruitment events which had previously had much lower attendances. Getting bums on seats at the events enabled our staff to get in early and demonstrate exactly what was on offer.
That tackled the immediate need but we also wanted a slower burn campaign to build recruits for the future among people who may not have qualified yet. We created a video for You Tube and Facebook that let our current staff tell people what the job was like in their own words and set up a number of photo boards on Pinterest so that people could take a virtual look around.
We also set up a new recruitment webpage that focused much more on people and a separate Twitter Feed that just posted current vacancies. A new ‘focus on’ section of the website looked at individual areas much more closely with this one on surgery jobs an example of how we looked at the different needs of each department.
The picture below shows some of the key stats but in the last round we managed to attract 70 applications and ultimately employed 35 new nurses but we know this is going to be a long, ongoing challenge.