Staffing shortages are putting health systems into overdrive. Could brand and marketing teams help steer their organization in the right direction?
The “Avengers” of halftime shows
- The Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show teaser went viral this week featuring the “avengers” of Superbowl halftime shows – Eminem, Snoop Dog, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and Dr. Dre.
- These performers are among the most popular 90s-era rappers, evoking intense nostalgia among the ad’s millions of viewers.
Life gave us lemons … now what?
- Critical staffing shortages are negatively impacting hospitals’ ability to deliver routine service-line offerings. Across the board, hospitals and health systems are wondering if they need to rethink how they serve their patients – if they can serve them at all.
- Unlike other industries facing staffing shortages or business repercussions stemming from COVID-19, health systems are directly impacted by COVID-19 patient volume. While other industries may need to adjust capacities and protocols to be more “COVID-19 friendly,” health systems must pull resources from more lucrative service lines to increase capacity for money-draining COVID-19 care.
- Navigating the pandemic amidst staffing shortages is perhaps the biggest “lemon” the healthcare industry has faced. Could marketing, branding, and communications teams play a role in solving this challenge?
Thinking out loud
- Revive is helping a health system to think about the future and design a vision for how the marketing communications team will deliver value to the organization down the road. One of the health system’s marketing leaders shared that their vision for their team is to shape the best workforce in the industry – a rare objective in the healthcare space.
- This inquiry got the team thinking. How can marketers help recruit and engage employees in ways that connect with our larger brands?
- Other industries more commonly use their workforce as a brand differentiator. While health systems invest in talent, customer service, and patient satisfaction, most do not have a clear differentiator for how their workforce lives out their brand.
Brands that use workforce as a differentiator
- Apple’s Genius Bar is a good example of how the right workforce can make a difference. Apple opened its first store in 2001, despite the widespread belief that retail was going to fade out. Yet, today, Apple stores are a massively successful element of the world-class brand, much of which can be attributed to the staff and how they help you.
- Another example of a company that invests in developing its people is Chick-fil-A. All of the stores are corporate-owned, which means that becoming a store manager is very difficult. The selection is about culture fit, philosophy, and personality rather than the ability to shoulder the cost of a franchise location.
- While companies like Apple and Chick-fil-A are able to offer stand out consumer experiences based on their workforce, not many hospitals and health systems use that differentiator. This might be because most are focused on a generally good patient experience rather than a different patient experience.
- Of course, we recognize that selling chicken sandwiches and phones vs. healthcare delivery isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. But this differentiation is also starting to shine through in larger, more complex organization such as airlines.
- For example, Southwest and Delta Airlines invest heavily in their workforce brand by selecting and training employees to embody the airline’s brand personality – each personality very different from competitors. Could the healthcare industry begin to embrace a similar strategy?
Is now the right time to evaluate workforce brand?
- With the staff shortage stress in the healthcare industry, it’s fair to ask ourselves: is this the right time to talk about something as aspirational as workforce brand differentiation?
- It’s a toss-up. If health systems had focused on workforce as a brand differentiator five years ago, it could have paved the road for a simpler employer experience today. It would still be challenging to hire and retain staff, but these brands would have something to hang their hat on to say, “we are different, and here’s how.”
- Baystate Health took inspiration from Chick-fil-A recruiting by hosting open-house recruiting sessions. The system hosted these events at different hours to accommodate schedules, and attendees were guaranteed on-site interviews.
- There is also an angle to connect brand position to recruitment. For example, Amazon’s mission is to be earth’s most customer-centric company. Amazon makes that a prominent part of their hiring process, showing employees why Amazon is the right fit for them.
- This helps employees feel ownership over their roles in developing a brand. (this feels weird as it’s own bullet point. Is there a source for this?)
- If we feel like we are at rock bottom when it comes to our staffing efforts, investing in differentiating our workforces may be an opportunity to start to recover. As marketers, we know brand consistency is imperative to build a strong brand. But what about employer brand consistency – how do we create a consistent employee brand experience to build a differentiated workforce?