Recruiting And Retention Trends For 2018

The healthcare landscape is constantly changing and if you’ve been recruiting the same way for a while now, or haven’t updated your compensation and benefits offering, chances are you’re missing out on some really great candidates.

Here are a few of the trends we see for recruiting and retention in 2018:


Employer Provided Healthcare Plans

Speaking of changing landscapes, the state of healthcare coverage in the US is changing at lightspeed.  With the ever-growing complexity, uncertainty, and hassle of getting their own insurance, employees are valuing an employer-offered health insurance plan more than they ever have before.  

Work/Life Balance

Employees are placing more of an emphasis on work/life balance.  Studies have shown that more manageable hours at work also tend to be more productive.  Asking an employee to put in 60 hours a week doesn’t make sense when it leaves them tired, in a negative mood, and wanting to find a job elsewhere.  

Paid Time Off

Tying into our previous work/life balance trend, this one seems obvious, but we’ve had multiple clients seeking to bring on a provider without any PTO during the first year.  In a market that is so competitive, offering anything less than 3-4 weeks PTO just means that candidate will get hired by the competition.  PTO shouldn’t be looked at as a luxury, but instead it should be seen as a quality-of-life necessity.  We all need to recharge our batteries, and employees will likely come back to work more energized and happier.

Give Employees More Control

Many companies are using employee portals to allow their employees access to information regarding their PTO, benefits, direct deposit, timesheets, etc.  Using a portal gives employees more control over their job and the benefits that come along with it.

These are just a few things to be thinking about as we head into a new year and try to recruit and retain employees whose priorities are changing all the time.

Spend Less On Recruiting And More On Providers

Wait, a recruiting firm is telling you to spend less on recruiting?  Well, kind of ...  What we really mean is: spend less on placement fees and use that extra budgeted money on provider salaries and other recruitment incentives, in order to make your opportunity stronger than your competitor’s.


Let’s say your practice is growing and you need to hire one new full-time physician provider each quarter.  Being that you’re busy growing your practice, you’ll need to hire a recruiter to find that perfect physician candidate each time.  The downside to using a recruiter is the expensive placement fees - or at least that used to be the downside.  

Historically, contingency recruiters charged a percentage of the new employee’s annual salary, typically 20%, which can vary wildly based on the physician’s specialty; but it’s pretty safe to say that $20k+ would be a common fee.  We think that number’s way too high, so we started our own contingency healthcare recruiting firm where we charge much less than “industry standard”.

We’re very upfront with our fees and they can be seen right here on our website’s services and fees page.  For example, our highest fee is our full-time physician placement fee at $8,500.  If you’ve budgeted for the low-end of the typical physician recruiter placement fee at $20k, that means you would now have $11,500 to put towards making your opportunity look even better.  Why not roll that money into the provider’s salary or offer a sign-on bonus?  Money isn’t everything, but it sure helps when you’re trying to recruit good physicians in a highly competitive healthcare market.

So, before you overpay a recruiting firm because their fees are “the norm”, why not try a more streamlined, cost efficient firm at the same time?  Contingency firms have no exclusivity rights (read your contract, but they shouldn’t), so if you end up paying the lower fee, use that extra money to make your provider opportunity’s compensation package even more attractive.

Contingency vs. Retained Recruiting

Not all recruiting firms are created equal.  One of the biggest differences is whether a firm works on a retained or a contingency business model.

So, what’s the difference between the two?  To put it simply, a retained recruiting firm must be paid to conduct your search whether they find your perfect candidate or not.  A contingency firm is only paid if a client decides to hire a candidate through them.

At Creative Healthcare Solutions, we are technically a contingency recruiting firm.  I say “technically” because two of the three partners behind the company come from a retained search background and wanted to incorporate what they know to be the advantages of that model into the accessibility and affordability of contingency recruitment.  In our firm, we truly believe our clients can have the best of both worlds and we’ve created a new model to provide that.

Many contingency recruiters believe in quantity over quality, but we prefer to do things differently.  Instead of blindly forwarding every resume in which a candidate looks good “on paper”, we take the time to have thoughtful conversations with every qualified applicant, so we can ensure they’re the right fit for the position on a deeper level and that their motivations and professional goals are aligned with our clients.  

We also invest time on the phone with our clients at the onset of every search.  We schedule an onboarding call with the hiring organization, so that we fully understand the opportunity, the company culture, and what makes an ideal employee.  We find that even a short call (that’s respectful to busy schedules) before we start recruiting can save hours later on in the process.  Having all the details and a clear understanding means we can do a better job screening candidates which, in turn, means clients only receive appropriate applications.

And our candidate presentations go beyond what most contingency recruiters provide.  In addition to the candidate’s resume or CV, we include an upfront summary with important information, such as whether they’re seeking full-time or part-time, how many years of experience they have, current licenses, certification status, communication style, etc.  

If you’ve ever struggled to decide between engaging a contingency or retained recruiter, we encourage you to consider using a hybrid of both.  At CHS, we provide retained quality services for the friendly prices and fee schedule of a contingency firm.

You're Probably Paying Too Much For Physician Recruiting

Right now, you may be thinking about hiring a new healthcare provider and asking yourself, “How much should I pay a physician recruiting firm?”  According to Forbes, placement fees are typically “a percentage of the employee's first year compensation package and can range from 15% - 25%” of the individual’s total annual income.  But what does that mean in dollar amounts

If we look at Medscape’s 2017 Physician Compensation Report, we see the average annual full-time physician salary is $294,000.  Even if we take the average salary for the lowest paid specialty (pediatrics) at $202,000, that equals a placement fee between $30,300 - $50,500.

There is certainly a cost to recruiting, especially in a field as competitive as physician staffing, but it’s difficult to see a justification for fees of $30,000 - $50,000.  As technology has improved, so has the cost of doing business - but the fees that recruiting firms charge have not changed.  Creative Healthcare Solutions was founded on the belief that recruiting services should be accessible to practices of all shapes and sizes.  Our fees are much lower than the industry standard, but our services are not.  We find savings simply by embracing modern technology and cutting out unnecessary frills, which reduces our overhead and allows us to pass on that value to our clients.  

Most recruiting firms try to hide their fees or drag prospective clients through a lengthy negotiation process.  We do the opposite.  Our fees are listed directly on our website, which can be seen here.  The short version of the story is that our highest provider placement fee is for a full-time physician (any specialty) and is $8,500.

Creative Healthcare Solutions is now in its fourth year of business and we’ve seen exponential growth every year.  This is largely due to satisfied clients returning to us, as we have been able to present qualified candidates to 90% of our clients within 30 days.  As with many industries, someone is going to come along and figure out how to get the job done cheaper, faster, and better.  We are proud to be one of those companies.

Internal Recruiters vs. Contingency Recruiters

They say only two things in life are certain: death and taxes.  Another April has come and another tax season has ended.  Now it’s time for budgets to be created and money to be allocated for the 2017 tax season.  As your practice grows, one of those budget items will be for recruiting new talent - whether that means paying for ad space to recruit more office staff and administrative personnel or hiring an internal or contingency recruiter to find mid-level providers and physicians.

Internal Recruiters

Hiring an internal recruiter makes sense when you need to onboard a high number of providers on a regular basis.  According to, the median physician recruiter salary is $72,844 per year, with the national range being $63,978 - $84,443.  Now, let’s not forget about those taxes!  A recent article by CNN Money asks, “How much does an employee really cost?”  While that depends on benefits and several layers of taxes, it typically ends up being 18% to 26% more than an employee's base salary (and even higher for large companies).  This means that if you hire a recruiter at $70,000, that employee will actually cost you closer to $88,000 per year.

Contingency Recruiters

Alternatively, opting for a contingency recruitment firm like Creative Healthcare Solutions is much more cost-effective, especially if you are hiring at a lower volume or have intermittent needs.  Our rates are far lower than the typical contingency recruiter, who charges 15-20% of an employee’s first year salary.  With the average physician annual salary at $189,000, many contingency recruiters are charging $28,000-$38,000 per placement.  Being a small, streamlined firm, Creative Healthcare Solutions is able to charge a flat placement fee of $8,500 for a full-time physician.  Again, let’s not forget taxes … but, this time, you’re using a vendor and your recruiting expenses are a deduction.  At $8,500 per full-time physician hire, it only makes sense to hire an internal recruiter if you plan to bring on more than 10 full-time physicians per year.

In conclusion, we’d like to leave you with this handy image to illustrate the internal vs. contingency recruiter decision-making process: