Interim leaders often play a vital role within health care facilities. When a critical position is unexpectedly vacated, the management team can be left scrambling to fill it. Interim leadership helps bridge that gap. Joe Thomas, a Senior Executive Consultant at Mission Search specializing in interim leadership, says it’s an in-demand sector of the healthcare industry—especially since the pandemic. Being in the trenches, he provides a unique perspective. Below are trends we can expect in the interim leadership space this year.
High Demand Is Here to Stay
“As with most health care right now, the demand is high across the board in the interim space,” says Thomas. “Over the past two years, health care has actually lost almost 20% of staffing. There’s a dramatic need in frontline nursing, which has also led to vacancies in leadership.”
He points to a relevant trend. Close to one in five health care workers have quit their jobs during the pandemic, according to a recent Morning Consult report. Health care workers—from the staff level to C-suite executives—have been inundated since the Covid-19 crisis began. Burnout has become commonplace, but recruiters are adapting and finding ways to create positive results amid the chaos.
“It gives us the ability to help these hospitals find leadership, especially on the interim level,” says Thomas, who works exclusively with critical access hospitals. “Their needs have dramatically increased as well because they serve very rural populations of America.”
Thomas works with an abundance of facilities in need of help, then steps in to connect them with qualified interim leaders who can take the weight off their shoulders. It goes without saying that he anticipates demand staying high in 2022.
Experienced Candidates Have a Leg Up
Interim leaders typically have lots of experience on their resume. In fact, Thomas says most have been in leadership roles for at least a decade and are looking to exit out of permanent roles.
“They love what they do and have the desire to help the future of health care but have also paid their dues and are closer to retirement,” he says. “They can continue to work as interim leaders while remaining independent from the political aspects of the hospital. They’re not there as employees. They’re there to help the hospital and give them their skill set and knowledge.”
In this way, seasoned health care workers who are looking for short-term work are having their moment right now. They’re also uniquely positioned to serve critical access facilities because they may be familiar with new technologies, procedures, and ways of working that haven’t yet trickled down to smaller facilities.
“Great interim leaders are folks who love to solve problems,” adds Thomas. “They’re also cultivating an environment so that the hospital has additional time to find a permanent candidate.”
Personalized Recruitment Is Critical
Thomas recognizes personalization as the most important factor in filling interim leadership roles.
“We have taken a very personal approach to identifying candidates who work in this arena and have a passion for it,” he says. “That’s what we’ve learned on our end.”
A major downfall of larger recruitment companies is the double-edged sword that is automation. While it makes it easier to find and place candidates, the process is anything but personal.
“That has somewhat taken out the human connection,” says Thomas. “For us, we’ve learned that we have to maintain the human connection at every level, along with the empathetic, sincere approach to help these facilities and interim leaders.”
Succession Planning Will Be Top of Mind
Thomas sees the interim leadership space expanding because health care has lost so much of its workforce over the last two years.
“The reason we’re going to see interim leadership grow is because we’re going to have that gap of the next group of leaders coming,” he says. “There won’t be the same transitional volume we’ve had in years past.”
As a result, many health care facilities are going to be tasked with putting succession plans in place now to stay ahead of that.
There are a lot of moving parts at play, but the interim leadership space is expected to continue growing in 2022. Mission Search understands this and is actively connecting in-need health care facilities with qualified transitional leaders.