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Flexibility, Balance and Work That Matters: Thriving in a Tight Labor Market


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports on employment and labor information in more ways than you can imagine and is a goldmine of geekdom for human resources nerds like me. In the BLS report from this past December, they stated that there were 7.3 million open jobs in the United States. That’s the highest level in our history.

More job opportunities seems to be an indicator of a robust economy. That’s good news, right? Right! But that data also confirms what human resources professionals around the country are experiencing every day: This is a highly competitive employment market in which we are all struggling to hire and retain the talent we need. So, while the BLS data verified what I was seeing, it also scared the heck out of me.

What does 7 million open jobs mean for U.S. employers? It means our employees have more options (that’s a good thing), but it also means we have to be extremely competitive to attract and retain the staff we need. For Qualis Health and HealthInsight specifically, 7 million open jobs means:

  • On average, there is just one applicant for each open job. In 2010, there were seven applicants per opening. The market has gone from 7:1 to 1:1!
  • It takes us up to 40 days to fill critical support level roles — 15 days longer on average than in 2017. That’s not bad, but it’s not good enough.
  • Our annual turnover is 13%. Also not bad, but also not good enough.
  • On any given day, we have 10-12 open positions. That’s about 3% of our total staff. That is a good ratio. But still not good enough.

The reality is, no matter how fast we fill empty positions or how few vacancies we have or how low our turnover is, it’s just not good enough. Even one unfilled job means one less staff member working toward achieving our mission to improve health and health care. Not to be overly dramatic here, but every open position impacts people’s lives. That’s the reality!

So, how do we attract and retain employees in such a competitive environment? For one thing, we focus on our “levers.” Levers are those elements of working for our organization that resonate with and engage the candidates we want. What are some of our big levers?

  • Flexibility in work schedules
  • Healthy work-life balance
  • Organizational values that connect to people’s personal values
  • Careers that make a difference
  • Literally hundreds of incredibly smart and dedicated staff members

Those are all benefits of working for Qualis Health and HealthInsight. But it is the commonality that underlies all those levers that is most intriguing to me: they all are indicators of caring. The levers appeal to people who care — about their work and their colleagues, about themselves and their families, about their communities and their fellow human beings. Those are the people who work here and those are the people we want more of: Qualified individuals who care about making a difference in the world. That’s our big lever. That’s how we compete for talent in a 1:1 employment market.

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