Health & Wellness Blog


4 Steps to Building a Healthcare Recruitment Strategy in New Zealand

Ben Cooper

Recruiting staff in the New Zealand healthcare sector has been a challenge for primary and secondary healthcare providers over the past few years, and statistics show few signs of the shortage easing up. As of December 2023, more than a quarter of nursing shifts were below target staffing numbers, and some wards operated below safe staffing levels nearly all of the time. 


This pressure on the New Zealand health system creates an exodus of skilled workers looking for better opportunities, and a competitive race between providers to bring in enough staff to fill the gaps and recruit the best talent of the bunch - all while providing a level of care that leaves patients feeling safe and looked after.

With such a high demand, your healthcare recruitment strategy needs to be built to anticipate market shortfalls, compete with other providers (domestically and internationally), and work proactively with a focus on retention and growth for staff.


Here are our four steps to building a healthcare recruitment strategy in the current New Zealand market that attracts, hires and retains top talent.


Step 1: Design your recruitment pipeline for the New Zealand Healthcare Sector

A recruitment pipeline is the method you’ll use to capture the attention of potential staff and bring them into the fold. We’d recommend spending some time designing your pipeline and creatively planning how far and wide you’ll cast the net, and how you’ll manage your prospects once they’re in your pipeline.


Because the current New Zealand market is so thinly stretched for qualified nursing staff, the most effective recruitment strategies we’ve seen take a creative approach to prospecting, utilising multiple channels, including:


Digital marketing:

Thanks to keyword and demographic targeting, platforms such as Linked In, Google and Facebook are the perfect tools to find healthcare professionals looking for work. Invest in paid advertising for roles to push your brand further than its typical reach, and get eyes on your organisation as a potential employer.


Graduate and sector events

Attending and exhibiting at industry events is the perfect way to showcase your brand to your target audience. Attendees head to these events to find future employers, giving you the opportunity to meet candidates in person and get a feel for who they are before they apply for roles.


This is especially true for recruitment events such as the Healthcare Job Fair and Nursing Job Fair - which target trained professionals - but also graduate career expos run by New Zealand Universities such as the Health and Wellness Careers Event.


Source internationally

Some of the most talented healthcare professionals currently live abroad and are looking for an opportunity to move for new experiences or a better lifestyle. Targeting these prospects is a strategic opportunity that should feature in your pipeline, especially for entry-level roles.


Make sure to list on international job boards, set your geo-targeting of ads to global locations, and have a dedicated page on your website to immigration for healthcare professionals.


Healthcare talent partner

Talent acquisition partners (such as Drake Medox) can be an essential part of your recruitment pipeline, as they have access to candidate databases and other more specialised healthcare professionals. Working with a recruiter can help you to map the most effective places to source talent, and assist with the screening process. You can read more about the advantages that a recruitment partner process can bring to your recruitment strategy, here.


Step two: Training, pathways and professional development

Considering training and career pathways in your healthcare recruitment strategy is crucial in the New Zealand market for two reasons;

Firstly, upskilling within your organisation is a highly attractive selling point for employees that leads to higher career satisfaction, feeling supported and long-term professional growth. But also, as graduate nurses move up the ranks, your organisation can focus on hiring for entry level roles. When developing your healthcare recruitment strategy, make sure to include promoting any growth opportunities your organisation can offer, including:


  • Competitive NETP and NESP graduate programmes for new nurses to attract recently graduated nursing staff
  • Providing paid upskilling in specialised areas of nursing that benefit your employee and organisation, such as becoming a registered vaccinator, triage nurse or practice manager.
  • Offering support and clear pathways for Enrolled Nurses to study and become Registered Nurses while working.
  • Encouragement and support for post-graduate and specialist nursing study such as Nurse Prescriber or Registered Nurse designated prescriber.
  • Regular workshops and training sessions on the latest techniques in support, use of adaptive technologies, and best practices in person-centred care.

Ultimately, if your prospective recruits can see a supported future and career growth within your organisation, you’re more likely to be their first pick.


Step three: Take a holistic approach to remuneration and benefits

It goes without saying that remuneration is a key factor in whether or not top talent will consider working for your organisation. That said, a good healthcare recruitment strategy will package up benefits in a holistic and appealing way, alongside remuneration, to stay competitive.


Flexibility where possible

One of the biggest advantages of shift work is that it can be fairly flexible and adjusted to suit the employee. If you’re able to offer flexible hours, a mix of casual, part-time or full-time roles, or even in some cases fixed hours, these are all attractive elements to promote in your healthcare recruitment strategy.

Lifestyle as a drawcard

Where your organisation is based can be an attractive factor in itself. This is especially true for international recruits coming to New Zealand, however, it can also be said for regional-based roles that boast smaller patient bases, or the fast-paced and exciting environment of city-based providers. Always consider what the location, pace and culture of your organisation brings to employees and promote this.


Step four: Focus on retention as a part of your healthcare recruitment strategy

An effective healthcare recruitment strategy should be proactive, as opposed to reactive. In the healthcare industry, this means rather than filling vacancies when they arise, you’ll consistently be sourcing talent ahead of the hiring curve and placing a heavy focus on retention and progression.


This year, NZNO Chief Executive Paul Goulter said the nursing staffing crisis remains a daily reality, with nurses continuing to leave because of burnout and concerns about pay and their health and safety at work. For a recruitment strategy focussed on proactive hiring and retention, these are key factors to consider within your planned approach.


To retain staff, focus on:

  • Interdependent healthcare roles: Somewhat unique to the industry, healthcare roles rely upon each other to alleviate workload. Make sure to place focus on hiring support staff for more in-demand roles like nurses (ie. clinic coordinators, managers and administration) to reduce the pressure on short-staffed teams. Staff who feel less stressed and supported are more likely to stay onboard.


  • Improving working conditions: One of the reasons many healthcare professionals begin in the industry is to help people. Unfortunately, nurses report that patient safety, heavy paperwork and unfairly distributed shifts detract from their ability to provide high-quality care. Working conditions can quickly become a driving factor for people to leave, if they’re not considered an integral part of your retention strategy.

The New Zealand healthcare recruitment market offers both unique challenges and opportunities.


While our compounding shortfall of trained workers makes for an extremely competitive market,     our country also offers opportunities in lifestyle, flexibility and career pathways that bolster remuneration as a draw card.

An effective recruitment strategy in the NZ market requires a creative approach, a holistic outlook and a specific focus on retention and career development - moving retained employees upwards while welcoming graduate roles.


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