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Digital Recruiting of European Labor for Danish Public Health Organizations

Objective and participants

The public healthcare sector in many countries faces a recruitment crisis. As the pandemic demonstrated, the lack of staff in healthcare organizations threatens public health and is among the most pressing policy problems. Policymakers struggle to find ways to recruit healthcare workers. Together with The People Lab at Harvard Kennedy School, we partner with public health organizations and governmental partners in Denmark to test interventions related to recruitment and retainment – the MoRe-Project (Megastudy on Recruitment).

The core question is: What measurements can be used to effectively attract nurses and nursing assistants in international, digitalized labor markets, especially to more rural areas?

Past research suggests that offering employer value propositions such as incentives might help. For instance, WHO strongly recommends bundles of financial and non-financial incentives but admits that the certainty of evidence for such recommendations is low (World Health Organization, 2021, p. xv). The literature echoes the consistent evidence gap and moans the lack of knowledge on interventions on recruitment and retention of nursing jobs.

Research approach

We apply the new megastudy approach (Milkman et al., 2021; Nature) and realize a massive field experiment in order to simultaneously evaluate and compare the effectiveness of several different interventions on objectively measured recruitment outcomes like interest in a job and actual applications.

We focus on an employer-driven recruitment approach, i.e. we will use digital tools to identify and contact skilled nurses and nursing assistants (ca. 100,000). We send them personalized text messages on social media job platforms inviting them to apply for a public health job in Denmark, randomly assign them to receive one of the different interventions or a control condition.

We develop these intervention bases on a co-design approach between research and practice with five steps. First, we will draw on a consolidated cross-disciplinary overview recruitment studies to review scientific recommendations for interventions. Second, we conduct co-design workshops with nurses who have immigrated to Denmark, as well as recruitment practitioners and public leaders, to draw on the collective know-how of practice. Third, we will make use of expert surveys among researchers and practitioners to rank the interventions and predict their effectiveness. Fourth, we will test the most promising interventions developed by researchers and by practitioners in an adaptive randomized control trial. Fifth and finally, we plan to validate our results in different occupational and country contexts.

Additional information

The project is lead by Assistant Professor Florian Keppeler, together with Professor Christian Bøtcher Jacobsen, Leader of Research in Healthcare Leadership and Member of the Danish National Commission for a Robust Healthcare System. Niels Højberg, Senior Consultant at the Center, is responsible for the co-design process with practice as well as the dissemination of the research results.

The international partner, The People Lab at Harvard Kennedy School, is represented by Elizabeth Linos, Emma Bloomberg Associate Professor of Public Policy and Management, and Helen Ho, Research Director of The People Lab.