Cost of living crisis: the impact on career progression and talent attraction in the healthcare sector

1st June 2023
Corinne Attwood
Senior Researcher

Following a 41-year inflation rate high late last year, it would be fair to say 2023 is proving challenging for most.

Since Covid-19, clients have driven the hiring in a healthcare market with fewer job opportunities. In such an environment the individual was at the whim of the organisation. But the Covid-19 experience led to one clear response from people: if they were not happy in their current role then life was too short not to look for something better.

However, we are now seeing an emerging candidate-driven market in both the public and private healthcare sector, with individuals reaching out to us for our support in their job search but being clear about their expectations.

Recent research by, has found that one-in-three workers (33%) have applied for, or have considered applying for a new job, with the cost-of-living crisis significantly impacting the priorities of most workers (65%).


At Berwick Partners we spend a lot of time getting to know our candidates, finding out what motivates them and where their interests lie, but also understanding the coordination of their job search. We are now seeing more candidates wanting to explore different sectors, from not-for-profit and the NHS to private healthcare providers. However, in the current climate, candidates are cautious about losing their current salary and benefits package.

Candidates generally consider two key factors: hybrid working arrangements and commuting costs, alongside the overall package. This includes pension plans, annual leave allowance, private healthcare insurance, car allowance/mileage, and any bonus structure.

Previously we saw individuals change roles for a clear step up in seniority if remuneration was in the same ballpark. Recently however, candidates express concerns on taking even a slight financial hit despite opportunities offering career progression and a more senior leadership role.

Ironically, lack of career progression and wanting a director title or board role are among the main criteria for seeking a new opportunity. Particularly in transitioning to different sectors for these roles, candidates understand they need to upskill, and so it is not always feasible to achieve the same remuneration as their current earnings. For companies trying to hire outside of their sector, personal financial constraints are therefore a significant barrier to hiring people who can bring a fresh perspective and transferable skills.

However, it is a challenge that can be solved with the right conversation. As executive search partners, specialising in various sectors such as manufacturing, procurement, and retail, we understand that bridging the gap between a client’s needs and a candidate’s aspirations can be daunting.

We can advise clients on their salary banding and recently we were able to increase the salary of a candidate moving from a Hospice into the NHS. We were also able to attract additional candidates because of this.

Candidates appreciate we take their feedback seriously and they often share this with our clients. We are then able to negotiate salaries and determine whether flexibility that can be offered.

Like many other sectors, the cost of living is having an impact on recruiting into the healthcare sector. However, there are ways and means of meeting these challenges. We encourage clients to be open to salary negotiations and feedback from candidates on remuneration and flexibility requirements. From a candidate perspective, we encourage them to look beyond salary, where possible, and the look closely at the longer-term objectives for aspiring leaders.

Corinne Attwood is a healthcare recruitment researcher for Berwick Partners executive search. As part of the Odgers Berndtson Healthcare team, Berwick Partners recruits senior leadership roles nationally for NHS, not-for-profit and private healthcare clients. Our experience spans NHS clients across acute, specialist, community, mental health, commissioning, and system level.

Berwick Partners’ Private Healthcare practice is one of the leading healthcare recruitment firms for senior professionals. We work with a wide range of healthcare service providers, from diagnostics to mental health to allied healthcare to help appoint outstanding individuals across all senior functions.

This article was written by Corinne Attwood. Corinne is a Researcher within the Healthcare Practice.

Find out more about our NHS Recruitment Practice here.

Find out more about out Private Healthcare Recruitment Practice here.

Categories: NHS Healthcare, Private Healthcare