Healthcare workers are in demand and, according to a new Glassdoor survey, they're on the lookout for better jobs. Companies that develop smart strategies to recruit and keep these professionals will have an easier time handling growth over the next six years, when healthcare is projected to surpass professional and business services to become the largest segment of the U.S. economy.

This expansion, from the current 17 million healthcare jobs to 22 million by 2020, means the competition for already scarce healthcare workers will get even tougher. That affects businesses of all sizes, from hospital enterprises like HCA Holdings (NYSE: HCA) and the vast in-store retail clinic operations of CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) and Walgreen Company (NYSE: WAG) on down to rural outpatient clinics, private practices, nursing-care facilities, and home health services.

Right now there's a lot of movement within the industry as workers seek better pay, perks, and working conditions. Glassdoor's survey found that 64% of the workers surveyed plan to seek out a new job within the next year—and more than 40% plan to launch their job search in the next three months. With such high demand for skilled medical staff, it's understandable that workers would look for the best situations.

But it's also telling that only one healthcare company made each of Glassdoor's recent lists of the best companies for pay and perks (Kaiser Permanente) and the 50 best big places to work (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). What can other employers learn from them and from healthcare workers' responses to Glassdoor's latest survey?

Great pay helps a lot. Not surprisingly, pay is the primary motivator for healthcare professionals' job search plans. And while 66% of the workers surveyed told Glassdoor they would take less pay to work for a company or hospital with "a great culture," 75% of survey respondents listed salary as the top reason to seek another job.

Creating a healthy workplace culture 

Companies that can't pay top dollar for talent need to take a careful look at the culture angle, because it may be their best hope of hiring and holding on to good people. What makes a healthcare culture great, according to employees? It can be the work environment and the people, but it can also come from a sense of working toward a good cause.

Employee reviews of Kaiser Permanente and Memorial Sloan Kettering show different cultures that appeal to healthcare workers. Several Kaiser healthcare workers cite the company's atmosphere, with one 25-year employee of the company explaining, "Management was supportive of the staff and allowed us to put new processes and practices to benefit patient care." Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center workers praised the center's sense of mission, "a sense that you're doing something for a great cause."

The good news about culture, for companies that can't compete on pay, is that it's available to any organization that's willing to do some brainstorming and then follow through. Will Staney, Glassdoor's head talent warrior, said the key is listening to employees.

"Before asking, 'How do we make our culture better?' you must first ask, 'What is our culture? What do people care about? What is and isn't working?'" Staney said. "From there, you can determine core values and foster a culture that reinforces them."

Reaching healthcare workers more efficiently

One surprising item gleaned from the Glassdoor survey is that men and women in healthcare tend to network differently. More men than women say they find job leads through conferences and recruiters, while women—who make up the majority of the healthcare workforce—tap their personal and professional connections for job openings. That means that to reach as many qualified applicants as possible, recruiters need to pay attention to both structured and informal networks.

That's where social media can play a big part. While less than a quarter of survey respondents said they now find jobs through social media, social media outreach ranked first on their list of preferred recruiting tactics. These days, that kind of outreach goes beyond just posting job openings on Twitter, although that's a good idea, too.

"Today, social recruiting means more than reaching out to candidates, it also means carefully constructing and monitoring your company's social channels," Staney said. This "employer branding" should give job candidates an "authentic look at what your company is really like to work for—and that message must be the same, not just on your careers page, but across your social channels as well."

Over the next five years and likely beyond, healthcare employers need to build appealing workplace cultures, tap conferences and informal networks, and manage seamless social-media identities in order to stay competitive. Companies that follow this prescription will be in a strong position to attract and hold on to in-demand healthcare professionals.