The Cure for the Common Staffing Ailment

David_Cassar_PictureBy David Cassar

Today 30 million Americans are exercising their freedom to work independently, some choosing to add independence as a side gig, while others use it as their primary source of income. With the increased resource demands on the health care industry these proud, bold independents are a vital link in your staffing strategy.

Staffing has become increasingly complex in recent years. There are greater demands on the system with fewer resources. The uncertainty of the supply of workers and the critical need to improve operating efficiencies may be the reason that financial challenges top the list of issues facing health care executives. Adding to the challenge is a changing workforce that is seeking flexibility and greater control of their careers.

All of these pressures are driving a shift in how you build and staff your organization. While your permanent staff is focused on delivering care and maintaining your operations, there is always a need for supplemental and specialized help to keep you moving forward. Independent workers are an integral part of this staffing equation.

Rehabilitate Your Approach

The first step in procuring top independent talent is to shift how you think about work. There are core skills and tasks that must be performed by employees. Outside of that, there may be problems that have a clear scope and defined work deliverables that can be performed by independent workers. For example, you may hire an independent contractor to assess and improve your organizational process to control MRSA or you may hire an independent professional to work on promotions and communications for your annual 5k cancer walk. You may also have seasonal demands that require additional staffing.

The next step is to develop a standardized plan that includes how you will hire and manage traditional and contingent workers. This plan should have checks and balances to minimize your risk of independent contractor misclassification, wage and hour lawsuits and more. For example, when vetting potential independent contractors you should verify that they are qualified and have the proper credentials.  Court cases such as Monk v. O’Connell and Emergency Physician Assocs. (App. Div. Oct. 11, 2012) are a cautionary reminder that you can be liable for the behavior of your independent contractors.  You will also want to verify that they market their services to the public, and have a history of other clients.  To attract the best talent it is important to have a process tailored to independent workers, and their needs.

A New Cure for an Old Problem

Most health care organizations are already familiar with using staffing firms or Managed Service Providers, such as Randstad to source and retain contract talent. You may also have used third party vendors for a specific function such as payroll.

An innovative option to consider is a managed contractor cloud. This option allows you to create your own curated talent pool from previous contractors, former employees or even past job candidates. This strategy enables you to find top talent that may not be using staffing firms or MSPs.  In fact, our recent State of Independence in America report revealed that word of mouth remains the primary source of work for independent workers. These high performing professionals are not turning to agencies to find work but connecting directly with potential clients.

The managed contractor cloud is a shift from sourcing talent as needed to using independent workers to build a virtual bench of talent that can be called on at any given time. Some of these independent contractors may also be tapped to fill future permanent positions. The managed contractor cloud changes the focus from immediate need to building a strategic base of top performing independent workers. You are keeping track of the best talent that is missed by other staffing and procurement options. As an added bonus, you can ensure that you are getting the best value because you can put your projects out to bid through your own managed contractor cloud.

As health care evolves its models for meeting patient, public and regulatory demand, the managed contractor cloud facilitates a proactive way to manage the new work landscape. You and your organization have the opportunity to proactively source talent while growing a trusted contingent talent community.

Post Op Care

However you choose to procure and manage talent, it is imperative to recognize the paradigm shift in how people choose to work. Self-employment is no longer confined to physicians and traveling nurses but is a mainstream choice available to a wide range of talent from IT professionals to crisis response teams needed in the health care industry. To engage the best talent, the development of a seamless process that allows you to hire the best person for the job regardless of the work arrangement is a necessity. Put a standardized system in place to procure, vet and manage your contract talent to ensure that all of your work arrangements are compliant and do not put you at legal risk. Lastly, create a feedback loop for managers and independent workers. This will ensure that you identify top performing contractors and cultivate an environment in which they want to work.

David Cassar is the Vice President, Enterprise Solutions at MBO Partners. He is responsible for leading the company’s enterprise client business development and implementing customized independent contractor engagement programs. David is a certified Senior Human Resource Professional (SPHR), and has held Board of Directors roles in the Human Resources field as Treasurer and Secretary of a Mega Chapter of the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM).

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