Getting The Right Staff: Improving Healthcare Recruitment

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Any healthcare facility is only as good as the people who work in it. You can have the best offices in the area and access to all the best equipment, but if you don’t have the right people to go with it in terms of skills or attitude, you’re on a hiding to nothing. It’s more important to get recruitment right in healthcare than it is in almost any other profession in the world. The people who work in healthcare have people’s lives and well-being in their hands, and every single member of staff you employ is a reflection of how seriously you take that responsibility. 

In saying all of the above we’ve probably stated the obvious, but just because it’s obvious doesn’t necessarily make it easy. We all know that the healthcare profession has a high staff turnover rate, and if you’re constantly replacing employees who’ve left either your business or the profession, it’s hard to establish consistency. It also makes recruitment a constant priority at times when you’d prefer to be able to focus on other things. It’s also bad for patients, who don’t appreciate seeing someone different every time they come in for an appointment. 

To add to all of this, people with healthcare hiring responsibilities can’t afford to play roulette with their hiring and firing decisions in the way that’s so common in other industries, where people treat recruitment like it’s an online slots game. If they hire someone and don’t like the way things are going, they just ‘spin again’ as they would in slots if they’d failed to find a winner, and see if they like things any better next time around. That whole online slots mentality doesn’t work in health care – you can’t afford to gamble with people’s lives by taking a chance on someone who isn’t a good fit, and the reputation of your business will suffer if you do. 

What can you do to improve your chances of getting it right the first time? How can you appeal to the best and brightest possible recruits? There’s sadly no surefire method, but there are a few tricks that will boost your prospects. 

Offer Excellent Benefits

Most fields of healthcare pay good salaries, and chances are the amount you’re willing to pay someone to take a specific role is very similar to the amount your nearest rivals are willing to pay. Because of that, it’s not money that will encourage people to choose you and stay loyal to you; it’s the benefits that come with the job. Benefits don’t always have to be financial either – offering a clearly-defined route to career progression is a benefit. Having flexible hours is a benefit. Even having little perks like an on-site gym or a well-equipped cafeteria is a benefit. Think about ways you can make life better for your employees that may also benefit you. Providing free or discounted medical training for people in junior roles is a great way to bring in young people at the start of their career, and means they can grow within your company rather than looking elsewhere. 

Be Wary of People With ‘A Calling’

You may often hear it said that doctors and nurses feel ‘a calling’ to medicine – an emotional want or need to help the sick and the less fortunate. You might think that this makes them ideal candidates to work for you, but the reverse can sometimes be true. People who are emotionally compelled to take a job are also more likely to leave it when things don’t turn out the way they imagined they would. There’s such a thing as professional detachment in healthcare and medicine, and it helps healthcare providers to make fact-based, logical decisions when it comes to the care they provide. Your ideal recruit should be career-focused, and looking to work in healthcare because they see it as an excellent long term career, not an itch to be scratched. 

Offer Short-Term Trials

As many people reading this will have found out to their cost, there’s only so much you can find out from reading a resume and conducting an interview. A candidate who aces tests and charms everyone in the interview room can sometimes turn out to be thoughtless, unfocused, and unskilled when it comes to the job that you’ve hired them to do. It’s in everybody’s interest to bring people in on short-term contracts initially, and then award a longer-term contract when that contract is due to expire if they’re right for the role. This doesn’t mean offering them a lower salary – it just gives both you and the candidate the chance to assess each other and ensure that you make a good professional ‘fit.’ Any candidate who is nervous about this process probably isn’t the person you’re looking for – they clearly don’t have confidence that they’ll perform well enough to merit a longer-term appointment. 

Don’t Ignore The Little Things

Often, there are tiny little things that come up during the recruitment process that we put aside because everything else about the candidate seems fine. We ignore a series of grammatical and spelling mistakes on a resume because the candidate gave a great interview. We ignore strange-looking gaps in a resume because the candidate gave a brief explanation and then changed the subject. Often, these are signs of smaller problems that will develop into larger ones. The level of precision and attention to detail required in the healthcare profession is enormous. How much can you trust someone who didn’t even take enough care to correct basic mistakes on their resume? Would they do the same thing with someone’s medical notes, or even worse, their prescription? 

If all of the above advice sounds like common sense, it’s because it is. All too often, we ignore common sense when we’re hiring people because we either need to bring someone in urgently, or we think the good in a candidate outweighs the bad. Revise your employee benefits, filter out anyone who comes with little red flags, and limit your exposure to potentially bad appointments by offering trials. It may be more work at the recruitment stage, but we believe you’ll find yourself recruiting less often because of it. 

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