Recruitment & Selection—Step Two of Building the Right Healthcare Culture

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By Rhonda Larimore

Recruitment and selection for a healthcare organization is step two of creating the right healthcare culture.  What is step one?  I am sure that you will figure it out.   Selection of the right candidate who best matches the organizational culture sets the baseline for employee behavior, employee interaction with patients and families and employee to employee relationships.  Without a match to culture, organizations are setting themselves up for long-term retention issues.  Without retention of employees who match organizational culture, results at best will not improve and at worse will suffer.

First, it is important to realize that recruitment and selection decisions cannot be made on the spot.  There was a past trend to interview and make a job offer on the spot pending background  checks.  This type of recruitment and selection practice is adverse to creating the best healthcare culture and work environment.  Selection decisions take time.  Hiring decisions take specific effort and focus on the organizational values and mission.  They cannot be made instantaneously after one quick meeting with a prospective employee.   When you have a vacancy or multiple vacancies, you may think that time is the last thing you have.  Just remember, rushing hiring decisions likely means you will be making them again in the near future due to turnover.

To select and hire the right individuals, organizations must first have defined their mission and values.  These two areas set the baseline for human resources practice, including recruitment and selection.   Mission and values help define the interview process. For example, behavioral based interview questions should be determined based upon values.  A value of putting patients and families first should have a question related to how the individual demonstrated putting a patient and family need first or better yet how he/she anticipated patient and family needs.  A value of dignity and respect should include a behavioral based question demonstrating how the applicant displayed dignity and respect.  Behavioral based examples should be relevant to the work environment.  Ensure examples related to healthcare interactions or directly to the job at hand.  If an office clerical position, the examples should relate to that type of work environment.  Hiring managers should not be afraid to ask follow-up questions to clarify and get more detailed responses.  The best indicator of how an applicant will perform/behave in your culture is how they have performed/behaved in other cultures.

When recruiting and selecting your future employees, keep in mind that all jobs are important to the healthcare experience and should be treated as such.  There is no such thing as “just filling a job.”  Employees are the face to patients and families.  Those in non-clinical positions have many interactions with patients and families and require the same amount of focus on selection.  I refer to these individuals as in-direct caregivers.  They may not physically touch a patient but their interactions with and impact on patients and families are critical.  They park cars.  They process admissions.  They clean rooms. They feed patients.  They give directions. They hold a hand.  The list goes on and on.  These employees require the same behavioral skills are direct caregivers.  Compassion, empathy, communication skills, decision making, integrity, critical thinking and collaboration are just a few skills as examples.  Commit today to changing the way you recruit and select for these positions.  Many times they create the first impression that a patient has — make it a great one by investing in selection.

Another significant way to impact selection decisions is through the implementation of a pre-employment assessment.  This type of assessment can assist in measuring the fit for your culture.  This assessment is not a cookie cutter solution, but built to best meet the needs of your culture.  It will measure what you want it to measure.  Identify the things most important to your culture and measure it.  The assessment results are based upon self-reported answers of the applicant. In some cases, his/her answers will not match what is best for your culture even if you believed he/she to be a great candidate based upon an interview.  Interviews are subjective.  Pre-employment assessments are more objective.  They are not perfect, but the answers provided directly by applicants do paint a picture of what his/her behavior and actions will be.  When using these assessments, trust the responses and outcomes before your subjective interview opinions.  If implemented in the process prior to the actual interview process, your interview can be used to ask more specific behavioral questions based upon the applicants self report responses.

Step one should be relatively clear by now.  Mission and values must exist.  An organization cannot recruit and select based upon mission and values if the mission and values do not exist or exist but are not reinforced in all aspects of work culture.  It is easy to talk about mission and values but it can be difficult to make the day to day decisions that support mission and values.  Culture is created by leaders and employees making day to day decisions – decisions that support values.  Make your start today by re-thinking the way you recruit and select.

Rhonda Larimore is VP, Human Resources & Support Service for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the President of hccDYNAMIX LLC. For more information, visit www.hccdynamix.com.