Recruitment is a big talking point at the moment, both within healthcare and in other industries. And as more research highlights the importance of building the right team, it’s clear that an effective recruitment process is essential.
This article is based on a recent Power Talks webinar Rethinking Recruiting for Practitioners, hosted by Damien Adler, registered psychologist, co-founder of Power Diary and Head of Customer Success and Naomi Crosbie-Iwasaki, People and Culture Manager at Power Diary.
Packed with expert strategies for recruiting the right people to join your practice, it’s a deep dive into identifying, hiring and onboarding new team members with a broader perspective that considers the hiring landscape and your current team.
Hook the Right Candidate
Recruiting is similar to marketing your practice, in that you need to show that your practice is a good place to work. You can apply the same mentality used in commercial marketing to find the right people. If you’re struggling with recruiting and finding the right people, statistics show there’s a good reason for it:
The Hiring Landscape
Currently, allied health professionals make up 60% of the healthcare workforce, and job ads for psychologists, counsellors and social workers have increased by 37%.
Five of the top 10 “Hardest to Fill Roles” are roles for allied health professionals, and the worldwide shortage makes finding the right candidate difficult.
This shortage leads to a temptation to offer more money to fill positions, but that may make running your practice unsustainable. Instead, the focus should be not on trying to outbid other practices but on positioning yours as something different.
Over the past two years, we’ve seen changes to the entire working landscape, namely:
- Remote work: less common in health previously- has become more prevalent and easier to maintain with new technologies. People want to continue to work remotely and be able to take their calls from anywhere.
- Covid-19 and the after-effects: the healthcare industry became strained and pushed to its limits trying to provide services to people.
- Employee priorities: after spending time at home and with family, people became accustomed to those benefits and could take stock and determine that’s what they want from an employer.
- Meaningful work: people are no longer satisfied with just going to work and doing their job; they want to feel connected, engaged and part of the result. People want to be inspired by their work.
These factors make it challenging to recruit the best of the best if you don’t offer flexibility or even consider it. But for the healthcare industry, it’s easier to tap into people’s desire to be more engaged and find meaningful work because the very nature of the work is meaningful.
Update Your Hiring Mindset
The world has shifted, and things are different; what worked in the past doesn’t work anymore.
- The old ways don’t work – the previous mindset of interviewing and choosing the candidate based on who was most likeable no longer works.
- Attract the right candidate, NOT grant someone a job – move away from that old idea of selecting candidates primarily based on their experience and background, which is aimed at people who have already gained their knowledge.
- Hire for potential, be prepared to develop people – think about supporting candidates still early in their careers and build their skills and confidence. By doing so, you position yourself for the future by developing your future team members.
- Appreciate the preferences of the emerging workforce – don’t judge new candidates by how you assessed candidates in the past. The new emerging workforce has different priorities and expectations. Be open to being an employer of the future.
Look After Your Team
Before jumping into recruiting, you need to consider a few foundational things first. Make sure that you’re keeping up with your existing workforce. If you’re not looking after your current team, you may lose a few employees while trying to recruit new ones.
Some factors to consider include:
- Are existing team members happy? And are they able to voice concerns that will be heard and responded to?
- Understand the total reward – this refers not only to salary but to the full benefits the employee enjoys, including feeling like they’re being heard, respected, and involved.
- Management effectiveness – poor management and lack of development/learning are common reasons people leave jobs.
- Do your work practices support employees switching off?
Remember, you’re not becoming a pushover; you’re attending to the things that matter to your current and future employees.
And whilst you may not be able to make every change, you can take suggestions on board. At all times, be transparent; share with your team what you’re putting first and why.
Know Your Core Values, Mission & Vision
You need to know your core values, mission, and vision to attract and hire the right candidates. Implementing the guidelines below can align the practice’s needs with the recruitment process.
You want to:
- Be an inspirational place to work
- Define your practice culture
- Describe the employee characteristics that will support your culture
- Write it down to help make your recruitment decisions more consistent
Hire the Right Candidate
Once you define your core values, mission, and vision, ask yourself how people will align with them. By defining the aim of the practice and what you’re there to do, you can find the right candidates.
Step 1: Identify Ideal Candidates
Now that you’re ready to hire, the first step is identifying the ideal candidates.
- Structure the job description
- Be Creative!
- Determine what’s teachable and unteachable – is it potential that can be taught, or is it something that cannot be learnt?
- What are the deal breakers – what factors are not acceptable?
By identifying and being creative, you can save time by knowing what to look out for and when to move on. You’ll be able to preserve the culture of the practice and acknowledge when some candidates could be a good fit with a bit of help.
Step 2: Create the Job Listing
This is your opportunity to reach someone and stand out. Promote what you can offer them and avoid being too clinical.
Job ads should:
- Promote your practice; your job ad functions as a shop window, so promote the whole employee experience as well as the atmosphere and values of the practice
- Use plain language, be descriptive and authentic
- Include the day-to-day working environment and encourage the right people to engage as it will resonate with them
Step 3: Promote Your Job
Today there are many more ways to reach potential candidates than before.
- Going beyond job boards and job websites
- Going where your audience is, such as professional associations
- Using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Ads
- Word of mouth
- Personal and business social accounts
- Professional networks
- Leveraging existing employees (and offering a Referral Bonus)
Many of these options are free! They use existing channels to target suitable candidates without wasting time and money sifting through people who aren’t right for the job.
A Note on Using Recruitment Agencies
Recruitment agencies are always something worth considering. But it would help if you weighed up whether the cost vs benefit works for you.
Things to consider would be:
- Cost vs benefit
- Lost billings, budget not used while not paying salary
- The time it takes to recruit, lost revenue
- Agencies with large pools of candidates
Remember, although the cost of an agency may seem high, there is also a cost associated with an unfilled position. Some agencies may also have a clause regarding unsuccessful placements and replacing candidates and no additional charge.
Step 4: The Interview Process
Whilst the interview process is where you find out about the candidates, it’s just as much about the candidates learning more about you and the practice.
Follow these guidelines when interviewing to create fairness:
- Establish a structured recruitment process for all candidates
- Use different questions and areas of focus for each interview stage
- Have at least two interviewers in the meeting
- Two touch points – interview at least twice
- Match questions or tasks to real-life work situations
Think about whether this person demonstrates the sorts of skills and characteristics that you need; then, you can use behavioural-based questions and subtly sell your practice and the working experience.
Onboard Your New Team Member!
Now that you’ve found the right candidate, you need to onboard them. There are a few things to get right from the start.
Remember the Legal Basics
This is easy to overlook, but it’s imperative as it defines the expectations from both sides.
Have a contract with terms of the engagement, including:
- Registration insurance requirements
- Patient ownership
- Conflicts of interest
- Ownership of Intellectual Property
- Post-employment restrictions
Be prepared to negotiate some terms but be clear in establishing what you can and cannot do and what the employee can and cannot do as well. This is a tricky process but ensure the basics are always covered.
Offer a Positive Onboarding Experience
Make sure the experience is good for the new person.
- Use an onboarding checklist
- Provide a realistic start date, consider notice periods, breaks in between contracts etc
- Remember that it’s an ongoing process, so have a game plan for what happens after Day One
- Set objectives for new employees – don’t leave them without a purpose
- Consider how you welcome new employees to the team
Avoid handing over too much at once whilst deciding where they will fit into the team. And remember, it’s a constant evolution. Be present and be engaged.
Finding the right employee and offering them a great onboarding experience benefits every aspect of your practice, from the client experience to your team’s motivation, which all directly or indirectly impact your bottom line.
Don’t expect to get everything right from the outset. Take the points we’ve covered, apply them and continue to tweak your approach as you progress.
And, if you need help, within Power Diary, we have a built-in practice manual with policies and procedures that can be used and modified for your practice. In our operations manual, you can access pre-written policies that address team conduct, customer service, administration, support, development, and more.