Planning is essential for a successful Open House

February 15

In these competitive times, almost every healthcare organization has either had or is planning an Open House event. Instead of just picking a date about two weeks in advance and placing some print advertisements, the more you prepare properly the better the outcomes.

First of all, we recommend a 2-month lead-time (or at least 6 weeks) and definitely include the affected managers in the planning. For fun and to add some excitement to your Open House, choose a theme (holiday oriented, Luau, Sock Hop, etc.). Have decorations and possibly outside vendors related to the theme that can keep candidates entertained while they are waiting. Department heads can decorate their table(s) for the event (table for each area that is recruiting). In fact, having an internal contest to select the department that has the best table decorations and/or giveaways is a good idea. Develop a floor plan to include a welcome table for signing in and a room with lots of space for the other department tables. You may want to consider a children's area where parents can drop off their kids while they are interviewing. Another nice touch is providing greeters at the entrance, who are knowledgeable and passionate about this event. Providing a script for your greeters may be another consideration.

Coordinate your food and beverages to match your theme. Consider door prizes and/or drawings for prizes. Be sure and make or order signs to place in strategic places to direct traffic to the proper location. You may want to have large hot air balloons, which quickly identify your event. Most importantly schedule internal meetings to ensure all participants know their roles. The day of the event, have a brief staff meeting, update any changes and review the plans for the day.

Promotion of your Open House should include at a minimum more than one media and preferably three or more media vehicles. Print ads should begin 2-3 weeks in advance. Other media to consider would be direct mail, radio, email campaign, landing page to pre-register candidates and possibly banners on key sites again directing traffic to the landing page.

Another thoughtful suggestion would include exit greeters handing out "goodie bags" as attendees leave the event. The "goodie" items should coincide with your theme.

To follow-up, enter applicants into your applicant tracking system. This could be done during the event with laptops at specific stations. Send online postcards to each attendee thanking them for coming, as well as sending thank you notes to your entire team who assisted with this event. Lastly, analyze the event to determine what worked best and what didn't do as well. Make a record of ideas for your next event. Measure your ROI.

Submitted by Judith Russell BSN, RN National Vice President, Healthcare Sector for TMP Worldwide/Monster Worldwide. From our healthcare newsletter Stat Line.

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