Tis the Season

February 15

This has no doubt been a challenging year for those engaged in workforce planning issues but it has also been a year that demanded reflection and a reevaluation of our priorities and solutions. As the pundits pontificate, making projections about unemployment stats, the end of the recession and the future of our healthcare system, I urge you to consider some action items in an area where you can have a direct impact. So in the spirit of "New Year's", new beginnings and reflection — I encourage you to consider some of the following action items as you prepare for the new recruitment and workforce planning year ahead.

Ask the hard questions

Reach out to your most vocal hiring managers and ask for their opinion regarding your recruitment activities. Be open to their feedback but also be prepared to discuss how they can contribute to improving the outcome. Ask specific questions: How is the communication, the slate of candidates, the overall recruitment process? If you are the manager, ask how your recruiters are doing. You may assume you know their opinion but having the dialog will demonstrate your interest in improving service and getting the job done, plus it will also provide an opportunity for you to educate them regarding your needs.

Find that elusive "process killer"

No doubt you have a sense regarding what works and what doesn't in your hiring processes. Take the guess work out of it and really assess your shortcomings. For example: How many days does it take from offer to start and where are the delays, if any? Can new hire paperwork be streamlined? Can you gather necessary on boarding info before the job offer so there are fewer delays once the offer has been made. Do you get back to applicants after the final selection has been made? There are dozens of steps to the hiring process and each one is fraught with opportunity to cause delays and potentially alienate applicants. What can you do to improve your processes?

Go to lunch

If your schedule is anything like mine was as the Director of Staffing for a major medical center, I know you barely have time to grab a cup of coffee let alone have lengthy conversations. However, that is exactly what you need to do. Get out on the floor; make rounds to see new hires, talk with your hiring managers and ask about short- and long-term goals, as well as hiring projections. Re-engage in conversation with key recruitment partners to better understand the external recruitment landscape. Take the time to develop key partnerships both internally and externally. As one of my former mentors always said "It's all about the relationship."

What's your strategy?

We often talk about strategy - but what is yours? Too often it is a collection of tactical solutions cobbled together to solve short-term problems. If you haven't completed the following discovery process recently, I suggest you obtain and analyze the following demographics of your workforce — or at the very least key departments. Assess the age, ethnicity, educational background and growth potential of the staff. Look at overtime reports and agency usage. All of this data will help inform you regarding where your gaps are gauge future needs and staffing vulnerabilities. Look at turnover and time-to-fill on a very granular level. Do you have any weaknesses? Also, evaluate your hiring objective — for example, is it quality of hire, speed of the process, long-term retention, educational pedigree, diversity? This is a lengthy but very important exercise that will help you create a roadmap of future solutions and priorities.

Be prepared

Despite minimal hiring in many sectors this past year, we all know that this landscape will change. We don't necessarily know when, but we do know it will change and when it does I suspect there will be a tsunami of hiring going on. Take time to prepare yourself and embrace this new opportunity with vigor. Make time now to read about best practices, learn about new innovative solutions, talk to your counterparts in various geographical locations and read about staffing issues in different industries. Dare to consider new and bold solutions.

"Tis the season of new beginnings, hope for the future and new perspectives. Consider your role in leading the way. If you can help equip your organization with effective hiring tools and processes, a definitive recruitment strategy and a roadmap to finding the right talent, at the right time for the right amount of money — you will have played a pivotal role in helping shape the future workforce of your organization at its best.

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