From the Desktop of Greta Sherman, SVP, Healthcare Strategy

February 15

What recruiter has not come to the office the morning after a previous day of meetings or a job fair only to feel they first must dig out from an avalanche of cyber and traditional paperwork? Hiring Managers' e-mails abound, voicemail is full and tedious tasks such as following up on a reference check or a recently hired employee's question about orientation await, along with what appears to be a number of "hot, hot" candidates.

I wish I could say I believe the recruiter would have the ability to go directly to the queue of "hot, hot" candidates and start doing her job, but I know that is almost never the situation. The Hiring Manager is a constant source of concern because she is part of the organization; miss a return call and you may turn her into a stream of irritation and complaints. Miss a good candidate's application and odds are you won't ever have to deal with him again. Recruiters, to the determent of their professional performance, often spend an inordinate amount of time simply trying to keep the Hiring Manager happy as opposed to maintaining a balanced and professional working relationship. Add that to the never ending list of administrative duties and you have recruiters who are in many ways paralyzed.

Time is money when it comes to healthcare delivery and the ability to staff and retain the best talent is a large part of the financial success of any organization. This will be even more important when Healthcare Reform is rolled out completely.

Last year in 2009 we saw days-to-fill for registered nurses increase slightly from 55 days to 57 days. This surprisingly came as our nation's healthcare delivery systems enjoyed the lowest vacancy rate in decades. One of the few explanations is that it doesn't matter how many open requisitions a recruiter has, it is going to take about the same amount of time because the system works like it did 30 years ago with the exception that people are applying on-line. In other words, the system is broken.

There are six components to the recruiting time funnel and every one of them represents an opportunity to reduce your days-to-fill, save money and improve the recruiting experience for the candidates which in turn builds a stronger platform for recruitment. The six include:

  • The requisition process
  • Job advertising and database search
  • Candidate application process
  • Selecting and interviewing
  • Vetting finalists and making an offer
  • Signing the candidate and bringing them on-board

It may not seem overly important to reduce days-to-fill, but let me remind you that if you hire 350 RNs annually and can reduce the days-to-fill by just seven days (from 57 to 50) you can save, on average $767,536 annually. This is based on assuming each RN will work 40 hours a week, or 2080 hours a year, have an average of 26% in benefits and the difference between their compensation is the national average for a staff employee as opposed to the national average of covering patient care hours with agency, travelers, PRN or overtime. Think what you could do if you really got your act together and dropped those days to 40 vs. 57 (hint: $1,864,016).

The Hiring Manager is a vital cog in the process of recruiting the best fit for your organization. If they sit on screened resumes, or they want to screen all 100 that came in for the Unit Secretary position, you are bleeding time. If they can't interview a "hot" candidate when they present, then you are losing control of the recruitment process and the candidate. Good candidates don't wait any more and now that over 50% of our work force are Generation Y employees, the need for speed is much greater.

To be truly successful you must have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the hiring managers, and you must turn them into a true partner in the goals and successes of recruitment. In other words, they must live by the SOPs or it turns into a no win situation where a recruiter can never really fill expectations.

One of the most important elements to a happy hiring manager is synching what goes on in their head with something close to reality. A hiring manager gets a resignation and in their mind the position is open, posted and the recruiter is magically aware and recruiting for this very special opening. We all know the difference between the manager's idea of ASAP and the recruiters reality of "one more on top of a serious pile of openings that I'll get to as soon as possible." The hiring managers also forget that just because they have put the requisition into the process there is position control and approvals that eat time long before a recruiter can really start the process of finding a perfect-fit candidate.

While the hiring manager is vital to the success of recruitment, the recruiter still owns the process and she or he must be given the tools to really do the job and that includes the ability to focus. Because duties other than actually recruiting diffuse a recruiters attention, administrative tasks, the safety committee and United Way must not be the birthright of a recruiter, but rather could become the purview of employees not charged with something as important, and cost sensitive, as recruitment.

If given a clear desk, recruiters are able to focus on managing database searches of candidates who fit the profile for the new requisition, they can work the internet and find new and fabulous passive candidates, they can respond in a timely manner to those on-line applications and they can screen and interview with efficiency. Candidates would be vetted, hiring managers would be happy and offers made not to candidates who hung around the broken process, but who really fit the system's culture.

It's all about time and unless you have a system that works, with recruiters who have the tools to be successful, then time is not on your side because every day a position stays open it's costing money. Look at every step, make sure the recruiters are empowered to do the job and that you are not losing time with every component of the recruitment funnel. Then add up the savings and ask for a raise.

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