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As Michael said to me this week our economic future is dependent upon our creating a strategy that effectively deals with the supply challenge. 100% correct. With this in mind lets look at this challenge a different way. Many companies are continually facing a requirement to find the right 'talent' and although that phrase 'talent' isn't often applied directly to our industry, its most apt, as that is what we need RN talent.
If we examine other companies within other arenas, the 'challenge' with obtaining this talent is a temporary condition that will at some point finish, however ours is a never ending mission to attract and retain 'talent' that as far as I can see literally has no foreseeable end! If you have the right type of candidate, you will always have the right kind of vacancy available.
We all realise that this industry is cyclical, good times and bad and regardless of where in the world hospitals and healthcare facilities have faced shortages, the most visible of which has been a shortage of nurses. We all know it's only going to get worse the further we enter into the baby boom retirement surge that will continue to tax the healthcare with a surge of elderly patients armed with disposable incomes and high expectations - so it's time to get ahead of the game and think forward, not just now. I think for success to come your way there in Australia, recruitment needs to become part of the permanent mindset, not just when we need a RN or two.
I have taken onboard some of the suggestions that you and I have had and added a few more. Some are aimed at recruitment and some towards improving retention, once we already have the commodity onboard with us.
Employee referral program. Considered always the most effective of all the recruitment weapons in your arsenal. I know we recently revamped our program, but how well did we really push the program, how well did we advertise, how prominent were the posters? Lets seriously revisit and attempt to re-energize it as a true marketing program. Perhaps we should up the ante and consider a raffle or prize for the candidate who submits the most referrals over a fixed period, perhaps a trip abroad to an exotic location. It is important to note, for a referral program to work, it has to be talked up at every opportunity.
Referral program ideas 'Gimme 5' or 'Hi 5' RNs often come to a zero conclusion when asked the question, "Do you know anyone that you could refer?" In these cases, the best approach is to structure your request. Ask our RNs to list "the five nurses who have impressed you the most in these specific categories (the best nurse you ever worked with, the most innovative, the best team player, the best manager, the best under pressure, the best with technology, etc.). Then ask them to call these five individuals and try to convince them that it would be great to work with you again. Use the five for direct hiring or, if they're not interested, for referrals.
Employee direct referrals. I know I have said it before, but I am not sure how we did it, or even if we did it at all, but let's go to our most productive, loyal and tenured AINs and RNs individually (DON'T DO A STANDARD LETTER OR MAILSHOT) , make a personal appeal or call to them and ask them to increase their referrals (give them a target of five a month). Ask them specifically to refer their mentees, friends, retirees, and former colleagues anybody who they think that they could attract to us. Make it a direct financial reward.
Reference referrals. We have hundreds, upon hundreds of applications, with referrals. Lets contact all of them with the simple question, "Whom else do you know who is also good?" offer the referral program to these individuals - find something that will make them want to complete any additional hours through us or refer lower graded colleagues to work through us.
Customer Referrals. Ask patients, strategic partners, vendors, consultants, and suppliers to be referral sources (when there's no conflict of interest).
Other agencies referrals. Identify those agencies who may hire the same type of staff as you, but don't use them in the same way for those lists to be purchased or used.
Professional events. Next time we book to attend an event , let's make sure that we ask the organizers for a list of every attendee so that we can follow up with a call or personalized letter. Most professional events now have the barcode and pen method, we can use that for a prize draw to encourage attendees to visit our stand.
Professional Development. Let's look at sponsoring a professional development day and then hold it on our new site or a hotel etc. Offer attendees an opportunity to meet and mingle with our staff. I believe that this can be an effective tool when we don't have the branding within the area that we would ordinarily have for recruitment purposes. Included with this could be Certification courses. For jobs that require professional certifications (RNs couldn't be more certified if you tried), let us take a look at how to hold one of these events, see who the best lecturers or organizations are to provide these course and offer one out and advertise. Improves branding, market awareness and professional identity.
Social events. Craft fairs & Social events have been traditionally an excellent source for finding nurses for me. Ask our most prominent nurses for the best events they attend and recruit at them -make sure we ask a few not just the first two or three, for these to work we need to have diversity. Also check out Gay and Lesbian events, to either advertise or attend. Although not stereotyping, we all appreciate the traditional nursing demographic.
Professional , Union & Trade fairs. Top performers invariably go to conferences, while average people stay at home. You will need to check about active recruitment at these events, however nobody could stop effective passive recruitment. If you look about at some of these events you will note that most organizations will slip a recruiter into the event.
Boomerangs . But let's not use standardized letters, try personal letters, flowers, cards, telephone calls. Standardized letters look like mailshots, and mailshots end up in the bin.
College and Campus recruiting - Campus reps, nursing student reps, student union, faculty body reps. Establish who they are, ask if they are able to serve as recruiting representatives on campus. Offer sponsorship of an event, referral program benefits. Find out from them what it takes to convince a nurse to come to you. Post Grad Nurses. These are possible the best students, find out how many are local, part time work with us should be stress free and better paid than additional hours at their old work place. Offer a unique rate to these nurses, they should become our professional ambassadors. Use current AINs (Student RNs) as advice boards. Ask these students to help you identify and recruit this year's best of the crop. College professors. Sometimes there is a conflict of interest or ethical code that restricts them, but it doesn't hurt to ask college professors and graduate assistants to be referral sources. Two years out of school. There is a lot of competition for nurses graduating right out of school. Instead, try re-contacting those you wanted but couldn't get after they are two years out of school. You might find recruiting them now is a lot easier as their preferences change when they become more experienced. Almost qualified. Review candidates from previous hiring efforts and see whether they are now more qualified or if you are willing to give them a second look. Turned us down candidates. Review candidates who, in the past, rejected our job offers. Try a new approach and try to resell to them. If they say no, ask them whether you can contact them again later - DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK, 'what would have convinced them to sign with us'.
References of candidates. When checking the references of promising candidates, consider them for direct hiring. Incidentally, if you hire either the reference or the individual asking for the reference, you're much more likely to get the other one also. It's also true that if you leave a positive impression with the reference, they will "talk you up" if your candidate happens to call them to get their opinion on which job offer they should accept.
Ask during the interview. Ask the interviewee if they know of anybody they work with who may want to join also, make know the referral program. Don't just concentrate on recruiting the individual.
Why did you say yes? You can dramatically improve your "sales pitch" if you ask all candidates which specific element of your recruitment conversation had a positive impact on their decision to join our company. Also, ask which elements had no impact at all and then which elements actually had a negative impact on their decision process. Use this information to improve your marketing materials, interview processes, and offer process. The better we get at recruitment messages the better our conversion will be.
Promise them an interview. Guarantee potential recruits an interview. Consider giving them a reward (a $10 coffee card) or a free meal if they show up for an interview. Perhaps as suggested we should interview off site and have over a coffee.
Job descriptions. If we are getting limited responses to our advertising is the job descriptions, a dull job description is a common reason why. Rewrite your job descriptions to make them more like marketing pieces. Identify the WOW factors that you have and the features that excite your current employees. Put them in your job descriptions and make them compelling.
CEO calls. Have your CEO call the candidate directly and encourage them to sign on. CEO calls are incredibly effective. I honestly think we should have somebody from the US call each candidate when they have been interviewed, even if it is to leave a message to say how wonderful it was to have them interview. Make them feel special!
Free training or Study days. Offer RNs study days that you have pre-identified to be both possible to offer and interesting enough to recruit. Write in access to so many study days into their employment contract.
Offer them privileges. Some nurses are reluctant to leave other agencies because they will have to start "at the bottom". Offer these RNs first shift choices for six months and continued preferences if they stay with us. Also promise to match their incremental rises or bonus payments. If they have been that good at one agency to have accrued these privileges they will be good enough for us.
Comparison or side - by - side offer sheets at interview. Produce a single sheet that shows how your offer compares favorably with offers from competing facilities. This helps improve offer a acceptance rates.
Hire them both. Offer a program where you will hire a nurse and their best friend (colleague, spouse/ partner) at the same time. Offer an exceptional nurse an opportunity to commute together or to work together with their best friend on any available shift.
Involve existing RN database, always ask them. Ask your top performing RNs to help you "assess" a new idea or program.
Find-you-again profile. Ask your current nurses, "How would I find you again?" Ask them what healthcare and social events they attend, magazines and journals that they read, TV shows that they watch, etc. Use this information to identify the sources that are the most likely to produce results. We can use this information for advertising programs.
When a competitor is in trouble. If a healthcare facility is undergoing cut backs, staff reductions or other labor turmoil, increase your recruiting efforts at their facilities. Ask your current nurses to help you recruit away their best. Recruit outside their car park if you must! The same goes for other agencies, aggressively target their nurses, find out what brings their nurses to them, and replicate, but better! Organize an adverting van to drive around the facility or recruitment office on a pay day or time sheet day.
Check out the Nursing Agency Australia referral program. Very modern, very clever and very current.
Check out HealthStaff recruitment, their placements in Sydney are most definitely not permanent jobs, I would guess , contracted 12 months, as travel provision and hostel accommodation is noted.
Direct mail. Consider using professional association, website and nursing magazine mailing lists (sorted by local post codes) to mail out recruit pieces or email messages.
Building Your Brand & marketing awareness. Mentioned in/wrote tech article. Encourage your nurses to write articles in nursing journals. Being written about for your best practices is an excellent referring and branding tool. Speaking opportunities. Have your best nurses speak at local professional events, at regional trade fairs, and at national industry conferences. Having them discuss your best practices is an excellent recruiting tool. Win awards. If your organization wins best practice or "best place to work" awards, that alone will make recruiting much easier.
Online Sources - Social networking. Chat rooms. Have your best nurses frequent nursing-related chat rooms and list servers. Have them answer tough questions in order to build your image and brand as a great place to work. Set up multiple accounts and pseudonyms on these sites yourself, but keep on top of them. It's no good just hitting it for a couple of weeks, it takes months to increase your profile to the extent that RNs seek you out to ask you questions.
"Push" jobs to top prospects. Develop an email mail list that "pushes" announcements of hot job openings or attractive shifts to individuals that you are targeting (or that have expressed an interest in receiving position openings). These should also be sent to your existing RN base also.
Online networking sites. Consider putting short recruiting videos on YouTube, position profiles on MySpace, and recent hired profiles or vacancies on Facebook. Make the information as varied as possible, study days, professional questions, events. Again it's the management of the site that will eventually produce results.
I hope that this has helped to produce some more ideas, and hopefully you guys in the office will be able to come up with a plan that will increase the return of the recruiting efforts currently being employed.