There are times when I think back to my days in the bullpen of a staffing agency, and feel as though it was similar to an episode of the 90s TV game show, Supermarket Sweep. Most notably, the “Big Sweep”. If you are too young to know what I’m talking about, or if you just want to relive the gloriousness that was this show, here is a clip…you’re welcome (skip to 2:07).
Whenever a call for a new staffing order came in, it became a mad dash to try and “fill our carts” with as many candidates as possible, taking very little time to evaluate the healthcare workers’ overall performance, availability or profit margin. While, in the end, we contacted and placed quite a number of candidates, it seemed as though the time we spent trying to schedule them was never recovered. As soon as the next order came in, we’d start the mad dash all over again.
In this competitive world of staffing, it’s known that time is NOT on your side. But why is that? And can’t we flip the switch? In his recent blog post, Scott Wintrip talked about the concept of speed vs. haste, where making ill-prepared and unplanned (or poorly planned) decisions can result in wasted time and mistakes. While these mistakes can sometimes easily be mitigated, the damage inflicted can affect your relationships with your partners and clients. In the healthcare staffing industry, these errors can even introduce significant risk to your provider or their patients.
So, how can we achieve speed AND accuracy in staffing hiring and placement? Well, there’s no magic wand here; I think it takes a combination of several actions made by ALL stakeholders involved in contingent workforce management.
Look Beyond Skillset
Just like during the “Big Sweep”, don’t just throw anything in your cart. When making a decision to hire an individual, we all too often focus on the meat of the resume (no pun intended) and ignore or downplay who the person is as an individual. Of course you want to select someone who is most skilled to perform the job, but what if their value is overshadowed by their character?
Cejka Search, a company dedicated to physician recruiting and placement, recently cited cultural fit as being one of the key measures of job satisfaction and retention among physicians and their clients. This includes not just personality, but established standards for communication, accountability, and job duties. A highly-skilled, but culturally-misaligned individual can cost you more (in time, money, and heartburn medication) than one who is less proficient (on paper), but is highly-motivated to learn, grow and collaborate.
Turkeys have a high price tag, but how many can you place in your cart before you’re unable to move forward? Come up with a plan on how to “stock up” on resources that not only provide value, but also aren’t weighing you down.
Devise a Staffing Strategy
Which teams do you think win during the “Big Sweep”? The ones who run around the store simply grabbing whatever they can? Or the team that strategically maps out their shopping plan of attack? I think you can guess…
Most often, the “need for speed” with staffing job requests is because of poor forecasting and schedule planning.
As an agency, partner with your clients to help identify staffing trends and provide assistance in helping forecast shortages. As a client, be willing to allow your vendor partners to help provide guidance and coaching. Taking the time to evaluate historical data, as well as future impacts (be it through regulatory or policy changes, economic forecasts, etc.) will help better plan for staffing fluctuations; thereby preventing unnecessary cancellations, last-minute scrambling, and worker satisfaction.
In addition, continually assess staffing partnerships to spot staffing inefficiencies or failures both within the agency, as well as with client staffing management.
For field employees, establish an operational expectation of maintaining accurate availability and credentials. This will reduce the amount of calls made to unavailable or uninterested candidates, as well as prevent any delays when trying to place for work. Having reliable, committed and professional associates will help significantly reduce any last minute staffing replacements.
Invest in the Right Tools
A cart that’s weighed down with not-so-valuable items, or has a wobbly wheel will cause the team stress and unnecessary delay.
Workforce management today is much too comprehensive to be supported through a simple calendar, Excel spreadsheet or even outdated staffing technology. In order to provide the level of service and value needed for your agency, your clients, and your field staff, an investment in a software solution is paramount.
There are a multitude of different technology solutions out there for staffing agencies and clients, alike. However, look beyond the “flash of the app” and seek a software solution that will provide you with the toolset needed in order to make efficient and educated staffing decisions.
Key features of a successful solution should include:
- Comprehensive field employee profile & credential management
- Ability to track, identify and evaluate both hard and soft skills and experience
- Sophisticated schedule management, including availability, schedule visibility and forecasting for agency, client and employee
- Placement submission and tracking (Who, What, When)
- Portability of solution (through web portals and mobile-friendly accessibility)
- Ability to leverage internal features and integrate with external solutions to support your sourcing, recruiting, sales and CRM needs
Through this combination of established, repeatable hiring principles and practices, collaboration and partnership between stakeholders and leveraging of the right tools, the chaos – though never fully-eliminated (we like the rush, don’t we?) – can at least be minimized to a level that will create a more sustainable, satisfactory, and successful workforce management relationship.
Just like those contestants on Supermarket Sweep, a sound, strategic approach will provide greater probability for winning the game.
What workforce management struggles are you experiencing in your organization? What steps are you taking to become a stealth staffing team? We’d love to hear your thoughts and share your experiences!
Amy Yackowski is the Director of Healthcare Best Practices for erecruit, Enterprise Staffing Software & VMS. She is an avid 90s game show watcher and seeker of new ways to improve the contingent workforce management experience for staffing agencies and their clients. Amy is responsible for helping erecruit healthcare customers develop their framework, analyze their business processes and optimize their use, effectiveness and efficiency of the erecruit solutions to boost their profitability. Join her in conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn and firstname.lastname@example.org.