Management Case Study: How to Avoid Self-Destructive Employee Recruitment

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About four years ago, the employee recruitment process was a source of dissatisfaction among many managers at Princeton (N.J.) Healthcare System. Leadership within the system's human resources department felt recruitment was inconsistent and lacked high-calibre candidates. As a result, morale suffered and time-to-fill for positions increased.

The system decided to address these issues and revamp its recruitment process through a partnership with Pinstripe Healthcare, a recruitment process outsourcing firm that prides itself on a "we become you" approach to relationships with clients. The firm acts as an extension of organizations' HR departments in something called full partnership recruiting.

Marcia Telthorster, vice president of human resources for University Medical Center at Princeton in Plainsboro Township, N.J., came on board shortly after the partnership was finalized. She had heard about the system's prior recruitment problems, such as a 60 to 62 percent satisfaction rate among managing directors for the hiring process, she says. Princeton faced some other hurdles, as well. As a regional hirer, the health system faces an ample amount of competition with eight to 10 surrounding hospitals in the Central New Jersey area, as well as a portion of the Philadelphia region.

Under the full partnership recruiting program, Pinstripe adopted to Princeton's culture to better assess whether candidates would be a good fit within the organization. With two on-site recruiters, Pinstripe took charge of the applicant tracking system, coordinated all interview logistics and analyzed Princeton's hiring metrics. The recruitment process not only became more standardized for employees systemwide, but it was extended in duration, spanning from the application phase to the exit management phase.

Within four months of the partnership, Princeton and Pinstripe had filled 347 positions throughout the system. Satisfaction rates also rocketed — those 60 percent satisfaction rates among managing directors rocketed to 95 percent, according to Ms. Telthorster's most recent numbers.

The partnership improved the system's recruiting and hiring based on these numbers, but it also helped Princeton's HR team learn how to make their processes more efficient. Sometimes those lessons involved surprisingly simple strategies. For instance, University Medical Center had been looking to fill a specialized, niche role for two years. The position required an "odd combination of skill sets," according to Ms. Telthorster, and the hiring manager didn't make a decision quickly.

Finally, Ms. Telthorster and Pinstripe recruiters identified the problem. "We said, 'This house has been on the market too long and people think there is something wrong with this position," says Ms. Telthorster. To shake this public perception, they decided the position needed to be filled within six months.  

"The director really paid attention, and we hired two people for two different positions that were empty for a very long time," says Ms. Telthorster. In this case, she says the director may have been burned in the past by bad hires or poor cultural fits, and it took someone from the outside to renew his decisiveness to make a hire. "It was the recruiters who gave the director a model he could understand," says Ms. Telthorster.

Now, Pinstripe team members visit or check-in with the Princeton HR team on a monthly basis. "They phone in, if they're not physically here, for regular HR staff meetings," says Ms. Telthorster. "They keep me informed and I can tell them our opportunities and challenges. I'd say in the nearly two years I've been here, that we've really elevated this partnership arrangement to a true partnership."

Ms. Telthorster says the costs of recruiting are something to keep in perspective. The technological infrastructure Pinstripe has brought to the partnership is not something Princeton could have managed or afforded on its own, and the value that adds to a hospital or health system's recruitment efforts is worth the cost of the partnership. She said she can't imagine Princeton going back to self-recruitment.

"People don't look for jobs the way many of us looked for jobs even five years ago," says Ms. Telthorster. "Today, people Google a position and a city. We expect Princeton to come up either first, second or third in those searches. I don't know many hospitals that have the technology skills to make that happen."

More Articles on Hospitals and Employees:

4 Must-Have Traits for Hospital Employees in a Value-Based World

6 Unique Challenges of Healthcare Hiring
100 Great Places to Work in Healthcare


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