Article by David Schmiege
Originally published APRIL/MAY 2014- VEIN THERAPY NEWS
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a two-part series on “Strategies for Staffing Success.” This first part discussed the importance of hiring in a small vein practice, trends in recruiting and hiring, selection methods and reference checks.
Attracting, selecting and retaining the best employees are among the most critical predictors of success in any business. In a medical practice, failing to fill vacant positions with the right people affects staff, patients and the bottom line. Practice managers have a tremendous responsibility to recruit, hire, train and mentor staff who will be effective in their positions on a long-term basis. With a typical vein practice employing 4-7 employees, turnover must be kept to a minimum as staff need to be cross- trained to handle multiple tasks.
Despite corporate downsizing and layoffs, finding highly qualified staff that share your work ethic and practice culture has become more difficult. Changing demographics, an erratic economy and diminished employee work values have brought new challenges to the recruitment game.
More than ever, considerations such as quality of life, commute time and self-fulfillment figure into an applicant’s decision as to whether to accept a position, along with the opportunity to contribute their expertise, participate in decision making, advance professionally and share in an organization’s financial success. At the same time, employers are seeking employees with greater skills and more diverse expertise than just a few years ago. Qualified job applicants are scarce and many medical practices find themselves struggling with the temptation to hire a warm body today and ignore the needs of their practice looking forward.
As a result of these trends, recruiting today is not what it was 10 years ago. Simply relying on classified ads or word-of-mouth referrals doesn’t necessarily net the best applicants as it may have in the past. Today, truly effective recruiting is much more strategic and targeted. That, coupled with the fact that bad hiring decisions can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 when an employee doesn’t work out, makes it critical for practice managers to implement new and innovative recruiting strategies.
Regardless of which recruitment method you use, keep track of the recruitment sources used in hiring so that you can identify the best sources for each job type in your practice. Cut back on recruiting efforts that are not effective and spend time and money on the ones that produce results. Don’t forget to use your professional contacts, networking sources and current staff as “mini” recruiters.
Scan appealing recruitment postings from successful practices to get ideas on attracting the best candidates and learn what kinds of salary and benefits competitors are offering. Notice that effective recruitment messages usually include information about how the medical practice provides a good place to work. Not only do they advertise competitive benefits and pay, but also an atmosphere of excellence with growth opportunities.
Remember, a recruitment message should encourage the qualified applicant to take action. One of the best methods is to include a fax number or e-mail address and ask candidates to contact the practice for more information. Other response methods include:
- Ask applicants to send a resume and cover letter;
- Ask applicants to call for an interview appointment; or
- Encourage applicants to drop by the practice on certain days, at specified times. Here are some suggestions for creative recruiting
- Online advertising;
- Hold an open house. Advertise the types of jobs available and encourage people to visit the practice;
- Contact outplacement firms, give them a list of your open positions and ask them to refer qualified applicants;
- Design tailor-made recruitment brochures;
- Start an employee referral program by scheduling an employee pizza incentive party or other gathering and soliciting staff referrals for open positions;
The first step in developing an effective recruiting program is to determine your staffing needs and update relevant job descriptions. The basic aim of selection is to provide consistency in hiring practices. Employee selection methods include interviews, written tests and reference checks, which can be used alone or in combination, with the latter being the best approach.
At a minimum, you should interview applicants and conduct reference checks after narrowing down the candidates. Applicant selection requires a thorough analysis of both the person and the job. It necessitates making value judgments by appraising job- related qualities in candidates to determine who will be the most productive employees.
The selection process begins with reviewing completed application forms to identify individuals who meet the minimum qualifications for the position. Most medical practices choose to interview only the most highly qualified applicants. Less qualified applicants should be notified of this decision, preferably in writing.
It is strongly recommended to use a standardized application form, even if the applicant submits a resume. A formal application form provides information about candidates that doesn’t appear on a resume.
In addition, the application contains employment-at-will information and seeks the applicant’s permission to check references. You cannot rely on the accuracy of a resume. In fact, some experts say that approximately 35 to 40 percent of resumes are inflated and contain lies. That’s why it’s critical to conduct a reference check on those individuals to whom you intend to offer a job.
Regardless of the application procedure, every resume and application form should be thoroughly reviewed, which will save time during the interview process. In screening resumes and applications:
- Look for breaks in employment;
- Ask what the applicant did between jobs;
- Verify that the applicant has the necessary work experience;
- Check the applicant’s education to determine if he or she has completed the required course of study; and
- Review the overall appearance of the completed application and resume for spelling, accuracy, neatness, etc.
Reference checks involve verifying information provided by the applicant and obtaining additional information about previous job performance. This information is used in reviewing and evaluating a candidate’s background.
Reference checks are especially important because, under certain circumstances, there may be legal ramifications for an employer who does not exercise reasonable care in employee selection if an employee later harms another in the course of employment.
Inform serious candidates up front that it is your group’s policy not to hire without receiving references from at least two of their most recent employers. Put the responsibility on them to bring you reference letters or arrange for a telephone interview. Candidates may state that they do not want their current employer to know about their job hunting.
Before checking references, obtain a written release from the applicant authorizing the practice to contact his or her prior employers.
If such a statement appears on the application form and the candidate signs the application, the employer has already received such permission. Don’t offer an applicant a position pending a last-minute reference check. If the reference turns out to be unfavorable, a no-hire decision will appear to be made because of the reference. VTN
EDITOR’S NOTE: In the next issue, we will conclude this two- part series on “Strategies for Staffing Success” with a discussion of interviewing, including sample questions; a recruitment and hiring checklist; and teambuilding strategies.
David Schmiege is the president and CEO of Vein Specialists of America Ltd.