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According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and healthcare staffing consultancy Mercer, the U.S. will need 2.3 million new healthcare workers by 2025. Of these, home health aides will be the most in demand—with more than 400,000 people needed. But the lower salary of this role compared to other healthcare positions makes high performing employees notoriously difficult to find.

Because of this, healthcare providers like Good Samaritan Society—the largest not-for-profit provider of senior care and services in America—need to embrace technology to become strategy-driven in how they attract and retain their employees.

Identifying the Road Blocks

In the not-so-distant past, Good Samaritan—which employs around 20,000 people across the U.S.—relied on an outdated applicant tracking system that did little to help them meet candidate goals. “It was all very cumbersome—it still involved printing reams and reams of paper every day," explains Jan Ritter, vice president of workforce systems at Good Samaritan. “We knew right away that we needed to focus on the automation piece."

Working for IBM as her first job out of college, Ritter experienced firsthand the power of technology. At Good Samaritan, however, much of the recruiting method was 'post and pray'—posting a job and praying the right candidate would apply. While this technique resulted in occasional wins, Ritter knew it wasn't a long-term solution given the competitive environment for quality healthcare professionals.

She recognized right away that Good Samaritan's HR team was ready to make a change—they just needed the tools and support to make it happen. Working with Cornerstone's consulting services team, Ritter and her colleagues were able to identify their essential need: spending less time getting bogged down in broken policies and procedures and more time getting the right candidates in the door.

Aligning Policy With Strategy

Change began with the implementation of an internal survey to determine how HR was aligned with Good Samaritan's business goals. Were their policies and procedures really supporting a greater business strategy?

The survey went out to a broad base of managers and leaders and, as expected, the results weren't great. Rather than actively working towards larger goals, the HR team had been in reaction mode—working to keep up with the growing business—and it showed.

“We had a long way to go to match where the business wanted and needed us to be," Ritter says. But she was far from discouraged. The survey did its job identifying gaps, and now she had a chance to fill them.

Getting Internal Buy-in for New Technology

The first step in gap-filling was to implement Cornerstone's applicant tracking and onboarding system. By tracking every piece of work that came through the system, Ritter would be able to cut down on administrative tasks that weren't aligned with overall business goals.

However, one major hurdle had to be crossed first: getting internal buy-in for the technology. To do this, Ritter, along with Cornerstone consultants, targeted early adopters in different regions and asked for their input on building the system. Interviews with these adopters were used as social proof to help get other employees on board. And little by little they rolled out the tracking system to the rest of the organization.

So far, the system has had a positive effect on Good Samaritan's applicant numbers. “All of the things we've been able to leverage with the system have really helped in terms of applicants and applicant flow," Ritter says.

Playing the Long Game

While Good Samaritan is now able to find the workers they need, their next challenge is keeping them. A big part of their retention strategy involves shifting the culture to a pay-for-performance environment. “For 95 years, we've existed as an employee is an employee is an employee and everybody's equal…and the truth is that performance differentiates people," Ritter says.

Last year, Good Samaritan implemented a performance management module formally enabling employees—many of whom provide home-and community-based services—to have discussions with their mangers, undergo reviews and set career goals. With the help of the module, Ritter says she hopes to see increased management accountability and stronger leaders who can deliver outcomes.

Reflecting on the Process

Reflecting on Good Samaritan's shift from ineffective internal systems to automated technology streamlined with business strategy, Ritter emphasizes the importance of factoring all possible data points as a way to continue to drive success.

“Listen to the candidates who didn't get hired, the ones that did, the managers who are successful at filling jobs and the managers who are struggling to fill jobs. Listen to all those data points because what we learned in the survey process is that every voice will tell you a unique story that you need to address—particularly when you are seeing patterns and themes," she advises. "If you are not listening, you could deliver something that has no real impact on the business."

Photo: Unsplash