News Briefs Archive

Why You May Be Hiring the Wrong People

Nov. 20, 2019

The factors you base hiring decisions on may be faulty, according to recommendations by Elena Butler and Shreya Kangovi in Harvard Business Review.

“The shift towards value-based payment has made it clear that our system needs to do a better job generating outcomes that matter to patients — a positive health-care experience, improved health, and good quality of life. But healthcare’s current hiring practices can inhibit efforts to achieve this goal,” Butler and Kangovi write, noting prejudices about race, class and educational attainment.

The authors contend that health-care employees need more than scientific knowledge; they need to be “empathetic team players.” Part of the problem, they explain, is training on teamwork and cultural sensitivity only happen after the employee is hired, rather than being skills a potential new hire is assessed for before being offered the job.

Here are four steps Butler and Kangovi say health-care organizations can take to build a diverse workforce that produces valuable outcomes:

Match Hiring to the Problems You Need to Solve
The first step is to understand what the workforce needs to do to achieve desired outcomes. What helps people become and stay healthy — especially those who are at the greatest risk for poor health outcomes? Understand the problems you are trying to solve and hire the workers who can solve them, leaving aside personal and industry biases.

Know Where to Look
Traditional provider organizations typically advertise job opportunities on their — often cumbersome — employment web sites, or other job-marketing sites. The problem with this approach is that it can perpetuate systematic class-based biases by creating barriers to entry for people with limited digital access or savvy, constraining applicant pools. For example, when Enterprise, the largest car rental company in the world, realized they needed to hire team players, it looked for them on actual teams, recruiting newly graduated student athletes.

The alternative to “one size fits all” recruitment is to target efforts to the traits an organization is seeking.

Use the Right Assessment Tools
After eliminating applicants who don’t have the legally required credentials, providers should consider multi-modal tests that assess personality traits or aptitudes that predict job performance, keeping in mind the legal, ethical and business implications of psychometric testing in hiring.

Consider Human Resources a Leadership Function
The most effective hiring happens when leaders are deeply involved with all aspects of the process because they have a unique sense of the organization’s needs and the culture they aspire to.

“In the early days of Amazon, Jeff Bezos interviewed every candidate himself. In our organization, the chief operating officer still sits in on most community health-worker job interviews,” the authors write. “This approach is resource-intensive. But it is the best way, we’ve found, to create the team we need to deliver the outcomes patients seek. It has the added benefit of dramatically improving retention and organizational stability, which benefits staff, patients, and the organization at large.”

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