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Balancing Tech and Human Relationships in Recruiting

person using iPad

When the American Society for Health Care Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) conference was held in Phoenix in April, Health eCareers’ Digital Marketing Specialist Matt Ashman came away with a greater understanding of technology’s current, pervasive role in healthcare recruiting.

He shares a presentation by Chrystal Fuggett, Aya Healthcare’s vice president of recruitment, and Dan Nadal, director of recruitment business processes at the travel nursing agency that underscores how to balance tech and human relationships in our business. We’ll summarize it here.

Tech Is Here to Stay

You may not love it, but you can’t leave tech because it’s inescapable, the presenters said. After all, we use a gadget 10 hours and 39 minutes on average each day, says Penn State.

The team explained that now is an unprecedented time and that the volume of unemployment is at historic highs, even as employees change jobs more often than in past generations. People switch jobs every three to four years, says Harvard Business School. This all creates a critical need for organizations to have tech-forward solutions in hiring, and speed to hire is vital in today’s market.

Candidates are impatient and 62 percent of US professionals say they lose interest in a job if they don’t hear back from the employer within two weeks after the initial interview, according to Robert Half International. It takes 81 projected days to close direct-hire registered nurses (RNs), says Liquid Compass.

We know we need technology and it’s here for sure, and some of us have misconceptions about technology such as, if we leverage technology, we will lose the human element and that means we’ll lose customers. Technology can’t help with this problem. Or there’s this one: It will solve all our problems if done correctly—and that could be a stretch.

Meet in the Middle

How about meeting somewhere in the middle and finding a productive middle ground. Let’s ask ourselves:

  • What do we want to automate?
  • What do we want to incorporate?
  • What do want to appreciate?

It’s also important to consider the three pillars of technology that enhance relationships. The first is:

  • Planning: First identify your bottlenecks, then identify the players and survey and seek feedback from them. Then you can explore potential solutions as you consider what parts of the solutions you automate, incorporate, or appreciate. Then plan how to implement those solutions. Now you can identify how potential solutions impact your brand and its perception. You’ll want to prioritize and create a roadmap with the ideal state in mind as you also plan for curveballs.
  • Execution and implementation: Remember that overplanning or perfection is the enemy of progress, so iterate and do it again and again. Always seek frequent feedback. Have an implementation team that has key stakeholders from each group. Also, look outside of healthcare staffing. What has worked in other industries? Observe and measure using data. Address all issues and bugs, especially work stoppage bugs, and consistently re-evaluate your roadmap during implementation.
  • Adoption: This pillar requires a look at external and internal factors.

With external, you may think, “We have to nail it—we don’t have the opportunity to train or give insight or reasoning behind the product.” Also, consider intuitive user experience and ensure that if you have to release something that isn’t perfect and you’re iterating, you have support.

With internal factors, expect people to want the status quo and be averse to change. To counter that, create apostles and manager buy-in. Make innovation everyone’s job. It’s OK to “overcommunicate”

the “Why” behind the change and afford visibility on its future state. Provide adequate training on new products or software, coupled with backend support after it’s live, and don’t forget accountability.

Risks of Automation

Too much of a good thing can become a problem, so we must be aware of the risks of over-automation. It could, for example, lead to a poor client or applicant experience. Automation isn’t appropriate for tasks that require a high level of cognitive ability. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) could also sacrifice your company’s flexibility by making processes too rigid.

Over-automation could lead to a loss of valuable employees and even loss of business.

On the reverse side, not enough automation, or under-automation could affect speed to market.

Without automation, processes can take days or even weeks to fully execute. Act fast or lose out on good talent.

Then there’s your reputation. When candidates receive responses, offers, and movement in a timely fashion, you build a strong brand of referrals. When they wait for two weeks, as we shared above, they move on. Weak data or data gaps are another risk of under-automation that also reduce the ability to update key players in real time. This directly impacts performance, efficiency, and the organization’s ability to make effective business decisions.

Still, the human element reigns supreme, because there’s still a lot that tech can’t do in recruitment. It can’t sell an organization, sell a job, or manage expectations. It can’t persuade, relate, empathize, assess goals, or make a career plan. It also can’t answer personalized questions or customize an experience. Nor can it collaborate or drive the mission and vision of the organization. A recruiter can do all that.

Pillars of Human Recruitment Stand Tall

Human recruitment consists of five pillars. Remember that when someone buys something now, that transaction no longer requires a salesperson. Recruiting is essentially just another market, the candidate market, where the product is the candidate. But the product is human, and our species has been around for 300,000 years. We know what we’re doing.

  • Connection: Always have human connection in your recruitment process and at the right point in the process. Never let a machine do what only a human should do. A machine cannot empathize.
  • Information control: Ask yourself honestly whether your information helps or hurts your recruitment efforts. There’s a cadence to delivering info, and humans can differentiate between fact and fiction for your candidates.
  • Personnel considerations: These involve hiring the right people for the right roles, managing the volume of your workforce as well as occasional bottlenecks—when employers fail to respond promptly—and sustaining professional development for your team.
  • Objections and fears: Put a focus on social capital, which means building rapport and trust and addressing fears and concerns. Recognize the verbal and non-verbal cues and act on them in a timely manner.
  • Pride at work and reinforcing your brand: You never want to have to sell against a bad reputation. So, remember that people care about where they work and ads draw people in, while recruitment keeps people in. Nothing can exemplify your brand better than humans.

Both Sides Are Buyers

In summary, in a perfect world—an ideal state—you want to design a recruitment process centered around genuine human interaction. Spend appropriate time and energy in the planning, implementation, and adoption phase of technology advancements. Ask yourself regularly: With this task, do we automate, incorporate, or appreciate the human element? Avoid over-automating. Avoid under-automating. Are there any of the five pillars that your team could improve or add to your recruitment model?

Finally, recruiting is the process of “selling” relationships where both sides are buyers. When it succeeds, it’s also a win-win for both, when mutually beneficial relationships evolve that drive successful businesses.

This article first appeared on Health eCareers. Reprinted with permission.

About the author

Stephanie Stephens

Stephanie is an 18-year journalist and content specialist who’s interviewed hundreds of patients, healthcare professionals, and celebrities (who talk about their health in each interview). She’s also a video and audio host, anchor, producer, and writer and she’s developing two TV/streaming series currently.

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