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A New Day Dawns

January 29, 2010
by Tim Tolan
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The job market is changing dramatically and companies are upgrading their talent pools. Is your organization prepared?

It's 2010 and a new day has dawned in the healthcare IT job market. You can feel the difference between where we are today and where we have been for the last year or so. It's been a strange time for some, and a stressful one for others, as we've all absorbed a steady diet of negative news regarding the job market. But somehow, it feels much better now. The phones are ringing again. Clients and candidates alike seem to have the same cautious enthusiasm as they look ahead to the New Year.

As we embrace 2010, we also are seeing a major shift in the employment marketplace in the health IT space. Companies are beginning to build bench strength and upgrade their talent pools as we all prepare for a hiring frenzy in our space that I suspect will rival or exceed the demand for talent that we experienced in the dot-com boom of the late '90s. While it's exciting to stop and think about what is forecast to happen in our marketplace, it's also important to begin to formulate strategies to attract and retain the talent we will need for the opportunities ahead.

I strongly suggest that you examine your human capital needs very carefully. With increased demand for human capital, we all have greater execution risks. The methods we used for hiring and retaining talent must change. Here are a few ideas you may want to consider and implement in your own environment:

Talent Assessment: Do you have all “A” and “B” players on your team? If the answer is yes, that's good. If you still have “C” players, it's probably time to give them a chance to step up their game or find a new employer. The demands of this market will be too great, and you only want top tier talent on your team. Place them on a 60 to 90 day improvement plan and give them your support and enough run-way to succeed. Be honest with yourself as to their capabilities to get the job done, and check your emotions at the door.

Talent Acquisition: With a shortage of qualified candidates in the marketplace, the competition for top-shelf talent will be fierce. How do you sell the value in your organization over other options top candidates will have? What is your competitive advantage when it comes to giving future employees a true career path? Why would someone want to work for you and your organization? Develop a clear message as to what you have to offer and be ready to articulate it to candidates. How do you sell the culture you are building, and why is that important to a new recruit? Everyone in the hiring process needs to be on the same page when it comes to talent acquisition.

On-Boarding: The day the employee walks in the door, an impression is made forever. How do you set the right expectation and quickly get new employees productive? How do you welcome them and embrace them as new members of your team? Do you have their laptop, voicemail, and e-mail set up, and benefit and other key information available when they walk through the front door? Do you have a mentoring program in place to allow experienced employees to transfer skills and domain knowledge about your organization on day one? Remember - you get one chance to make a first impression. Make it count!

Retention: The demand for HIT talent is going to be extremely strong for the next five years and beyond. What are you doing to make sure your employees are happy and not seeking greener pastures? Do you have a formal retention strategy to retain your “A” players? Remember, employees always create their value - either internally or externally. If you don't recognize their value, show your continued appreciation and have a formal retention plan in place, you may have a bigger problem - attracting and retaining human capital during an explosive high growth job market.

Tim Tolan is senior partner at Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT Practice. Tolan can be reached at, or at 843-579-3077, x 301.

His blog can be found at /contributors/tim-tolan.

Healthcare Informatics 2010 February;27(2):59