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Innovation in Human Capital

February 24, 2010
by Tim Tolan
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Things are going to change in all facets of hiring and retaining IT talent. Will you be ready?

Many of us don't think about innovation when it comes to human capital and talent acquisition. After all, innovation means to introduce new ideas and concepts in an effort to improve a process and ultimately create a better outcome. Given what's ahead in the war for talent in the healthcare IT marketplace, perhaps now would be a good time to integrate innovation into hiring and retaining personnel.

It may sound cliché, but things are going to change in all facets of hiring healthcare IT talent. It will be your job to locate and hire superior talent and find creative ways to prevent them from changing teams. This includes your existing staff and all new hires. When you take in to account the investment of time and money spent on human capital it's really mind-boggling to think about starting again from scratch when a valuable member of the team leaves your employment. Actually it will become much more problematic and costly in the months and years ahead as supply and demand for healthcare IT talent tilts unfavorably for employers.

It will take real innovation in hiring healthcare IT talent as we look ahead. Do an assessment of every hiring and retention practice you have in place today.

Articulating your culture - Why would someone want to work for you or your organization? What is it like to be on your team? Each member of the interview team should know the answers to both questions immediately. If a prospective candidate gets a mixed signal from members of the interview team that could spell real trouble in your recruiting efforts. Make sure everyone is on the same page when articulating the culture of your organization. Without input, candidates will formulate their own opinion on what it would be like to work for your organization. Make sure you and your team give them plenty of reasons to consider accepting your offer if you decide to make an offer.

The interview process - If you need to improve your batting average in recruiting top shelf talent, it may be time to evaluate your entire interview process. Begin your evaluation from a candidate's perspective. What is their experience like? Is there a wait time when they arrive on the day of the interview? How about a detailed agenda? Do you place them in an empty conference room with long waits between interviews? How is the “hand-off” as the candidate maneuvers from each person involved in the face-to-face interview? Who is having lunch with the candidate and why? Do you offer water or soft drinks for the 4-5 hours they will likely spend on your premises? These are simple questions - but very important. You get one chance to make a lasting impression.

Make it count!

On-boarding - Once you have made the offer and the candidate has accepted - it's time to begin the on-boarding process to integrate the new employee into your organization. Make sure the basics are in place before their first day of employment. Voice mail should already be set-up on their assigned laptop and messages should already be waiting in their inbox. Insurance enrollment and other benefit forms should be mailed days in advance of their start date so the new employee can quickly get down to business and engage in their new role. Have a detailed written on-boarding plan and get your new employees productive right away. Make them feel part of your team before the inks dries on the offer letter. It matters.

Organizations that are constantly reviewing and improving their hiring, on-boarding and retention practices will be in the best position to take advantage of the market opportunities that lie ahead. Ask your employees what they like most about the organization and where can you improve? Think of ways to become more creative and competitive when it comes to talent acquisition so you can win the HCIT talent war. Think outside the hiring box and use innovation in your hiring practices and you will lure top-shelf talent to your organization. Finally, make sure you have a retention strategy (more on that later) to keep them on your team for a very long time.

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 March;27(3):60

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