Featured Articles: Workforce

The Key to Recruitment is What You Learn About Retention

Monday, August 20, 2018   (0 Comments)
Share |


 Scribe-X logo

Warren Johnson, MN, RN (ret.), 

CEO of Scribe-X Northwest


ScribeX is a Premium Sponsor of the Wine Tasting and Dinner Event, and the exclusive sponsor of the two-day Workforce Optimization Educational Track for the 2018 Fall Primary Care Conference. 



It’s hard to find good people. The bedrock of successful recruiting is a good strategy. Using a few simple techniques, a thoughtful and passionate recruiting team can be immensely more successful if they execute the engagement process in a timely manner and understand what makes your organization a compelling place to work.


First, you need to know the answers to these questions:

  1. Why has your staff left over the last three years?
  2. What are the reasons your current staff stay?
  3. Why did your employees choose your organization to begin with?

Use this information to refine your message to prospective employees. Once you learn what attracts people and sustains their loyalty, you have the tools to retain your current staff.


Retention relies on:

  • Recognition
  • Culture
  • Mission, Vision and Values
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Career Path
  • Education support
  • Leadership and Teamwork
  • Communication

Over the last 20 years, I have personally hired more than 3000 employees and managed the recruitment and retention for organizations needing to maintain a supply of up to 5000 nurses. I am often amazed at how infrequently basic retention principles are practiced. This article will focus on the preparation and initial response to a job inquiry, and begins with a simple case study.



A colleague asked me to consult with her hospital system. Their job was to centralize the staffing for seven hospitals and they had retained consultants to address dismal performance.


The primary Key Performance Indicator (KPI) driving this effort was the time from initial contact to starting work on the nursing unit. We called this the Time to Hire and Work (TTHW). When I came on-board, this took 88 days.  Additionally, their fill rate was 10% for contingent labor requests and approximately a 10% conversion rate for qualified candidates that were hired. For a growing organization that needed to hire 500+ nurses a year and maintain a qualified pool of 5000+ nurses, 88 days was too long.


When I investigated, I discovered that many of the recruiters would not take calls directly. They let calls go to voicemail and would pick them up at the end of the day, or even at the end of the week. Fixing this simple delay to make contact dramatically improved their TTHW.


The following simple steps have been proven effective over the past 20 years of medical staffing.



“Success is when preparation meets opportunity”– a cliché, but true. As an employer, be clear about what the most compelling aspect of working for you is. Do your research and gather answers from your staff: Why did they choose your organization? What other organizations did they talk with? What kind of culture, compensation and benefits are they seeking? Ask them how timely the communication was leading up to their hire, what was the quality, and by what route (email, phone, etc.). Did the recruiter sound passionate and excited about the organization? If there were multiple calls, did the recruiter reference previous communications? How was their follow-through?


Action: Prepare a comprehensive list of all the reasons a candidate would want to work with your team, including case studies for each key element.


Once you have prepared your compelling messages, it is time to connect.



How you say something is often more important than what you say. Do your people have that special ability to instantly connect with others? Is your recruiter passionate, sincere, conversational and someone your candidates would want to hang out with? They need to be…or they need to be coached.


Action: Get feedback on how your recruiter is doing, how they compare to others and coach them on basic principles of engaging others by getting to the problems the candidate needs solved.



Response time is one of the single biggest determinants of success. Measure your organization’s response time, and establish a goal. Similarly, measure contact time, or the time spent on each call. The longer a candidate and your recruiter talk, the better their relationship, and the more likely the candidate will be to sign on. As these times improve, so will your conversion rate (the percent of qualified candidates hired).


Action: Take calls directly and respond at all transitions within minutes, versus hours or days.



You are in competition for the talent. It is important to know all the major organizations that are competing for your candidates. If you are working with a recruiting and staffing firm, ask them what other organizations the candidates are considering. Ask for recommendations on how to get the candidates you want.  

Make a list and work on articulating the advantages you hold over the competition. Don’t be afraid to educate the candidate on what your competition struggles with. Cite a case study showing why your organization has been chosen over another.


Action: Know your competition and compete cost effectively. Make a comparative list of what you and your competition offer.



Many of the actions outlined above were implemented with my client and they reduced their TTHW to less than 30 days, took nearly all calls immediately, and increased their fill rate to 90%. None of the interventions were complicated or expensive. All it took was a few simple steps, practiced consistently over time.




Warren Johnson 


Warren Johnson, RN, founded STAT Medical, the largest medical staffing company in the Pacific Northwest with 700 employees, and co-founded ShiftWise, the largest Vendor Management System with 1000 hospital customers. He has served as Director of Nursing Resources, Providence Health and Services and managed all clinical contingent labor, the staffing office for seven hospitals and oversaw recruiting and retention of 5000 nurses.  He serves as CEO of Scribe-X, a medical scribe services company serving the western region. 








NWRPCA welcomes and regularly publishes white papers and articles submitted by members, partners and associates with subject matter expertise. The appearance of any guest publication in our Health Center News database represents the views of the author and does not constitute endorsement by NWRPCA of the stated opinions or perspectives, nor does it suggest endorsement of the contributor's products or services.

Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal