How to Hire for Cultural Fit in Healthcare

Senior Director of Marketing

One of the top workplace challenges facing the healthcare industry today is hiring for the right cultural fit. Even as providers fight over a finite pool of qualified healthcare talent, leaders have come to recognize that it’s essential to attract and retain people who can reflect and champion the values and mission of the organization.

Here are some important things human resources leaders need to know to align their talent-acquisition strategy with their company culture.

Make Culture Key

Hiring employees to care for patients in a way that represents the organization’s brand is crucial to its long-term health, says Talent Made Simple founder Christina Boudreaux, a veteran HR executive and consultant.

When your product is literally the health and well-being of customers, the outcome they receive is crucial, not only to that customer’s loyalty but to their very lives. A low cultural fit often leads to lower engagement by employees, resulting in a decrease in quality of service. Poor patient satisfaction can lead the organization to wither.

“Every workplace culture is unique, and it’s important to hire based on those who align. Failing to do so can have major implications to the business, ultimately impacting patient quality outcomes and satisfaction, as well as financial implications to the business,” Boudreaux says.

Hire for Vision

Communication is the most important path to ensuring cultural fit. One of the best ways to get to know candidates is establishing a direct interaction as early as possible in the hiring process. That means a phone call, video chat or face-to-face meeting, possibly as soon as the first formal interview.

The interviewer needs to be forthright about laying out the organization’s culture and asking the candidate if their mission and values align with the company’s. For example, Boudreaux recalls leading talent acquisition for a Catholic-based health system where every meeting started with a prayer. Being upfront gives the candidate the maximum opportunity to self-select out of consideration if there isn’t a strong cultural fit. 

It’s important to hire not just for specific healthcare skills, such as a certain type of scanning-technology certification, but for a vision that matches the organization’s. That means HR leaders have to be willing to pass over a qualified candidate who isn’t a good cultural fit. 

Start at the Top

It may be difficult for front-line managers to wait a little longer to fill a critical vacant position. That’s why healthcare executives and their HR departments have to live, breathe and talk the values their organization embodies and back that up in the hiring process, Boudreaux says.

“Identify what the culture is early on, develop the ‘employment brand’ that represents the culture, assess candidates’ behaviors during the interview process for cultural fit through a robust and methodical process and provide realistic job previews and outline expectations so that candidates can make a good decision to determine if the culture is right for them,” she says.

When HR leaders know what they’re looking for in terms of both skill set and cultural fit, they can set a path toward delivering the best patient health outcomes possible, and help the bottom line, too.

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