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How to recruit and retain the best staff for your practice: five top tips

As healthcare practices continue to face daily challenges, they’re relying on the strength and connection of their teams as never before. Particularly in the ‘interesting times’ we’re all living through – how do you recruit and retain talented staff for your team? What sort of tools and supports can help you strengthen your team?  

1. Create a great place to work 

It may not surprise you that recent international research has identified one of the most important factors in attracting and retaining great healthcare staff is whether the workplace is good to work in.

Probably no surprise. And we know it’s not that easy. But it’s worth repeating that while there is an art to recruiting well, it’s not enough just to find and attract great people. Recruitment needs to be built on solid practice fundamentals. Staff need to be able to stay and thrive once they get there.

So the good news is that the time and resource you’ve invested in supporting existing staff, documenting your processes, and improving team communications is paying off for your recruitment as well.

2. Finding the perfect fit – be clear about what’s important for your practice

Before you go down the ‘just get someone in quickly’ path - it’s worth taking a step back. Talk to your team. Get their views on how the role works with the rest of the team and whether anything could be changed. PracticeHub’s range of Position descriptions are a good place to start or to compare with your existing Position Descriptions.

Also consider what skills and qualities are necessary to succeed in your workplace. While it’s important to have someone who works well with the rest of your team, having a diversity of perspectives and experiences generally makes for a stronger team. Experienced recruiters warn against being too rigid in your requirements. Check that you’re being realistic in your expectations, particularly in a tight market or if you’re struggling to fill a role. Beyond the essential qualifications think about how much experience is necessary – or can you train for it?

Of course, make sure you understand your legal obligations and how to avoid the risks of discrimination. For more information see our article Best practice HR management: creating a successful team and meeting compliance obligations.

3. Think through the recruitment process

Great recruits are likely to have options. They will be trying to gauge the practice and looking for a place where they can succeed. What does your recruitment process tell them about your practice? How you communicate, whether you seem organised, efficient, reasonable - or not - will all leave a strong impression.

This is another reason to pause before advertising a role. As far as you can, make sure everyone who needs to be involved in the recruitment is available and knows what they need to do and when. We know crises can happen at the last moment, but do what you can to avoid issues like rescheduling, long delays, calling applicants back multiple times.

Having said that – try to resist the temptation to ‘talk up’ the practice or the role. Assume recruits will ask around, check review sites. They are likely to see through enthusiastic recruitment advertising. If not, they’ll certainly find out when they start. Be realistic about the challenges and that way they'll know what they’re agreeing to.

4. Set new starters up for success

Think about your onboarding processes and how these can work to support new starters and help them succeed.

Make sure new starters are given the big picture so they know who does what and where to go for help. Is someone in the team able to be a go-to answer all the ‘this is probably a silly question’ questions?

This is where you can lean on resources like PracticeHub and the experiences of the PracticeHub community. We’ve been delighted to hear from practices who have told us how they’ve been able to streamline and simplify the process of bringing new staff into the practice.

Bonus tip! This is a good opportunity to check all your policies are up to date and refresh other staff if necessary.

5. Developing individuals

The reasons people stay in, and leave, jobs are as many and varied as individuals.

When it comes to career development, one size often doesn’t fit all. Some staff will be keen to develop new skills and take on new roles, others are looking for something that they can balance with other responsibilities or interests.

The key is usually simply to ask what’s important to them. The more you understand what’s important to individual members of your team, the more likely you will be able to offer relevant and appropriate opportunities, and the more likely staff are to be satisfied in their role.

Never try to sell additional responsibilities as development opportunities unless they are.

On a related note – performance issues that are left unmanaged are likely to lead to higher turnover, and difficulties attracting new staff. If there are any issues, make sure you are on top of these and managing them appropriately.

Build up your team

As a manager it is easy to contemplate recruitment with a sinking feeling. Even if it’s for great reasons – your practice is growing or staff are moving to great opportunities, the recruitment process can feel difficult and time-consuming. But with the right resources, bringing someone new can be a chance to bring fresh energy and perspectives to help strengthen your team.

Discover how PracticeHub helps streamline the training and onboarding of your staff. Book a demo or call 1300 96 86 36.

Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant and PracticeHub are not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2021.