Leading Continuing and Acute Care Facilities Transform Their Hiring Process, Reduce Turnover, and Develop Employees

Hiring and retaining employees for continuing and acute care environments can prove more challenging than in other healthcare industry segments due to the unique physical and emotional demands of working with patients and their families. The key to improving employee retention and reducing the costs associated with turnover is to identify the applicants with the right skills and fit for the organization’s culture. To realize this goal, many leading continuing and acute care organizations are adopting HealthcareSource Staff AssessmentSM. By using behavioral assessments, these organizations can build a Patient-Centered WorkforceTM and ensure they’re hiring compassionate caregivers who fit the job and are more likely to stay.

Central Maine Medical Family

Central Maine Medical Family (CMMF) is an integrated healthcare delivery system comprising three hospital systems and two long-term care facilities with about 400 beds and a staff of approximately 3,700 employees. As is true for many healthcare organizations, CMMF’s vision is providing exceptional healthcare service in a safe and trustful environment. In 2015, CMMF filled 1,500 positions.

Needing a Standard Process

Though the organization had embraced behavioral-based interviewing and trained its hiring managers on this approach, Beth Bowie, CMMF’s Talent Acquisition Manager, saw problems. With CMMF continuing to grow its healthcare system, Bowie recognized the need to empower both the small human resources (HR) department—consisting of two recruiters—and 300 hiring managers to improve the overall hiring process.

As Bowie recalls, “The growth of our organization meant our HR department was outgrowing its ability to interview all applicants, so we were slowing down the hiring process. But we knew our hiring managers needed assistance interviewing for soft skills, such as collaborating and multi-tasking.” CMMF needed to enable a standard process that would ensure hiring managers handled behavioral interviews in a consistent manner while allowing the HR department to focus on other areas of the process. As Bowie further explains, CMMF’s clinical leaders and managers have honed their technical skills as they’ve progressed through their careers. However, they haven’t necessarily developed the ability to identify which candidate can work well in CMMF’s environment and perhaps even become a future leader. To that end, it was essential that the organization make it easier for its managers to determine whether or not a candidate could provide the compassionate, quality care that CMMF values.

Staff Assessment Fits the Bill

Following a site visit at another healthcare system using Staff Assessment, Bowie evaluated the HealthcareSource solution. She liked the fact that interview questions within the tool had been developed based on the accumulated experiences of healthcare organizations and input from industry experts. In addition, she appreciated that the tool not only drives managers to ask questions based on the particular position but also makes them aware of red flags to listen for. Specifically, the solution incorporates each applicant’s assessment results into a customized, structured interview guide. These guides provide follow-up behavioral interview questions that enable managers to probe on low-scoring areas. Equally important as Bowie says, “Our values — compassion, citizenship, integrity, service excellence, and commitment — align very well with the healthcare-specific competencies represented in these behavioral assessments.”

According to Bowie, getting up and running with the HealthcareSource solution was a breeze. While CMMF initially used it as a standalone solution, it is now integrated with the organization’s applicant tracking system, HealthcareSource Position Manager®.

Enhancing the Process for Applicants, Hiring Managers, and HR

Because HealthcareSource enables the behavioral assessment via the web, applicants can complete it in about 15 minutes or so. That said, it offers applicants the opportunity to truly present the story they’d like to tell about themselves, something that doesn’t always happen when managers dominate an interview. At the same time, the web-based nature means CMMF’s lean recruiting team can easily stay involved in the process while taking care of other critical tasks.

As Bowie explains, the fact that the tool enables her department and hiring managers to assess candidates more objectively is a big plus. “In a rural area, people tend to know each other so it can be challenging to be subjective when determining who is the best candidate. With Staff Assessment, we feel confident that our managers are asking questions that zero in on critical areas and are moving away from subjectivity in their assessments,” she says. In fact, hiring managers are spending more time evaluating applicants. The solution also not only asks the behavioral questions, it provides a behavioral score. With this in hand, Bowie and her team can push back when necessary, such as when a manager is pursuing a candidate with a low score. “The scoring mechanism gives my team the ability to participate in the process, and helps ensure we are putting the best person in the position and reducing the chance of turnover,” says Bowie.

Reducing Turnover, Growing Employees

Regarding turnover, Bowie underscores the higher costs and pains of losing a new employee within the first year. With that in mind, she tracks involuntary turnover on a monthly basis since it is an indicator that CMMF may have made a poor hiring decision. The organization strives to keep average first-year turnover at 22% or below. Since implementing the HealthcareSource solution, its average has dropped from 22% to 15%, and within that, nursing turnover is down from 20% to 11% and overall turnover is down from 24% to 17%, surpassing competitive benchmark data.

An ancillary benefit is the ability to pinpoint employee development focus from the get-go. When a new hire is brought onboard, Bowie’s department forwards the employee’s clearance information and behavioral development assessment to the hiring manager. The assessment serves as a guidepost for the 90-day evaluation period and annual goals. “It’s often difficult to outline goals for a new hire, but the developmental feedback makes that possible, helping us understand the soft skills that need development and how to accomplish that goal,” says Bowie.

With a low unemployment rate, the talent war is only getting tougher, making it even harder to select the best for the organization. But with Staff Assessment, CMMF is well positioned. “The cost of care is too high to bring on someone lacking the right behavioral skills. With the HealthcareSource solution, we can figure out who will fit well with our organization and the team and be successful in their own rights within CMMF,” concludes Bowie.

Messiah Lifeways

Founded in 1896, Messiah Lifeways is a continuing care retirement community, serving a combination of live-in residents and day clients totaling about 2,600 people. The organization offers life coaching, enrichment opportunities, community support services, and resident communities, and is a non-profit sponsored by the Brethren in Christ Church. Its mission statement is, “We are a ministry that responsibly enhances the lives of older adults with Christ-like love.” In 2014, Messiah Lifeways averaged 216 new hires and in 2015, it averaged about 200.

Lacking Needed Insights into Behavior

Faye Betsker, the Director of Human Resources and Corporate Compliance Official at Messiah Lifeways, oversees an HR Department of four other team members. The department’s responsibilities include centralizing recruiting and hiring, benefits, workers’ compensation, risk, compliance, team member engagement, and employee safety. As Betsker explains, Messiah Lifeways faces fierce competition for talent due to the significant number of large hospitals and nursing homes in the area. The organization understands the critical impact of hiring for fit and not just to fill a position, but was frustrated by the use of a behavioral assessment tool that was not providing much information of value. To ensure hiring managers were calling upon a consistent, structured interview process and were asking the right questions, Betsker sought out a better behavioral assessment tool.

Expanding Use of HealthcareSource Solutions

As a long-time HealthcareSource client, Betsker naturally evaluated HealthcareSource Staff Assessment. In addition to enabling the structured interviewing approach she had in mind, Betsker appreciated that the solution integrated with the organization’s existing HealthcareSource solutions. “Integration with HealthcareSource Position Manager ensures a smooth transition in the hiring process, as applicants convert from candidates to employees,” she explains. Just as important was that it supported the organization’s specific positions.

Enhancing the Hiring Process

Now all applicants take a short survey and assessment at the same time online, providing Betsker and her team with insightful information to review before calling in any applicants. From there, the solution guides hiring managers to delve into core values during interviews and generates additional questions that help them probe further and determine if a candidate’s personality is the right fit with the organization’s culture. “Using the solution has improved the interviewing process by moving us away from task-oriented questions, which is especially helpful for managers that don’t do much hiring. Our hiring managers have gained newfound confidence in their interviewing capabilities,” says Betsker.

According to Betsker, the HealthcareSource solution also helps Messiah Lifeways compare applicants with their peers, using healthcare-specific norms. This helps the organization understand what constitutes high or low levels of a given competency and enables better hiring decisions.

Just as important, the solution also supports Messiah Lifeways’ compliance efforts. “If we get questioned on why we did or did not hire someone, we can use documentation from the interview questions to back up the hiring manager’s decision,” she continues.

The organization is also taking advantage of the HealthcareSource Leadership Assessment. “We ask candidates that we are seriously pursuing to take the leadership assessment in addition to the behavioral assessment. Combined, the scorecards from these put our hiring managers in a solid position to interact with these candidates and make informed decisions about the best choice for our organization,” concludes Betsker.

Central Maine Medical Family
Messiah Lifeways

Using the solution has improved the interviewing process by moving us away from task-oriented questions, which is epecially helpful for managers that don't do much hiring. Our hiring managers have gained newfound confidence in their interviewing capabilities

Messiah Lifeways


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