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How Wellstar Is Hiring the Best Even During a Talent Crunch

How Wellstar Is Hiring the Best Even During a Talent Crunch

by David Ducharme, Sherzod Odilov and Jennifer Robison

Story Highlights

  • The healthcare industry is in a talent crunch
  • Companies need to become the employer of choice to stay afloat
  • Wellstar Health system uses Gallup's assessments as their competitive advantage

Even before COVID-19, U.S. health systems were facing a daunting talent crunch.

An estimated 1 million RNs are projected to retire by 2030, and with an expected shortage of 122,000 physicians by 2032, there's a critical shortage in roles ranging from environmental health experts to lab techs.

As the temporary hiring freezes from COVID begin to melt, recruiting, hiring, and retaining top talent increases the staffing pressure on healthcare organizations. One of them is Wellstar Health system, a 25,000-employee not-for-profit healthcare organization in Georgia.

Among the largest and most integrated health systems in the South, Wellstar started partnering with Gallup years ago to optimize its talent strategy with objective data analytics.

"Gallup was one of the first items on my radar when I started at Wellstar in 2016," says Sonya Aldy, Wellstar's Vice President of Talent Acquisition. "While attending new leader orientation during my first week of employment, leaders were asking me about the value-add of assessments."

Those assessments were built by Gallup to compare job candidates to top performers on critical -- but often overlooked -- characteristics or talents.

These innate patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving make a huge difference in healthcare: Gallup analytics of client data shows that high-talent nurses improve patient experiences 6x more than low-talent nurses, and hospital systems that assess for these characteristics achieve higher top-box HCAHPS scores than hospitals that don't.

"The data provided is a gold mine."

Aldy was familiar with Gallup's selection tools and soon discovered that Wellstar's assessments were identifying strong matches and selecting great talent -- but could have been used for twice as many candidates.

As a result, Wellstar's match rate was much lower than it needed.

Furthermore, Gallup assessments are built to be guides to behavioral-based interviews that can be the foundation of each team member's long-term development. And the fact that Wellstar uses a selection tool based on decades of validated data analytics sends top talent a potent message about Wellstar's employee experience -- but neither of these things was getting enough airtime.

Gallup analytics of client data shows that high-talent nurses improve patient experiences 6x more than low-talent nurses.

"I started thinking, 'We have this great tool and we were utilizing it -- but not to the best of our ability,'" Aldy says. "The data provided is a gold mine because it shows how [team members] work, how they adapt, and the different strengths they bring to an organization. Just using it re-emphasizes the commitment to quality we're looking for in candidates and team members and, in turn, how committed we are to delivering world-class healthcare to every person, every time."

"Our team members can develop and achieve their career goals in a position that meets their strengths."

So Aldy decided to re-introduce Wellstar to its selection instrument.

"We conducted training and a roadshow to socialize 'Why Gallup?' and 'Why assessments?' especially at our newer hospitals," Aldy says. "Our Gallup partners were a big part of this re-education journey -- not only are we a customer for assessments but they're always making sure we stay on point with our employee value proposition."

Part of the message to Wellstar leaders was about the power of employee strengths and the impact of talent on performance. Part of it was about the employee life cycle, which starts long before people apply and continues until retirement. And part of it was about how a strong candidate experience is the beginning of a development process that sets Wellstar's people up for success.

"Wellstar's selection process shows how important quality is to us, and it ensures that we stay strong and focused on our mission to enhance the health and wellbeing of every person we serve," Aldy says. "Putting our patients first isn't just words on paper, it is what we live every day. And it starts with hiring decisions that ensure our team members can develop and achieve their career goals in a position that meets their strengths."

Meanwhile, Wellstar was rematching jobs to the appropriate assessment, which returned a far higher number of quality candidates. That caught the attention of leaders who, like all healthcare leaders, are straining to fill critical roles with top talent.

"Since our relaunch efforts, we've seen our leaders using it for more behavioral-based interviews than ever before," Aldy says. "And the quality of hire has improved, especially in areas we had some struggles with historically. The tool itself gave leaders additional structure and more intel in areas where they needed a further deep dive. That's a real differentiator and helps us in our journey to remain an employer of choice, as we have been recognized year over year."

"Being ahead of the talent crunch is a competitive advantage."

Staying -- or even becoming -- an employer of choice is a challenge in the COVID-19 era.

Many hospitals were overwhelmed by patients while being undermined by rising costs, and many healthcare workers have endured the worst days of their careers. And now the talent crunch is at a fever pitch.

Healthcare organizations must hire faster and better than ever before from a smaller pool.

Wellstar is one of them. But it has the tools to select the best candidates, fast. And Wellstar can set them up to do great work, fast.

In an industry under multiple, serious pressures, facing a future that looks very different from the past, being ahead of the talent crunch is a competitive advantage.

"We focus on our differentiators as an employer of choice and make sure that our hiring process is succinct and candidate-friendly, which helps us attract top talent who will stay and grow their careers with Wellstar," Aldy says. "Healthcare professionals have more choices than ever before. So the assessments our leaders were talking about when I first joined Wellstar? They have proven to be an essential part of our ability to attract and retain top talent for our organization."

Win the war for top talent in the healthcare industry:


David Ducharme is a Senior Consultant at Gallup.

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