Why Culture Fit is Just As Important to Healthcare Hiring

There is a rising trend among business employers to focus primarily on ‘culture fit’ in the hiring process. Hiring new team members that fit with company culture seems at odds with healthcare, given that the sector focuses so much on education, qualifications, and credentials. Yet it turns out that culture fit is just as important to healthcare hiring.

Healthcare has a big problem with recruiting and retention. A big part of that problem is that there are just not enough available workers to meet demand. But another factor is that employers do not know how to retain the employees they manage to hire. Without a good retention strategy in place, the employer is subject to frequent turnover.

Culture Fit Explained

Perhaps one of the difficulties in the healthcare sector is a misunderstanding of culture fit as a hiring principal. When the HR department seeks to hire based on company culture, that culture becomes the most important influence. Everything else becomes secondary.

For the record, a company’s culture is essentially its attitudes, philosophies, and viewpoints. It is expressed in how the company and its employees view the world around them. Company culture affects how they work with customers, how individual team members do their jobs, how the company views social responsibility, etc.

Healthcare facilities have their own cultures. All the same things Fortune 500 businesses worry about apply in the hospital group C-suite. All of the same things business managers have to worry about apply to nursing supervisors, chief attending physicians, and so forth.

To hire according to the culture fit principal is to hire someone whose beliefs and philosophies align with the company’s. The reason more recruiters are doing this is simple: skills and knowledge can be taught; philosophies, beliefs, and attitudes cannot. Therefore, it is better to bring on somebody who aligns with company culture and then teach him or her the skills he/she needs to succeed.

Culture Fit and Locum Tenens

The culture fit strategy is easy enough to employ in the healthcare setting when you are dealing with traditional staff on the payroll. Applying it to locum tenens may not necessarily be as easy. In a locum situation, facilities are just looking for a temporary placeholder rather than a new team member who plans to hang around for years.

Nonetheless, being able to recruit a locum provider who does fit company culture is a bonus. A good cultural fit means less friction between locum and employed staff. It means a smoother transition in and out, a similar treatment philosophy, similar goals for patient outcomes, and so forth.

Why It’s So Important

This post opened with the assertion that hiring for cultural fit is as important to healthcare as any other sector. But why? The answer goes back to two words: recruiting and retention.

A facility that hires according to culture doesn’t have to be so concerned about the length of a candidate’s CV or the accolades of peers. Recruiters can look at basic educational requirements and proper credentials and then focus on whether or not a candidate fits the culture. Such a strategy would likely open up the hiring pool to larger numbers of candidates, thereby giving recruiters more choices.

Most important is retention. Clinicians are no different than employees in other sectors in the sense that they value being part of a team they feel they are contributing to. When you hire for culture fit, you are bringing in people whose attitudes and philosophies make them valuable team members right from the start. Retaining those team members is a lot easier.

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