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Banner Health’s Direct Hire Program: How It Improves Quality of Hire and Reduces Turnover

Ask any CHRO or other talent leader about the value of cutting-edge acquisition strategies and you’ll quickly learn just how differentiating innovative hiring practices can be. In the battleground for registered nurses (RNs) and other skilled professionals that characterizes today’s healthcare industry, the ability to rapidly make top-quality hires is a critical component in delivering top-notch patient care, reducing staff turnover, and beating competitors to the best talent.

Banner tackles talent challenges from two directions

Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the U.S., serving patients from Arizona to Alaska through its 29 hospitals, three academic medical centers, and other healthcare facilities. A new i4cp case study profiles Banner Health’s Direct Hire Program (i4cp members only), a unique approach that is driving improved quality of hire and decreased turnover.

Banner’s leaders have tackled talent issues from two directions. An earlier i4cp case study, The Evolution of Work: How Banner Health Created a Fluid Workforce, explored the workings of the company’s in-house staffing agency, Banner Staffing Services (BSS). That internal business enabled Banner to widen its talent pool and complement full-time staff with readily available part-time workers.

The Banner Direct Hire Program focuses on quickly and efficiently moving the best talent onboard. Banner Senior Director of Talent Acquisition Derek Anderson observes: “There is no shortage of opportunities for RNs and other skilled professionals, and many come to Banner as their employer of choice. If we aren’t creating a great candidate experience and moving quickly, we’ll lose candidates just because the process isn’t as efficient as it could be. The Direct Hire Program enables us to move faster and avoid delays. That means candidates aren’t left waiting and given opportunities to explore other employment.”

The Direct Hire program centers on improving four critical elements of acquisition: vacancy rates, hiring efficiencies, the candidate experience and retention of new hires.

A better hiring process drives better hiring outcomes

To achieve better outcomes across all four areas of acquisition, Anderson worked with colleagues at Banner to re-tool the hiring process, defining, and streamlining five steps by rethinking the roles of recruiters and hiring managers.

Instead of having recruiters step aside after identifying qualified candidates for a job opening and performing initial screening activities and interviews, the Direct Hire Program puts hiring authority squarely in recruiters’ hands. The time-consuming process of having hiring managers take hours away from patient-care units to interview and decide on applicants is an approach-of -the-past for Banner.

That’s not to say that hiring managers are removed from the equation completely. They still have vital parts to play, but those parts are different. Before a recruiter takes on hiring duties, the recruiter and hiring manager spend time—as much as two weeks or more—building a trusting relationship by conducting actual candidate interviews jointly. After each interview, the two debrief, discussing how the interaction went, what each liked and didn’t like, and talking out any issues.

Anderson calls the relationship-building between recruiter and hiring manager one of two critical keys to the success of the Direct Hire Program. “A couple of weeks is a major time commitment for a recruiter. But it’s important to establish that baseline trust to build this process, so we dedicated the time needed to make that happen. Once that recruiter/manager trust is in place, the time savings begin.”

A pilot program at a Banner facility in Arizona proved so popular and productive that the Direct Hire Program quickly expanded beyond clinical positions and began bringing on new talent to environmental services, culinary, and patient transport teams as well. The retention rate for new hires reached 93%, and Anderson’s team even found an innovative way to harness hiring managers’ enthusiasm to help drive adoption across other Banner properties.

Tangible takeaways provide a road map for acquisition

For the new case study, Banner provided five key takeaways that acquisition managers, in healthcare and beyond, can use to drive improvements in their own hiring processes. Among the strategies:

  • Set smart goals. Limiting program scope focuses attention on important elements and provides guidance for establishing measurable outcomes.
  • Spell out the steps. Five easy-to-understand steps comprise the Direct Hire process, providing structure and order while setting clear expectations for those involved. Banner created a visual framework that facilitates discussions and training on the process to aid in program expansion.

The case study on Banner Health’s Direct Hire Program provides complete details, along with easy-to-use diagrams that walk readers through the process—readily adaptable tools for any talent acquisition leader aiming to refine the hiring process in his or her own organization.

Carol Morrison
Carol Morrison is a Senior Research Analyst and Associate Editor with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), specializing in workforce well-being research.