Social media for healthcare recruitment is a hot topic these days. The results of the the HR initiatives survey we did in conjunction with ASHHRA showed that 30% of respondents chose social media for sourcing as one of their most important upcoming initiatives. After speaking with NRH about how they utilize social media for sourcing, I was inspired to sit down and converse with another healthcare HR leader aspiring to use this medium for recruitment purposes. Here’s my discussion with Lisa Acker, the Director of Human Resources at Sanctuary at Fraser Villa, which is part of Trinity Senior Living Communities.

Social Media for Long Term Care RecruitingWhy should healthcare organizations utilize social media for recruitment purposes?

Lisa Acker was compelled to start utilizing social media for recruitment purposes because of the changes in technology that cannot be ignored. “Forever gone are the days of filing away those bulky paper applications. Fast forward to the creation of social networking sites, and I think it only makes sense to use social media as an extension of employer websites.” In particular, Lisa utilizes LinkedIn, but she would like to see Trinity Senior Living Communities (TSLC) embrace additional forms of social media for recruitment and feels confident that it will happen. “Branding TSLC as an employer of choice [through social media] will attract top talent.” According to Lisa, TSLC is “moving in that direction.”

How does social media attract top talent?

It comes down to the popularity of social media technology. Many highly-qualified candidates are utilizing the newest technology to network, find job opportunities and research an organization. “High-quality candidates, especially those that have to be pursued, will most likely do their due diligence and research your organization [through social media],” said Lisa. There are four TSLC sister communities within thirty minutes of each other, and Lisa feels it’s imperative that they all have, as a whole, a “positive social media presence.” Employers can utilize social media to maintain their reputation and in turn attract quality talent.

What is the next social media initiative you’d like to implement for sourcing?

For Lisa, it’s Facebook. Facebook is the most popular and widely used social media platform and many employers are thinking about how they can best utilize it. Lisa notes that, “Many graduates are obsessively connected. I think it would be a great way to establish relationships with nursing students. It would be ideal to recruit them to do their extensions with us, and then become a natural transition to a regular full or part-time position within our community.” At HealthcareSource, we’ve had our ear to the ground about this trend amongst our clients and recently added the ability for our Position Manager users to post their requisitions on Facebook through our software.

As a healthcare organization, what are the dangers to utilizing social media for recruitment?

Social media is really a form of PR. Therefore, you have to be careful about what you’re putting out there. “Most of the danger involves choosing the right message,” said Lisa. “You cannot control perception, but you can control what message you post. Choosing a purposeful message is key, but even the most well intentioned posts have gotten unwanted attention.” From my experience utilizing social media, I believe that one person or a small team, depending on how big your organization is, should be in charge of the messaging to avoid sending the wrong message. Of course, within a large healthcare organization, finding the balance between the Human Resources and Marketing departments is difficult. Lisa is currently facing this challenge. “Allowing individual communities to disseminate a myriad of messages, uncontrolled by the corporate office, provides a risk to the corporate communications directives of an organization. There’s a balance between the benefits of using social media for recruitment and the potential risk of harming the overall corporate brand.”

Part of how many organizations are combating this challenge is by establishing an internal social media policy. Lisa’s organization is part of Trinity Health, and they are governed by the Trinity Health social media policy. For many health systems, this is the first step towards allowing wider usage of social networking. “All associates have recently gone through social networking training. It was an e-learning module that focused on proper ways of using it and expectations regarding patient/resident information.” Here’s a great article from Hive Strategies on how to develop a social media policy.

What are Lisa’s hopes for the future regarding social media and her advice for other healthcare HR professionals who are in the same boat?

Lisa currently has the support of her community team but would like to extend that upwardly. “It’s important to have senior management buy-in.” As part of a multi-layer organization, this is imperative for Lisa and others in similar positions within large organizations. “I would suggest that anyone who wants to pursue this must create the business case for it. In other words, quantify the potential rate of return on well-qualified candidates.” Often, it comes down to dollars and cents. Social media is not going anywhere and sites like Facebook are only gaining more traction with a wider audience. By looking at the numbers of those using social media, you should be able to build a case for why it makes sense to incorporate it into your HR strategy.

In the future, Lisa hopes recruitment will soon be part of Trinity Health’s current “goals of social media.” The current goals are “brand reputation, increased brand awareness, increase share of voice, increasing revenue and improve human performance.” Lisa, like many other healthcare HR professionals, is striving to add “attracting top talent” to that list, and she feels confident that they’ll get there.

Is your long term organization interested in learning how you can improve your hiring and performance management process?  Download our white paper to read four strategies from talent management experts to boost employee satisfaction. 

About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.