At the annual ASHHRA Conference, which took place earlier this month, hundreds of healthcare HR professionals gathered in Phoenix, Arizona to gain valuable information from learning sessions, network with their peers, earn re-certification hours and perhaps best of all – have fun.

So what are the top things HealthcareSource learned at the ASHHRA Conference? Here’s our list:

1. It’s Great to Help others Participate

This year, HealthcareSource had the opportunity to sponsor three attendees to take part in the conference.  All three had an extremely positive experience; what we learned as vendors is that sponsoring new to the profession attendees is definitely worthwhile and rewarding.

Grant winner Cathy Henesey the Career Services Manager for Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, shared her favorite parts of the conference with us. The best part of the event for Cathy was the ability to network with her peers from all across the nation. “It was interesting to interact and find out problems they were tackling and learn some best practices,” said Cathy. There was one topic in particular that was the most interesting. She noted, “For me, it was learning about healthcare reform and how it could affect the way HR conducts business.” Lastly, if Cathy attends the conference next year, she’ll be looking forward to  “the night events with vendors and the chance to meet so many people, meeting with vendors in the exhibit hall and learning about so many products that [will] help us become more efficient.”

Grant winner Ursula Pawlowski, a graduate who is now a job seeker in the field of healthcare HR, also enjoyed networking. “My favorite part of the conference was meeting so many Healthcare HR professionals. It was encouraging to hear having a diverse HR background was a plus for those of us looking to enter the healthcare field without a healthcare background. It was amazing to spend time with folks like Joe Micucci-ASHHRA Treasurer, Carol Bank, ASHHRA Region 5 Consultant, Paul Morlock-At Large Director, Mike DiPietro-VP of Marketing at HealthcareSource, Gary Willis Leadership Award winners Kristen Fox and Dr. James C. Williamson, just to name a few. Each person made time for me – it was incredible!”

new to the profession 2011 winners resized 600New to the Professional Grant Winners at the conference with HealthcareSource VP of Marketing Michael DiPietro

2. When it Comes to the Huge World of Social Media: Know your Brand

HealthcareSource Product Owner Heather Schadegg attended the Employer Brand vs. Social Media learning session, hosted by Eric Howell and Matthew Gilbert of Baynard Advertising Agency. The top takeaway? Know the stories you want to deliver and use social media as the avenue to deliver it; it could be a hot new RN job or the inspiring RN story. It could be the HR brand or the corporate hospital brand. Just know what you want to promote and the story you want to build for your brand before you conquer social media.

3.  A Reminder about Reviews

When it comes to performance reviews there was a theme with presenters. They were really pushing the idea that a review isn’t just about dividing up money; its about personal employee accountability and ownership measured throughout the year – not just a rush once a year. At HealthcareSource, we believe a performance management software system that accurately tracks your data and encourages better communication between employees and managers with built in tools, such as reminders, will help facilitate this. It made us think about how important employee accountability is, especially in healthcare.

4. Follow-up with (almost) Everyone

Heather also attended the session Great Retention Starts with Good Recruiting. Recruitment is all about building relationships. Every person who interviews with your organization and doesn’t get the job deserves a phone call (or at least an email). And be honest – tell them why they didn’t get the job. It’s easier said than done, but according to session presenter Diana Meisenhelter of Riviera Associates, it will really help build your brand. As a Recruiter, I once rejected a candidate early on in the interview process and called them with constructive feedback. A few weeks later, they recommended a friend for the position. As it turned out, the friend was the right person for the job and the requisition was filled. I don’t know if the rejected candidate would have recommended our organization to their friend without that phone call. I also don’t know if direct follow-up with every applicant is realistic for all organizations, but Meisenhelter recommends doing as much as you can realistically handle. Good follow-up definitely equals better brand reputation.

5. It’s all about Engagement

According to Healthleaders, the biggest theme of the conference was “engagement.” Writer John Commins noted, “Employee engagement; physician engagement; patient engagement; leadership engagement: The four-day ASHHRA convention in Phoenix, AZ saw more talk of engagement than the Viva Las Vegas Chapel on Valentine’s Day.” I would agree that most of the ASHHRA Conference learning sessions were centered around engagement. I learned, however, from attending the conference that it’s all about engagement for vendors. The best thing about being at ASHHRA for us? Engaging with our clients and engaging with other leaders in healthcare HR, whether it was a great conversation about employee retention, sourcing, software technology or giving out our Amazon Gift Cards to many happy recipients wearing a HealthcareSource pin. Check out our pictures from the booth on Twitter, and I think you’ll see that it’s all about engagement!

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.