Working At Kaiser Permanente

Jason Phillips, Director of Recruitment Services for Northern California, Kaiser Permanente.

What are the highest priority areas in terms of hiring right now?

All clinical positions within Kaiser Permanente are and will remain for the future “hard-to-fill”. This isn’t going to be dissimilar to any other large healthcare provider. Specifically, Registered Nurses within the in-patient acute care setting are critical.

In addition to nursing there are a host of allied health skills that will remain in high demand. Specialties within Imaging, Laboratory, Behavioral Health and Rehab services are expected to continue to grow for some time. Lastly, as we continue to open new Medical Centers across Northern California, critical positions within Pharmacy (e.g., staff pharmacist) will be paramount.

What is the reason behind the shortages in these specialty areas?

We believe there are multiple factors driving talent shortages within Healthcare. One of these is low pipelines within the various universities and schools across Northern California. When you consider the large volumes of new healthcare professionals required to meet our needs, across key Nursing, Allied Health and Pharmacy specialties, there simply aren’t enough people projected to graduate to fill the total demand.

For example, within Kaiser Permanente for Northern California, we are projecting theneed to hire an additional thousand RN’s each year for the next five years. This is in addition to our base growth. In total for 2006, Kaiser Permanente within Northern California hired 9,952 new employees for all positions so as you can see the demand will remain substantial.

How do you attract and retain employees?

On the attraction side, we leverage a multi-faceted approach. Across Kaiser Permanente, we believe we have very competitive total compensation packages. However, in this competitive market, candidates are demanding more than just great salaries and benefits. Key to their interest are quality of life issues, the ability to embrace mobility across the Region and transfer across multiple positions over the course of a career, and be provided robust opportunities for professional growth and development.

On the retention side, we truly believe that there is no silver bullet in keeping our best talent. To accomplish this, it really requires a focused effort to develop our staff with targeted learning and appropriate experiences, deploy them at the right place and time within roles that benefit the organization and intrinsically motivate the employee, and connect our employees together through various venues so there is always a high degree of pride and belonging at the local level. To that end, statistics bear out the fact that when organizations focus on developing, deploying and connecting their employees, retention rates are positively affected. This is our goal.

How has hiring at Kaiser changed in the past few years?

Kaiser Permanente has operations across every demographic within Northern California. To that end, we must have hiring practices in place that allow us to not only hire top talent, but embrace what we call “cultural sensitivity” as well. We must ensure that when our members receive service that they are comfortable within theirsetting and environment. That means that our practices must be aligned to hire talent in diverse settings that can support the various demographics of our members.

We also have broadened our footprint for developing strategies and plans to locate talent. This includes an integrated approach that is geographic and functional. From a geographic standpoint, we seek talent locally, regionally, state-wide, nationally and internationally. From a functional point of view, we seek to leverage our networks and relationships across key Nursing, Allied Health, Pharmacy and Business and Management communities of practice. Throughout this year, we will hold or participate in some form of hiring event every month of the year

Are there any new trends within hiring at Kaiser that people wouldn’t normally expect?

I mentioned the cultural sensitivity approach, but we also are really leveraging the amazing opportunities that this organization provides employees to give back to their community. The magnitude of involvement that Kaiser Permanente has within local communities is very profound. We are finding that this really can be a differentiator for our candidates. I think people would be surprised how many of our candidates appreciate the ability to have an organization that can help them be connected to the greater good within their local and extended communities.

What are some of the methods that you use to get the word out about openings at Kaiser?

We have a plethora of different forms of advertising and marketing. There is no one size fits all method that reaches out to everyone we need to reach. How we market to staff pharmacists will be a little different than to registered nurses. The reality is there are different expectations when it comes to what attracts them to a place like Kaiser Permanente. Moreover, they have different expectations regarding workstylesand opportunities. We recognize these differences and look to alter our approaches according to candidate needs and desires.

What do you see as the future trend of hiring within the health care industry?

For the next decade I see health care as a Buyers market, if you want to use a real estate analogy. The supply of job opportunities will probably remain higher than the demand of interested, qualified and available candidates. This will require all of us within the healthcare industry to not only re-think how we attract talent, but also ensure that we drive successful retention strategies and plans. To that end, we not only have to hire them – but keep them as well.

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