Choosing A Health Care Staffing Company

Renal Business Today
By Mark Smith, CEO AHS Staffing

Do you ever feel like you cannot accomplish your daily work load? Many busy professionals are overwhelmed with normal, day-to-day activities. Then, a resignation or medical leave puts extra strain on your already busy schedule, or your patient census increases and you realize you do not have enough staff to cover. How are you going to be able to find time to adequately recruit, screen, hire, and credential a new employee?  It may be time to consider using a staffing company. However, not all staffing companies are created equal.

To begin, it is helpful to understand that there are different types of staffing companies that provide different services. The main types of staffing companies can be described as:

Temporary or contract —Staffing employee are added on an interim basis. These companies can be further divided into per diem (day to day coverage) or contract (long-term temp coverage with temps that are typically local) and travelers (long-term temp contractors from another state). These services are typically provided to you with an hourly bill rate.
Temp-to-perm or temp-to-hire— Staffing employees are added until you’re sure a spike in business will sustain itself or you want to make sure you have the right candidate for the job. After the trial period, you will have the option to hire the candidate on a permanent basis. These services are typically provided to you with an hourly bill rate.  Upon conversion to permanent employment, the staffing company may charge you a fee or request the temp work a specified number of hours before converting to your full time payroll.
Direct hire or permanent placement— You tell the staffing firm what you’re looking for, it presents candidates to you for interviewing, and then you hire the candidate you select on a permanent basis.  These services are typically provided for a set fee or a percentage of the annual compensation of the candidate you hire.

Once you have decided what type of service you want from a staffing company, there are several other factors to consider when choosing a firm:

Expertise in your specialty.

This is a critical factor to consider when selecting a staffing company. If you own a pharmacy and are in need of a pharmacist, it is important to hire a staffing firm that knows the pharmacy space. A nurse staffing company that claims to staff pharmacists may not be a good fit. Make sure the company has an extensive database of available workers.  Ask the firm for references from other clients that they have served.

How long does it take to deliver a qualified candidate?

If you need a new employee or temporary coverage quickly, the staffing firm must be able to deliver. A good question to ask the staffing firm is their standard time-to-fill. If it does not meet your requirements, you should probably find another firm.

Does the agency conduct appropriate screening and background checks?

This is a critical factor in choosing the right firm. You must be able to protect your business, so ensuring the staffing firm you select conducts the appropriate level of credentialing is paramount. Some staffing firms will try to save money on the background and drug screening process, so make sure to question the firm and find out what they provide. The credentialing process should also include skills and competency testing, licensure verification, and reference checks at a minimum. No matter how good a company is at screening, some bad eggs invariably wind up in the nest. How does the agency handle these situations?

Is there transparency in reporting and administration?

If you select a competent staffing firm, it can turn out to be an exceptional partnership.  As in any good partnership, transparency and accountability are important. Some things to consider:

How accurate are invoices and other documentation?
Is the staffing firm willing to send you reports on their recruiting activity?
When a mistake happens, how does the firm respond?
Do they acknowledge the mistake or hide from it?
Does the firm keep you adequately informed on their progress in recruiting?

How was your first interaction with the companies you contacted?

First impressions are important! How did the firm answer the phone and handle your inquiry when you first called? Did they address all your questions and give you the impression they were taking your request seriously? Is their website informative, up-to-date, and easy to use?

The phone call you make and the viewing of the website can give you a good glimpse of the type of firm you are dealing with. Staffing firms recruit, hire, and train their staff, so make sure you are dealing with a professional, capable organization. One other tip, if you are in need of per diem staff (day to day), timeliness of response is critical. You might want to call the firm after hours and see how quickly they respond to your call. A firm that is on top of their game will respond to you 24/7.

What type of insurance does the staffing firm have?

The easiest way to determine if a staffing firm carries adequate insurance coverage is to ask them to send you a certificate of insurance (COI).  This document will show you if they have adequate workers compensation insurance to cover any potential workers compensation claims. It will also show you the level of professional and general liability coverage as well as other insurance it carries. Remember, you work hard to grow and protect your business, so make sure the staffing company feels the same way by the level of insurance it has purchased.

Mark Smith is the CEO of AHS Staffing.  AHS Staffing specializes in pharmacy and dialysis staffing across the country. For more information, go to:  www.ahspharmstat.com or www.ahsrenalstat.com  or call 877-309-3546.