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Becoming Successful Program Partners

After spending eight years as a business development director with an agency, I transitioned into a program management role within the last year in order to obtain MSP/VMS experience. My agency experience gave me visibility into the different strategies staffing agencies utilized when working with MSP/VMS programs. Many agencies viewed MSPs with resistance and skepticism, and our agency focused on preserving relationships with the MSPs and embracing the corporate goals of the programs we supported. Viewing programs from both sides of the table has provided me a unique perspective of how well-managed programs worked with agencies and how supportive agencies can develop into strategic program partners. My goal is to share insights with staffing firms on how to become a successful partners within MSP/VMS programs. Here are some of my thoughts.

Program Rules. Ensure your team has a long-term perspective when working within a managed contingent labor program. Contingent talent programs sponsors are senior executives within organizations and collaborate with program management to determine the strategies set forth within the program. By operating outside of the program rules set forth by the sponsor, you’re not embracing the strategy of the organization’s executives. In the short run, you may receive a spike in revenue due to obtaining a requisition directly from a contact, in the long run you’re not positioning your organization as a strategic partner. Internal sponsors frequently work with internal financial teams to analyze spend and data is shared with program management. Program management team has a centralized viewpoint and is continually focused on improving the supply chain with contingent workforce agencies that adhere to the rules put in place. It’s also a small world, program managers share insight on important strategic partners with other program managers and supplier relationship leaders.

Patience. Staffing is highly competitive, and everyone is seeking to grow. Be precise with your value proposition, let us know where you can truly assist. Share appropriate metrics with us. That doesn’t mean there will be an immediate door open. Firms that were professional and maintained a respectful follow-up cadence, did gain opportunities if a need arose. If the agencies filled the need, additional opportunities presented themselves.

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Prepare for Attrition. Attrition occurs in staffing. It’s never easy to replace existing relationships. It’s easy to have attrition plans in place with team members cross trained and strategic operating plans documented to ensure program knowledge is maintained. It’s been surprising to see how much momentum are lost because agencies are not effectively planning for attrition. An immense amount of agencies wanting to work with us and program management doesn’t have time to chase new contacts or refamiliarize your account with the program.

Metrics. By working within programs, staffing firm metrics will be captured and tracked in reports. Metrics are important indicators on agency performance and reporting is shared with executive leadership. Successful metrics can lead to an agency being championed and having an improved strategic alignment within the program. Program leadership continually evaluates potential vendors to improve the supply chain if needed. Performance within the program ensures your partnership. Additionally, when needing additional support with difficult-to-fill orders or challenging geographies, program teams will examine reporting for potential solutions. Successful metrics can lead to more opportunities.

Credentialing. Within the Healthcare industry, credentialing is key to onboarding and reducing risk. The best suppliers become familiar with contracts, and professionally manage credentialing to ensure contractual adherence for each program. It becomes very obvious to a hospital HR leader or credentialing team member if your firm doesn’t understand the basics of obtaining, verifying and assessing the qualifications of a practitioner. Joint Commission audits hospitals to ensure credentials are in place and the fines and potential lawsuits are excessive. As an agency, you’ll want to be in 100% compliance when an audit occurs. If a litigious event occurs involving a contractor, one of the first actions the hospital will do is pull the contractor’s credentialing information. Be the agency that has everything in place.

Make Life Easier for the Program Manager. The challenges of managing a program are immense. We appreciate agencies that strategically consider how to best partner with MSP/VMS programs. Agency practices that I appreciated were, Single Points of Contacts within agencies, Agencies that seamlessly blend National Recruiting Centers in with Regional teams, teams that can internally cascade communication, and centralized governance over best practices sought within respective programs.

On a day to day basis, I viewed all suppliers as equal, everyone was given an equal opportunity. When challenging needs arise, the agencies that worked within the guidelines of the program, professionally managed credentialing, and actively supported the program were called upon for help. We are vendor neutral, but performance leads itself to additional opportunities.

UK Recruitment: Navigating the Skills Shortages

In 2019, the UK recruitment industry is facing a number of significant challenges. To better understand what they are, and assess how recruiters can overcome them, Bullhorn went straight to the source: the Global Recruitment Insights and Data (GRID), which is based on a survey of more than 2,000 recruitment professionals globally. It is designed to get their take on the top industry trends for this year. We identified a number of trends, such as how these professionals were handling the skills shortages, which I address in this post. In a subsequent post, I’ll discuss how recruiters are coping with the digital transformation and the uncertainty of Brexit.

Overcoming the Skills Gap

For 78% of UK recruiters, skills shortages are a top hiring challenge. The majority (59%) also highlighted an ‘opportunity divide’ between affluent and less privileged talent. This gap makes it difficult for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access employment opportunities, which itself contributes to a major hiring issue: the lack of available talent.

The talent shortage needs swift attention – and our survey highlighted a number of potential solutions. According to 77% of recruiters, employers need to accelerate salary increases to attract and retain the best candidates, while recent research from CIPD has shown that basic pay expectations have risen in the private sector by 0.5% to 2.5%. However, due to uncertain economic conditions and concerns around long term sustainability, such an approach may not be possible for all.

Another solution, and perhaps a more practical one, is to reskill the workforce. This notion was supported by 77% of respondents. Recruiters are encouraged to view the skills shortage as a talent opportunity rather than a crisis. The lack of available skills has boosted the demand for recruitment agencies, presenting them with an opportunity to elevate their services to not only place talent, but also create talent, by advising on how to reskill candidates.

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In fact, this indicates an expanding view of what the modern recruitment firm needs to offer – namely, an all-encompassing workforce solution that manages talent placements, as well as provides strategic consultancy on any and all talent needs within a client’s business. Low unemployment is a key factor driving this shift. The reality is that people with the right skills do exist –however, many of them are already employed and not necessarily considering moving jobs.

Our research also revealed that 60% of recruiters believe businesses with a more diverse pool of employees are more productive. Adopting diverse hiring practices can help bridge ‘the opportunity divide’ and result in finding wider and deeper pools of available talent. Intelligent CRM and ATS technology, for example, can help recruiters take a more diverse approach to hiring and extend their cross-generational reach. During the candidate screening process, they can identify applicants who might not be the most obvious choices, but who do exhibit relevant qualities, skills, and experience to be put forward for a role.

Looking beyond outdated sourcing tactics such as cold-calling and bulk emails, and toward personalized multichannel communications informed by data,can help recruiters successfully engage with candidates across the generational divide. In fact,45% said they find millennials (those between 22-37 years old) the hardest group to reach – despite being one of the generations that is most active across digital channels. Given that millennials make up an increasingly large percentage of the UK workforce, recruiters certainly need to improve their methods of engaging with this demographic.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how recruiters are responding to the digital transformation of the industry with the growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence. I’ll also share how they feel macropolitical issues such as Brexit are affecting the industry.

 

Online Privacy Breaches, and How to Avoid Them

Many of us consider our computers our personal space. However, that doesn’t stop malicious hackers, jealous exes, watchful employers, and the government from spying on you online. In most cases, your online privacy is compromised via the use of stealth apps such as traffic monitors and keystroke loggers to monitor your online activity. Both individuals and entities are constantly spied on for a variety of reasons.

Today, data is the commercial currency in the business world. Cyber criminals will use every means necessary to breach your security and access your company data. News about data breaches is becoming increasingly common in the corporate world as hackers up their game when it comes to methods of penetrating company networks. Keep reading to find out how malicious parties and authorities spy on you and your business.

Malicious software. One of the most common methods hackers use to access company data is spying i.e. computer and email monitoring through the use of malicious software. If your computer is infected with malicious software, someone is probably watching your online activity. There are several types of malicious software that could be used to spy on you. These include keyloggers, adware and spyware.

Keyloggers record your keystrokes and use the data to steal private information such as passwords and credit card numbers. Adware tracks your online traffic and uses the data to show you targeted ads based on your browser history. Spyware refers to any computer program that allows unauthorized persons to secretly monitor and gather data about your computer use.

Spyware has made it extremely easy for perpetrators to monitor, track, stalk, and harass their victims. This type of software keeps track of everything you do on your computer. A report containing all websites visited, documents printed, etc. is sent to the person spying on you. Spyware runs in stealth mode and is very difficult to detect and remove once installed on your computer.

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Government surveillance. Today, threats to online privacy are increasingly coming from government surveillance apparatus. Authorities such as the National Security Agency often use national security to justify the intrusion upon our private communication. Government agencies amass vast databases of online traffic as well a cell phone data and use it to index suspicious activities based on the vaguest of standards.

The easiest way for the government to eavesdrop on its citizens is to hack your computer; that’s what modern surveillance is all about. If you are suspected of being a terrorist or something like that, the government will break into your computer and install malicious software such as spyware and use it to exfiltrate data. At some point in recent history, all governments the world’s leading democracies have been accused of spying on their citizens.

Third-party cookies. Most commercial websites claim to use browser cookies to improve user experience. Browser cookies contain information that can be used to identify your computer. Browser cookies can be used by malicious parties to track your online activity and use the data to show targeted ads. Most would consider the use of browser cookies for these purposes a violation of the user’s online privacy.

How to Avoid Being Spied On

There are several measures you can take to keep the government and other malicious parties from spying on you. For starters, you can install VPN (Virtual Private Network) software on your computer to encrypt your online traffic. Even if someone intercepts your internet traffic, they won’t be able to access the content. Install antivirus software and always ensure it’s up to date to protect your computer network from hackers and malicious software. Last but not least, disable third-party cookies on your internet browser to keep advertisers off your radar.

We Put Data-Driven Recruitment to the Test and Here’s What We Found

As organizations venture to capture more revenue and tackle transformative initiatives in 2019, one thing is certain – exceptional talent will be key to their success. In the midst of talent shortages, finding talented candidates is a challenge for organizations still using traditional hiring practices. The solution? Data-driven recruitment. When hiring for our offshore recruitment team, PSG Global Solutions set out to test the efficacy of predictive analytics using a combination of data about the source of candidates, their performance with previous employers, and our own hiring process. Here’s what we found:

Past performance was inconclusive. Our assumption going into the analysis was that past performance would predict future performance. We thought “No Issues” candidates who did not have any disciplinary actions for absences (health, accessibility, or otherwise), non-performance (failing key metrics), or tardiness would deliver at a higher level. However, our predictive analytics found that “No Issues” candidates were only 2% more likely to graduate our training program than the regular candidate pool and 28% more likely to be an A-player. Looking at past performance failed to give us any competitive edge.

One incredible source was overlooked. Before we evaluated our data, we already suspected that employee referrals were an excellent source for our top performers. SHRM reported that employee referrals delivered more than 30% of hires. Employee referrals proved to be a dependable source of candidates, but we were surprised by a near completely overlooked candidate source: applicant referrals. Retention rates for candidates sourced through applicant referrals were 133% higher than those sourced through job boards and 30% higher than employee referrals. It even turned out that job boards, our biggest source of hires, were our worst source in terms of results. Once we realized the disparity, we drastically decreased our budget for job boards and refocused our attention on getting applicant referrals.

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Alma mater made a counter-intuitive difference. Before we started to pursue data-driven recruiting strategies, we assumed that more prestigious universities would provide our most successful hires. However, the data told a different story. Our most successful recruiters did not come from the most prestigious universities, but instead attended schools outside of the top echelon. While the data told us what happened (i.e., the correlation between schools attended and success on our team), it didn’t tell us why. One hypothesis is that graduates of the most prestigious universities are less likely to persevere through the ups and downs of being a recruiter because it is easy for them to find another good job (given their prestigious degree). Regardless of the reasons, we now know the correlation, and can adjust our hiring process based on that information.

Applying the Benefits to Your Business

What does this mean for your business? While the factors you analyze to predict your top performers will vary, here are the key takeaways:

Do not disqualify any data. Data is now less cumbersome to leverage because of the increasing sophistication of data analytics platforms. This widens the range of data that your organization is capable of effectively evaluating. Comparing different data sets from external sources and different departments might provide your business with insight that can impact your productivity and performance.

Be open to your findings. Though we did have assumptions going in, we never let them influence what data we tested and the hiring strategies we implemented to improve our data-driven recruiting. Keep a similar open mind and your business will not only improve your predictions of top performers, but will increase the quality of your team.

Get With the Program: Embracing Advanced Procurement in the Enterprise Healthcare Market

As healthcare entities continue to merge across the United States, technology that improves healthcare delivery will be an integral part of these organizations and healthcare staffing firms will need to evaluate their approach in the market. As the program I managed matured, compliance with the governance model was being required throughout the country. Recently acquired hospitals or niche labor categories were now being required by hospital leadership to operate within the program.

Even as hospitals were requiring adoption, regional per diem agencies and niche labor category providers I spoke with across the country were resistant to work within the program — a position I found astonishing. Less than 25% of all staffing firms indicate they do not have revenue through VMS programs. If your recruiting business isn’t continually embracing market change, it’s missing out on opportunities to sustain market share and isn’t positioning itself for future success. I understand why staffing firms would prefer not to go through MSP/VMS programs, but they may want to embrace change because change is coming.

Puzzling rejection. Several of these situations arose in smaller metro areas — those ranked below the top 100 in population. Perhaps the agencies in those areas hadn’t been exposed to centralized governed corporate programs or perhaps within their bubble, they believed their talent was exclusive. Hospitals frequently valued existing relationships and wanted to provide the agencies the first opportunity to continue the partnership and work within the program.

One situation involved several regional per diem agencies that were reluctant to work through the program. In order to maintain the relationships, the hospital considered providing these staffing providers with favorable tiering. The only requirement from the agency would be to adjust operationally, which could have been accomplished easily with training and internal change management. But those agencies opted not to continue the partnership.

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After a bit of research, I learned the other two major hospital systems in the region also work with MSP/VMS providers. Those staffing agencies may maintain a run rate with long-term care and home health providers, but the market around them was changing. The talent they retain is only as valuable as their opportunity to find placements for them. More importantly, if a staffing firm is not providing a service that is needed, it is inviting competition into its market. Instead of embracing the major hospital systems around them, the agencies in my scenario have essentially invited competition into their geography.

Embrace change. Niche providers have the opportunity to embrace the changing marketplace and position their firm for long-term success within large enterprise programs. Agencies with focused recruiting in specific domains offer a tremendous value to contingent labor programs by having deep domain knowledge and a candidate pipeline. Often, these agencies have enough opportunities and wish to sustain higher markups that they fear may not be possible through MSP/VMS programs.

On the flip side, these agencies should consider how they are positioning themselves with this business decision. Orders that are not efficiently filled within MSP/VMS programs are provided as opportunities for other vendors. The visibility of enterprise programs enables large organizations to track which positions are not being successfully filled, VMS/MSP supplier management will seek out coaching organizations to fill these orders. There are always agencies seeking an opportunity to expand service offerings. A niche provider may be happy with its current business volume, but refusing to participate in MSP/VMS programs opens up opportunities for competitors in its space. If there is a sustaining need within enterprise programs, a solution will be found. Enterprise brands can attract agencies that want to support them and qualified staff that wants to work within them. Niche providers have a unique opportunity to be successful within programs in their labor category and then leverage that success into new enterprise businesses.  I’d recommend niche providers evaluate the changing market, consider their future positioning, and take time to understand the MSP/VMS markets. Consider the opportunities the right strategic partnerships can open up.

Staffing providers need to consider why and how the VMS improves programs for buyer organizations. Talent acquisition technology will only improve and continue to become embedded within enterprise organizations.

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What to Look for in an Offshore Recruitment Services Partner

Technology has afforded us so many advances, especially in the area of candidate sourcing, making staffing firms’ jobs easier in many ways. But it has also added a totally new level of pressure. Everywhere you look, there are new challenges waiting to sap your time and reduce your focus on your main jobs of increasing core business and revenue.

The expertise, knowledge and experience of the right offshore recruitment services partner can offer invaluable support and assist staffing firms to develop cost-effective, quicker, more consistent and less complex processes and strategies that not only attract but allow them to engage and secure the best talent.

Choosing which offshore recruitment services provider to work with can be a a tricky decision, because when the relationship doesn’t work it is just another major headache for the staffing firm to deal with.

So, how do you select the right offshore recruitment services partner for your business?

Well, the good news is that when the selection process is done right it shouldn’t be too much of a time-consuming process, although you do have to ensure you consider the following:

Don’t compromise. Compromise is definitely not something that should ever be part of your relationship with your offshore recruitment services partner. You want your partner to be more than willing to spend the time to get to know your business and industry’s uniqueness, goals, demands, and culture.

Service and delivery should be proactive and innovative and the latest state of the art recruitment technology and infrastructure, which they are happy to show you, should be at the cornerstone of everything.

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Transparency. Full transparency in everything they do is something you must demand. Quantifiable metrics reporting that not only measures their service and performance but also can drive improvements is needed to really open your relationship to total scrutiny and transparency.

Credentials and Experience. Offshore recruitment services companies, like all businesses, come and go. So, you want one that can weather any financial storm with you.

Measure its value and history of performance compared to its competitors, consider the length of time they have been operating, the number of offices and employees they have, and where their offices are located.

Is there experience only in one sector? Do their team members have recent experience in your industry and how long do employees stay with the company?

Any credible partner will be able to provide case studies to document their experience, capabilities, expertise, and levels of quality and service and also have a number of client references who are happy to talk to you.

Check to ensure any accreditations are up-to-date and be sure to review their records of compliance and all details of insurance coverage and data-handling processes.

Accessibility. How you are able to communicate with your outsourcing partner, especially if they are overseas, is key to consider. They need to be accessible 24/7/365 and have a dedicated team who all know your account so there are no breaks in service delivery.

It really does make total sense to let an offshore recruitment services partner make your life easier and the service you provide your clients better. However, it is vital to select the right outsourcing partner to help you always deliver the very best talent.

 

Safety check: Dwindling audit numbers raise red flags

Last week, the Toronto Star reported that safety audits of temporary staffing agencies by Ontario’s workers’ compensation board fell by 80% in 2018 from 2016. According to documents the newspaper obtained through a Freedom of Information request, the board conducted 85 audits of temporary help agencies in 2018, down from 454 in 2016. The drop is puzzling, noted the paper’s editorial board, given that the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board follows a risk-based audit process. Because temporary agencies are considered higher risk, the editorial board reasons, their audits should have increased rather than fallen.

The data and the province’s audit process notwithstanding, worker safety is something every temporary staffing firm and enterprise that uses contingent labor should be mindful of — and not just for budgetary reasons. While a good safety record does reduce workers’ compensation costs to the staffing firm — and ultimately to the buyer — the human costs of an unsafe workplace are beyond measure.

“OSHA and the safety agencies of other countries believe an unproven but reasonable hypothesis — that temporary workers experience greater workplace risks than direct employees,” says George M. Reardon, an attorney who specializes in the staffing industry. “For financial and policy reasons, staffing firms and their clients should believe that hypothesis and proactively address the issue, regardless of government enforcement.”

Yet some companies still resist offering to contingent workers the same type of training they provide their employees. “Sometimes, host companies express concern that providing training may increase the risk of co-employment,” says Dawn McCartney, VP of Contingent Workforce Strategies Council, Staffing Industry Analysts.

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But contingent workers should automatically be given identical or equivalent safety training given to full-time employees, she says. In this scenario, it’s not really about co-employment but human safety. Reardon concurs: “Co-employment myths are no reason to withhold training or other safety measures from assigned employees.”

And when those contingent workers are procured through a staffing firm, the two companies should be working together to ensure the workers are properly trained and equipped. Be prepared to allow your staffing firm to see your workplace environment and to review your existing training program for staff so they evaluate what type of training and protection they will need to provide to their contingent workers.

You should also review the staffing provider’s safety training once it is established to ensure nothing has been overlooked. There may be additional training you will have to provide once the worker is on site. This should be viewed as a joint responsibility as part of a known, team-executed onboarding plan.

A regulatory audit, or lack thereof, should not be the primary motivator for establishing worker safety programs. It should be something companies do because the safety of their workers is important to them.

What it Takes to Win in Today’s Job Market — Prioritize the Candidate Experience

Employers in 2019 are facing the most challenging job market in recent memory. During the last year alone, unemployment hit a 49-year low, companies added 18% more jobs than in the previous year, and the quit rate hit its highest level since 2001.

Navigating the new hiring reality is driving companies to adapt their established recruiting strategies to better motivate job seekers, emphasizing market-rate compensation, corporate culture and the candidate experience. Implementing these changes requires employers to be authentic, flexible, agile and aggressive.

Be authentic. Creating a powerful employee value proposition can be a complex undertaking, but it demonstrates to candidates that you know what your organization stands for. Position yourself in the best light, but also be authentic.

Word of mouth is still among the strongest methods of promoting a company’s brand. When new hires have a great experience, they’ll tell their former coworkers and friends, driving referrals of high-quality candidates.

Communicating your value is a crucial part of creating an exceptional candidate experience and establishing trust from the onset.

 Be flexible. In the old way of thinking, an employer would draw a hard line and look only at candidates who had a certain amount of work experience and very specialized skills. More recently, however, there’s been a shift to hiring for capability — what candidates have done, what they’re doing now and what they have the ability to do in the future.

The focus is on outcomes rather than experience. Companies are hiring for talent and “upskilling” high-potential candidates according to their company’s specific protocols.

Be agile. If you make an offer to your first choice and the candidate requests a higher salary, are you empowered to make that decision in real time? Employers that are winning in this environment are ready to act or ready to lose out. Come out strong with an offer.

Make sure the person who’s making the offer understands the parameters and is also very skilled at negotiating. Does the person making the offer have the ability to create excitement around the position and the opportunity? And if a candidate doesn’t accept it right away, ask and really listen to the reason why — a candidate saying no could be the opening to negotiation that could still yield an offer.

Insisting on too many interviews or unnecessary tests that stretch out the interview process can turn off job seekers. Employers should be prepared to make quicker decisions, because it’s likely the top candidates have multiple opportunities.

Be aggressive. The idea that the employer always has the upper hand needs to be rethought. It’s a hard truth but a necessary one.

There are a variety of reasons job candidates won’t leap at the first offer to come along. Why do candidates say no? They want competitive wages and benefits, to work on meaningful projects or the newest tech product, and generous vacation time to maintain work/life balance. Candidates want exciting work or an opportunity to scale their career.

The importance of paying attractive wages can’t be stressed enough. Wages are rising across the board, yet some companies resist the new normal. With talent this tight, compensation is tied more to the scarceness of the skill set versus the location of the worksite.

Companies that need new employees realize the way they leverage their strategies and resources will determine how well they succeed in the employment marketplace. Some essential priorities, such as maximizing an effective and streamlined candidate experience, will serve them well now and into the future.

Want to know more? Access this white paper, 2019 Staffing Imperatives: What it Takes to Win in Today’s Unique Labor Market.

Talent Acquisition: Why the Human Touch Still Matters in the Age of AI

It may have come as a bit of a shock — and an embarrassment — to technologists and human resources specialists alike when an artificial intelligence recruiting engine being tested by Amazon to help sort job candidates was discovered earlier this year to be systematically shunting aside women.

But inevitable failings of this sort along the development curve are not even the main reason that “tech and touch” will always be essential parts of uncovering and deploying talent.

You wouldn’t know that both elements are critical to managing talent from the current enthusiasm over technology-driven human resources tools. “People analytics” is a red-hot area of growth: According to Bersin, a research arm of Deloitte, 69% of companies surveyed built analytics-driven HR databases last year.

Moreover, I can personally attest that many early-stage investors aren’t even interested in talent management companies that are anything short of pure technology plays.

But two words in the general description of talent manager’s most critical resource – “human capital” – explain why we can never get to a point where, as one of the “people familiar with the (Amazon) effort” described it, “They literally wanted it to be an engine where I’m going to give you 100 resumes, it will spit out the top five, and we’ll hire those.”

That word is: “human.”

No matter how good people analytics tools get – and as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and especially predictive analytics advance, they will continue to get very good – the human element will always be indispensable in our business, my end of which is to provide a leading marketplace for high-end, independent talent to the Fortune 500.

Very simply, certain human qualities – central to corporate success – can never be captured in an algorithm or a computer assessment.

One is cultural fit.  No matter how strong an individual’s skillset and career credentials or how closely they match the specifications for a job or consulting role, we all know of situations where face-to-face meetings and discussions reveal almost instantly that, for example, a hard-charger won’t mesh into a laid-back environment, or a professional with traditionalist views of office life into a startup.

Personality and temperament aren’t likely to show up in an algorithm either. Frankly, getting along is more important than going along in pursuit of team or corporate goals and objectives, and personal chemistry can’t be judged via electrons alone.

Then there’s judgment.  Sure, it can be gauged through any number of evaluation tools these days.  But it’s not something that can truly be known until someone has been observed on the job.

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Finally, there’s the other side of the equation: not just matching people to companies, but representing both parties.   In the midst of a pitched and intensive war for talent, a big part of our process is selling the company itself.  And some people – especially the kind of senior professionals whom we represent and help integrate into our clients’ workstreams – just don’t like being reduced to an algorithm.

They are in a position to choose the assignments they want to take, and tend to prefer to work with humans, to take advantage of their own experience to interact and ask questions before they take the leap.

In the same way, Barry Asin, president of SIA, an independent research firm focused on staffing and workforce solutions, has pointed out that a human can not only do a better job bringing out the intangibles in a professional but also in presenting them to a client.

As Barry puts it, “We’ve found that a technology bot can never be as a persuasive as a human when you’re competing to attract – or sell through – the best of the best.”

But it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that there is not only room, but an imperative, to apply both tech and touch. Tech to efficiently sort and screen and match talent’s capabilities with enterprises’ needs and objectives.  Touch to take the personal measure of humans on a human level, and to persuasively represent companies and their culture in the same way.

Artificial intelligence is getting more intelligent all the time.  But the more it’s developed and applied, the clearer it becomes that it will always be just that:  artificial.  In a people business – which is what talent management is – you will always need people.

Big and Buzzworthy: How Data Analytics Is Driving Improvements in Healthcare

Many healthcare organizations find themselves at the intersection of data rich and information poor. With an overabundance of data readily available, health systems have struggled with how to harness that data and unleash actionable insights.

Advancements in technology and the leap into the digital age have catapulted big data into hyper drive, and it seems everyone is giving it a spin. Data analytics have been widely used in other industries for decades, but has only recently picked up speed among healthcare organizations.

With continuous changes in the industry, hospitals and health systems have felt the pressure to find efficient and cost-effective methods for delivering high-quality care — or risk falling behind. This is where big data can add value. That is, if you know how to use it.

The first step is to understand what the term “big data” actually means. Traditionally, big data referred to the massive amounts of complex data that couldn’t be processed by traditional software. More recently, it has been used to refer to predictive analytics or other advanced analytics methods that extract value from data. The keyword here is extract.

Because big data is so immense, it takes specific technology and analytics methods to make sense of the information and transform it into something valuable. Left alone, big data is simply an immense amount of numbers and code. It is only when it is able to be analyzed that it becomes relevant and useful.

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Used successfully in various industries such as retail and manufacturing for over a decade, predictive analytics is building a growing fan base in healthcare. One method called time series analysis can be used to analyze past data and look for trends and patterns and make a forecast of events that recur over time. Time series techniques are particularly relevant to forecasting patient census in a hospital.

Able to predict supply needs and patient re-admissions, predictive analytics’ impact on patient care is far-reaching. One area in which advanced analytics can add tremendous value is in the scheduling of care staff. Predictive analytics can help improve staffing problems by accurately forecasting workforce needs weeks in advance of a shift. This ensures the right type of provider is in the right place at the right time to provide patient care.

But data isn’t perfect, and algorithms are not magic. Predictive analytics is a tool to be used in combination with extensive knowledge of staffing strategies. Data experts are needed to routinely monitor the predictive model, and functional leaders within the healthcare organization help make sure the model is being applied as intended.

To help ensure an organization is set on a path to success, information should be made readily available to the analytics team. This means enabling access to data streams, which ideally include a few years of patient census data and other workload indicators, depending on the area or service line involved. The more years of data provided the more accurate the predictions will be from the start.

While big data has become buzz-worthy in the healthcare industry, it is solidifying its presence by offering valuable insights to organizations that know how to leverage it. Provider organizations that have leveraged predictive analytics for scheduling and staffing have achieved outcomes that include increased staff satisfaction scores, improved nurse retention, reductions in their annual labor spending, and decreased the amount of time managers spend on schedule creation and staffing tasks — delivering valuable time back to managers to focus on staff development and patient care.

With continued pressure on provider organizations to improve the patient experience while driving down costs, predictive analytics offers a strategic solution to leverage data to help organizations meet demand.