If you run the backend business of a health plan, you are intimately familiar with the big swings in workload. Some swings you can predict, such as open enrollment. But others come as a surprise, and you turn to a temporary staffing agency for help. Ideally, you want your temp staff to be immediately productive.
So what can you do to ensure you get the right people onboard and that they get to work quickly? Here are ten secrets to making that happen.
Secret #1: A temporary staff member is an extension of your business: They may be temporary, but to your members and your providers, those temporary staff are your employees. So take the time to get the right person, not just a warm body.
Secret #2: Use an agency with recruiters who understand healthcare: While many vendors recruit staff for a wide array of industries, healthcare is more technical and more complex than most other office work. The recruiter should have an intimate knowledge of the work to be done. A generalist won’t have that kind of knowledge.
Secret #3: Be specific about what skills you need and put it in writing: Take time to think through exactly what the staff member will be doing. For example, if you need claims staff, do you need a generalist or someone who can process claims for a certain specialty? Get a comprehensive look at where the gaps are before you call the staffing vendor. Use a written assessment to help focus recruitment efforts.
Secret #4: Test before you hire: The vendor says the person is experienced and certified, but ask if they have tested the person’s knowledge of the work needed. If the vendor doesn’t have a testing program, you’ll need to test them yourself before you bring them onboard. It’s an extra step, but it could save your days of wasted time.
Secret #5: Have a plan, and assign responsibility for it: Onboarding staff can be a complex process and needs to begin before Day 1. Create a plan and assign individual responsibility for carrying out the plan. This should include arranging for computer and software access, badge, parking, training/orientation, the schedule for the first day and expectations for the first week.
Make sure you’ve arranged a computer (either yours or theirs) and that the right software is loaded. Make sure any needed network permissions are arranged well ahead of time. You don’t want your temp to sit idle waiting for access.
Secret #6: Have a schedule for the first day and assign a mentor: Send a schedule for the first day to the staffing vendor ahead of time. Include what time to arrive, where to park and who to see when the temp arrives. Assign a mentor to greet the temp and show them the ropes. The mentor should be able to answer questions about the work and function as a contact point for understanding the organization. If you are organized and engaged, the temp is more likely to become engaged with your organization.
Secret #7: Schedule a kickoff call with the new temp before the first day of work: A conference call with the vendor and the temp will give you a chance to explain your organization’s philosophy, history, and background. You’ll also have a chance to make sure everyone understands what your expectations are. Talk about the tasks that will be assigned and your production goals, including your expectations for accuracy, to ensure realistic expectations.
Secret #8: Be ready to train and supervise your temp: Even an experienced temp who will be supervised by the vendor will still need training on the details of your systems and supervision of their work. The first week, keep a close eye on how things are going, to ensure that the temp has the needed skills and is fitting in well with your staff. If you see red flags, talk to the vendor immediately.
Secret #9: Don’t let the vendor fade away: Be sure there is a vendor rep to manage your project and supervise the temp staff, and that you have the email address and cell phone number of that person. If there is a problem, you want to be able to contact that person immediately.
Secret #10: Choose a vendor who will be a partner: Take time to create a relationship with a reliable, full-service staffing vendor, one who has expertise in all areas of health plan business and who will invest the time to understand your organization. You want a partner, not just a clerk who provides a warm body. Make sure your vendor has the flexibility to ramp up and ramp down staff to support your business needs. Your business is complex and having a partner who understands your business will pay off in the long run.