Neil Armstrong, Tribepad CCO, on healthcare recruitment

Healthcare recruitment
Tribepad helps the healthcare sector navigate modern recruitment challenges. Neil Armstrong, CCO at Tribepad, explains what role ED&I plays in recruitment

Tribepad is a recruitment software platform used by millions of people each year to find their perfect job. The company is on a mission to make recruitment fairer, faster and better for everyone. Tribepad does this by giving recruiters the tools they need to find the best candidates for their vacancies. Here, COO Neil Armstrong shares his top tips for hiring in healthcare and tells us about the role Equality, Diversity & Inclusion plays in recruitment. 


Hi Neil! Please introduce yourself and your role.

“My name is Neil Armstrong (yes, really!) and I’m the Chief Commercial Officer for Tribepad. I’m responsible for helping our business grow - primarily by making sure our customers are delighted and that the potential customers are intrigued by us. I live in Sheffield on the edge of the Peak District and love getting outside in the hills and woods nearby.”


What led you to this industry?

“I’ve worked in technology my whole career, helping customers use technology to solve their problems, providing a communication ‘bridge’ between technical people and less technical people. I was drawn to Tribepad because of the mission to make recruitment fairer, faster and better for everyone.”


What are your top tips for recruiting in healthcare?

“Healthcare has long faced staff shortages but recent events, like the pandemic, have amplified the issue. With an ageing population and the shadow of long COVID lingering, demand is soaring. Recruiters, thus, have their work cut out - they need to up their game in drawing potential candidates in. 

“Did you know 1 in 8 UK adults are unpaid carers? Let's tap into this group. Could we target them for part-time roles? Let staff share a ‘day in the life’ as an authentic peek behind the curtain. Focus on fit rather than qualifications - can we pivot to on-the-job training? Make job ads clearer and friendlier so they are not daunting for candidates.

“Also consider how you hire contractors. The health and social care sector relies on more locums, temps, and contractors than ever, and that trend is increasing. 

“The role of hiring managers in the recruitment process is pivotal. However, there are instances where delays in moving candidates through hiring stages or in reviewing applications can create bottlenecks. Streamlining collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers is essential for an efficient process.

“Help hiring managers understand the recruitment process and their collaborative role in it. Use real-time data to reinforce points. Arm them with intuitive, easy-to-use tools that make their role in recruitment simple and provide a single source of truth. Use comprehensive recruitment data to show the impact of individual and team actions and campaigns.”


How did you manage the NHS vaccine army recruitment?

“NHS Professionals (NHSP) needed a way of allowing thousands of potential vaccinators to apply quickly and easily so that they could start work as soon as possible. They needed a cost-effective applicant tracking system (ATS) that worked seamlessly with other partners and platforms to ensure a compliant and positive user journey.

“A highly automated workflow was essential as resources were limited and time was of the essence. The project needed to meet the complex requirements of successfully taking up an NHS role associated with the National Vaccination Programme. There were a variety of questionnaires and documents which needed to be completed and uploaded to satisfy compliance and recruitment standards. This led to our quickest ever deployment, with the new talent acquisition platform going live in just two weeks, along with a custom-built careers site and integrated video interviewing platform.

“More than 50,000 candidates were screened and taken through various assessment and compliance stages, resulting in 17,000 vaccinators being made available to NHS vaccine centres across the country.”


Why do healthcare staff have high turnover rates?

“Getting talent in is great. But, keeping them? That’s another story. Some sectors in healthcare have turnover rates that would make your jaw drop. A holistic approach that not only focuses on recruitment but also on employee satisfaction and growth is vital.

“Health and social care jobs can be challenging. Honesty upfront helps. A lot of new hires leave within the first year, so it’s crucial to get that handover from recruitment to onboarding right. This can include little gestures such as a note on the first day through to bigger policy drives for inclusion. Recognising it’s a competitive industry is key; employees will move if they feel they’re not valued or rewarded for the job they’re doing. So recruitment, talent and wider HR teams have to work with leadership and line managers to deliver a successful culture that retains, as well as attracts, great people.”


How can the industry address key questions about hiring, onboarding, cultural fit and career progression to retain its workforce?

“Employees who fit the company culture tend to feel more connected to the organisation and their colleagues, leading to higher engagement and job satisfaction and lower turnover rates. Getting the onboarding for new starters is just as important as finding the right candidate in the first place.

“How people perceive incentives and benefits can vary. Some employees may see them as essential components of their job satisfaction and overall well-being, while others may view them as perks that are ‘nice to have’ but not critical. Factors such as an individual's career stage, family situation, personal values, and financial goals can all influence their perception of and appreciation for incentives and benefits. So make sure that the offering is something that works for your workforce.”


How can recruiters streamline and optimise their processes to counteract financial pressures?

“With candidate shortages come increased costs. Think about it: the longer a position remains vacant or the higher the staff turnover, the more expensive the whole recruitment process becomes. Add inflation to the mix, and you've got a real challenge on your hands. Extended vacancies and recurring training costs for new hires strain the recruitment budget, so talent acquisition teams need to be thinking about getting the right people in in a timely fashion, and keep them there.

“Examine your internal processes – and the recruitment technology that supports them – to ensure you’re identifying and engaging with your best candidates as fast as possible. We see time and again how important speed of interaction is, or you’ll consistently lose the best people and get sent back to the drawing board. So it’s about finding the right technology and processes for your needs, and consistently optimising them to deliver results. Recruiters should be freed up to find the best people and build strong relationships - not complete tedious admin and fight with spreadsheets to manually create reports.

“Technology has enabled tremendous changes in the hiring process; such as the use of a range of assessments to automatically screen candidates. Using technology in the recruitment process has the positive impact of reducing the stress and admin time of recruitment teams, freeing them up to focus on the important task of building relationships with applicants. Combined this reduces the risk of candidate ghosting and increases the chances of a positive candidate experience.

“Finally, really look at your job descriptions:

  • Really question what is essential and what is desirable
  • Clearly outline primary responsibilities and qualifications needed for the role. This helps candidates understand whether they possess the necessary skills and experience, reducing the number of unqualified applicants
  • Use inclusive language. Use gender-neutral language and avoid jargon, industry-specific acronyms, or overly technical terms that might alienate potential candidates. Inclusive language ensures that the job description is accessible to a diverse range of applicants
  • Be cautious not to use language or set requirements that may inadvertently exclude or discriminate against certain groups. For example, avoid using overly aggressive language or requiring an excessive number of years of experience that may not be necessary for the role.”


How can improved data visibility help healthcare recruiters?

“For many recruiters, especially in expansive healthcare organisations, there's an overwhelming amount of data to manage. In large healthcare organisations, data can get so scattered that it's hard to keep track of the recruitment process' nitty-gritty. Tracking vacancies, candidate sources, interview schedules, and more requires a systematic approach to prevent gaps and overlaps. This helps ensure streamlined and effective communication with candidates, manage ED&I, and reduce any errors in the process. It also allows for effective reporting so you know what’s working and what can be improved. 

“True value comes when you slice and dice raw data to get meaningful insights. Look for reporting functionality that empowers you to run simple, fast reports addressing your biggest questions. Reporting can be a discrete process to solve a problem – but it should also be a continuous one, to drive constant improvement. Embed reporting into your process with automated and scheduled reports.

“Focus on measurable, objective metrics when evaluating candidates, not everyone has the education for the role but has the experience. Not everyone has the experience but has interchangeable skill sets that can make them the best fit for the role. This can help minimise the influence of personal biases or subjective impressions in the hiring process.

“Use data-driven tools like AI-powered recruitment software to screen resumes and rank candidates based on objective criteria. These tools can help reduce bias by automating some aspects of the hiring process, although it's essential to monitor them for potential biases embedded in their algorithms.”


What role does ED&I play in recruitment? 

“Companies still struggle to create diverse and inclusive workforces, resulting in a lack of representation and missed opportunities for talented individuals. People hire other people who look like them, creating a disconnect in how well companies and organisations can serve their communities. Changes need to include inclusive hiring practices, such as anonymised applications and bias training for hiring managers, to mitigate unconscious biases and promote a culture of inclusion.

“Our Stop the Bias report shows clearly candidates believe they are being discriminated against for a range of characteristics. We believe the right job genuinely changes lives, giving people energy, enthusiasm and drive, as well as allowing them to afford the life they want to live. And everyone, regardless of background, should have this opportunity.

“To that end, using recruitment software to automatically anonymise applications has been a game-changer. And candidates want it - with 76.6% of people questioned feeling this would make things fairer. However, interestingly, just 18.8% of people we surveyed believed that this information should be removed from applications. In 2021, we worked closely with Coventry City Council to help improve diversity in their recruitment process. They saw a 117% increase in the number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic candidates from a number of measures.”


What do the next 12 months hold for you and the company?

“It’s an exciting time for Tribepad and our customers as we’re on a growth trajectory. We’re investing heavily in our team and our platform, bringing new features, improving UX and launching AI capabilities to make recruitment fairer, faster and better for everyone!”

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