Q&A: Reducing Time To Fill in Healthcare

With Sebastien Girard, the Vice President & Chief Workforce Officer at Parkland Health & Hospital System


First and foremost, why is Time to Fill an important metric? How do you leverage Time to Fill to optimize recruiting processes and add value to the business?


This is a great question! The immediate answer is that having unfilled positions has a serious and negative impact on your healthcare system. Pressure on remaining employees, staff burnout and safety risks increase while quality of care, the patient experience and employee engagement decrease – all of which result in lost revenue for the system. One way to measure the impact of days to fill on a system is with the following equation:


(# of daily active employees) x (daily productive hours) = # of productive hours per day for the system


Having said that, I advise keeping things in perspective when using a metric like time to fill. A well-known article by Steven Kerr, Ph.D, City University of New York (“An Academy Classic – On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B,” The Academy of Management Executive, February 1995, Vol. 9, No. 1, ABI/INFORM Global pg. 7) sheds further light on this. While the article is dated, the concept is not. It indicates that in measuring or rewarding one metric, a company can end up with a different behavior or result. In this case, a focus on time to fill (speed) can negatively impact the quality of hires or increase the volume of costly mistakes. What’s more insightful is measuring time to fill in conjunction with quality metrics and giving both the same level of attention. For example: 1) Percentage of new hires still employed after 90 days, 2) Number of applications routed to interviews, 3) number of interviews to offers, and so on.



What is one challenge you currently face when it comes to Time to Fill and how are you working to overcome it?


It is threefold: Managing speed without impacting quality or increasing mistakes made by Talent Acquisition; making sure to adjust time to fill expectations by position versus using a “one size fits all” mentality (i.e. time to fill for an RN should be different than for a Dietary Aide); and improving time to fill in an increasingly competitive employment market.


Parkland Health & Hospital System is undertaking the following actions to address these opportunities:

  1. Managing speed without impacting quality or increasing mistakes made by Talent Acquisition
    • As described in question 1, measuring quality metrics and giving them equal or greater importance is key. My management philosophy is to always fix quality first, then speed. Turnover and bad hires are very costly to the organization. Doing them faster without addressing the root cause will only exacerbate the problem.


  1. Making sure to adjust time to fill expectations by position versus using a “one size fits all” mentality
    • At Parkland, the Talent Acquisition department is structured by roles and functions across the system, not by senior leader. For example, the Talent Acquisition Partner who provides hiring strategy and sourcing for Administrative Support does so for the full system and is only focusing on that function. Similarly, we have a Talent Acquisition Partner dedicated to supporting hiring needs specifically for Emergency Department RNs. We segment Parkland’s hiring needs by the following categories: Nursing, Allied Health, Clinical Support, Administrative Support, General Support, IT, Business Professionals, Physicians, Mid-Levels, and Directors and Above/Executive Recruiting. We then identify time to fill expectations by segment. For example: Executive Recruiting targets 110 days to fill while Nursing is at 55 days to fill.


  1. Improving time to fill in an increasingly competitive employment market
    • Parkland is working diligently to stay current with new technologies and recruiting trends via:
  1. Social Media
  2. YouTube campaigns
  • Video job postings
  1. Executive Search strategies for non-executive positon that are hard to fill like RN
  2. Strategic workforce planning



What is the #1 challenge you’re currently facing when it comes to healthcare recruitment in general and why? (If same as above, please feel free to skip this question)


The increasingly competitive employment market is certainly not making talent acquisition any easier. For me, the main challenge is that often Talent Acquisition teams in healthcare are obsolete and using strategies that were successful 10 to 15 years ago. Talent Acquisition is increasingly a sales- and customer service-oriented endeavor focused on the candidate and employee experience. Combined with the need to be more technologically advanced than HR functions typically can be, this change management transformation requires hard work, focus and resources!



How has your approach to recruiting evolved over the past 5 or so years? What specifically has changed and what impact have these changes had on Time to Fill?

Talent Acquisition is truly now a sales and customer service function, focused on the experience during the hiring process – for candidates, hiring leaders and others. The profile of a successful Talent Acquisition Partner is very different from what it was 5 years ago. In addition, traditional recruiting techniques are not efficient in a competitive employment market that’s dominated by Millennials. Talent Acquisition professionals must utilize an easy application process for job seekers and multiple outreach avenues (visual job postings, an appealing career site, a proactive “headhunter” mentality versus a “post and pray” one, partnering with the right solution providers) while sourcing qualified talent in a timely manner that fits the organization’s culture.



What recruiting tools and/or solutions (i.e. automated resume screening, chatbots, RPOs, etc.) do you find most effective when it comes to reducing Time To Hire?


  1. VMS – Vendor Management System
  2. RPO (if done well)
  3. Social media management firms
  4. Video job postings



Looking towards the future, how do you see your organization’s approach to talent acquisition evolving over the next few years in response to emerging industry challenges such as a shortage of skilled workers, an aging population, the growing cost of care, etc.? Furthermore, what are you doing now in order to prepare?


Parkland is developing a strategic workforce planning function encompassing three different objectives:

  1. Workforce optimization focused on assessing previous and managing current productivity and staff levels
  2. Predictive hiring focused on a 6 to 12 month future window
  3. Strategic workforce planning focused on a 3 to 5 year future window


In addition, we will introduce more technologies and recruiting techniques like competency based screenings and selections, video recruiting and likely chatbots. The majority of our resources right now are dedicated to the candidate and employee experience.


In the end, the organization that looks the most appealing and offers the best place to work will win the acquisition and retention war.


About Sebastien

Sebastien Girard joined Parkland Health and Hospital System in December 2015 with nearly 20 years of experience as an industry recognized employment market professional. Sebastien leads his team to success and helps them navigate through a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to: operational challenges, rapid growth, emerging market needs, economic downturns and large acquisitions and restructuring efforts. Mr. Girard previously served as Senior Vice President at Randstad USA, where he oversaw North East U.S. operations. Sebastien has a diverse background across P&L/operations management, people leadership, sales force management and defining and implementing talent acquisition models across industries (healthcare, manufacturing, food and beverage, finance and accounting, aerospace and more). Prior to his work at Randstad USA, Sebastien served at Randstad Canada from 2001 to 2010 serving as Executive Vic President in 2009 and 2010. In his tenure, Sebastien spearheaded double digit organic growth year-over-year for seven straight years while maintaining a Canadian Top 50 Best Places to Work status (rank: 12) and Canadian Top 50 Best Places to Work for Women (rank: 5). Sebastien holds a Master of Business Administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


SEE SEBASTIEN PRESENT at the Healthcare Talent Acquisition & Management Summit!

9:00am KEYNOTE on Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Proactive Talent Acquisition: Impact of Challenging Times and New Job Seeking Technologies on Your Talent Acquisition Efforts

View the full speaker line up and sessions>> http://bit.ly/Agenda2018HTM