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What Is Geofencing and How Can It Help Talent Acquisition? 

March 7, 2018

what-is-geofencing.jpgWe’ve spent a lot of time discussing the rising demand for nurses and other healthcare professionals, and with good reason. Increasing demand for care coupled with an aging healthcare workforce means the candidate pool isn’t sufficient to meet the need. It’s probably the number one concern of healthcare talent professionals. So, what can organizations do to attract candidates to fill their open positions? You could take a page from the playbook that marketers have been using for several years – advertising to potential candidates using a tactic called geofencing.

What Is Geofencing?

Geofencing is a location-based service in which an app or other software uses GPS, Wi-Fi, or cellular data to trigger a pre-programmed action when a mobile device enters a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location. Depending on how the geofence is set up, it can send push notifications, text messages, alerts, or send targeted advertising on social media.

Retail marketers have been using this technique for several years to advertise discounts and coupon codes to customers who enter a targeted area around their stores. The goal is to attract them to stop in and make a purchase. If you’ve ever used the social media app Snapchat, you’ve probably added one of its location-based filters to a photo or video you shared. If I asked you how they made those and your answer was geofencing, you’d be correct! There are many other applications that this is being used for, but on to the important question.

How Can This Help Talent Acquisition?

In the summer of 2017, Carol McDaniel, the Director of Talent Acquisition of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, gave an interview on the show All Things Considered discussing how she was using geofencing to attract acute-care certified neonatal nurse practitioner candidates.

McDaniel discussed the difficulty of attracting candidates, often getting no responses to advertised job postings. After implementing geofencing, she began getting three to four job candidates a week. Her process was simple:

  • Buying lists of potential candidates that were built using online profiles or educational records

  • Setting up wireless fences around the key areas where the nurses lived or worked

  • Having nurses with the right credentials receive pop-up ads on their phones inviting them to apply to All Children’s Hospital when they entered one of these key areas

Now, you might be thinking this sounds great and a bit creepy at the same time. However, the response Carol received from the process was very positive: “A lot of people look at it as a compliment and it makes them kind of feel good for the day. ‘Wow, Johns Hopkins reached out to me.’” For those that didn’t feel that way, they could easily opt out from receiving the ads.

She also discussed how cost-effective it was because of how targeted her ads were. In fact, social networks like Facebook and Instagram offer geofence advertising, allowing you to target potential candidates using push notifications from apps they already have on their phones.

If you’re having trouble finding candidates to fill open positions, I’d recommend looking into geofencing to see if it’s right for your organization.

Other Considerations

If a talent shortage is your number one concern, it’s understandable that attracting any candidates to fill open positions is a big win. It’s still important, however, to ensure that candidates have both the skills required to perform the job and are a fit in the organizational culture. Even if you’re deciding between one or two candidates, making the wrong choice means you’re going to start the process all over again. We’d recommend doing the following:

Define the behavioral competencies that matter

It’s impossible to hire for and reinforce the behaviors you value unless you’ve defined and communicated them. Successful organizations define the specific behaviors that matter most and select candidates that display these behaviors. Some examples include compassion, dependability, adaptability, emotional intelligence, and patient-focus/service-orientation. By defining the behaviors you are looking for, you’ll be able to determine which candidates will be a cultural fit for the organization and more likely to be successful.

Integrate these competencies into an effective selection system

Even if the candidate pool is not deep, build a selection system that includes an application and screening process, a structured interview, and a behavioral assessment. This will allow you to evaluate whether a candidate is likely to be successful. Even if you have to lower the bar more than you’d like, your main goal is to avoid bad hires. Equally as important, by understanding who you are hiring, you can set realistic expectations and manage them for success.

Build a recruiting brand strategy

Communicate why people like working for your organization. The best companies/facilities have a family environment where the staff feel valued by the organization and by the people they provide care for. Emphasize this during the entire recruiting/hiring process, knowing that research shows people will stay where they feel valued over an extra dollar an hour somewhere else.

Our client, DaVita, carefully developed a unique culture that emphasizes patient outcomes, service, and fun. They’ve built a nursing-specific selection system targeting people who will be successful in their culture, and then promoted that nursing culture as part of their branding strategy. Nurses who work at DaVita are proud of the culture and the selective hiring process that only targets candidates who aspire to similar goals. To learn more about DaVita’s unique approach, see our recent webinar: Attract and Retain Nurses to Build Your Culture - The DaVita Story.

Build a retention strategy

Geofencing might help you to attract talent, but keeping them is just as important. Many organizations are trying innovative programs to retain staff like providing opportunities for career development as well as an engaging work environment, awarding raises for certifications, and covering the cost to help staff get additional certifications. Conduct a survey to identify some possible perks to provide staff that show that you value their efforts and development.

Related: Seven Steps to Improving Employee Retention in Healthcare

Attracting candidates for positions when the pool is small can be difficult, but with a little research and creativity you can find multifaceted tools like geofencing that can be used in ways they weren’t originally intended for. Just remember to have a selection system in place that will ensure those candidates have the necessary skills and cultural fit to be successful at your organization.

To read or listen to the full Carol McDaniel interview, follow this link.

To learn more, download our whitepaper:

nursing shortage

Shawn Wilhelm Shawn Wilhelm is the Healthcare and Leadership Marketing Coordinator at PSI.