Hospital Impact—3 ways to recruit top supply chain talent

While having qualifications to get the job done and done right is critical for quick success in a supply chain role, retaining top talent in supply chain requires that personal values are compatible with organizational values. (Getty/Paul Bradbury)
Scott Caldwell

In the current healthcare environment, hospitals and health systems face incredible challenges to ensure patients receive high-quality care while also working to meet financial goals. Innovative thinking from top talent creates pathways to success. In the supply chain, this innovative thinking often comes from those who may have never worked in healthcare.

Leaders from healthcare systems across the United States have said that innovation in healthcare supply chain comes from outsiders. We can attest to this perspective, as our successes at The Resource Group, a subsidiary of Ascension, have often been spearheaded by people who bring experience from a multitude of industries. Leaders within the organization came from consulting, financial services, manufacturing and education backgrounds.

Our experience at The Resource Group shows that investing in top talent from outside of the healthcare industry brings countless benefits. For us, three factors have made a difference in accelerating growth during a sustained period of uncertainty in healthcare.

1. Commit to hiring talented individuals who reflect attributes that align with your organization’s mission, vision and values, regardless of where they gained experience.

While having qualifications to get the job done and done right is critical for quick success in a supply chain role, retaining top talent in supply chain requires that personal values are compatible with organizational values.

For The Resource Group, retention of our supply chain leaders is critical. As every organization experiences, the investment in new employees is considerable; hiring for the long term is always the goal, but often that is overlooked due to the urgency of filling an open position. Part of our screening process takes into account how candidates align with attributes that each employee commits to delivering on each and every day.

2. Embrace and nurture millennial talent (and start planning for Gen Z).

The Resource Group was founded in 2008, when the economy was shrinking and millennials were entering the workforce. Our goal from the beginning was to transform healthcare by providing change management solutions to help Ascension and other providers lower the cost of delivering superior care. For our organization, millennial talent has been a major driver to achieving this goal. To date, millennials make up 48% of our employees.

Bringing in millennial talent has ushered in an entrepreneurial spirit that empowers our employees to identify problems and seek solutions through creative thinking. Many of the characteristics of the millennial generation align with an organization that continuously looks for ways to disrupt the status quo in order to transform healthcare to be more efficient and effective. Millennials care deeply about working in a purposeful job and will apply their individual skills to create purpose in their work, as Deloitte points out. Plus, they view business as a force for positive change, and many care about the future of healthcare, as another article from the firm states.

Millennials also care about opportunities for advancement and expect that, with their loyalty and hard work, their career will grow. Creating programs that help develop millennials into the types of leaders you want can go a long way in attracting and retaining top talent from this generation.

3. Recognize achievements and advocate on behalf of your supply chain managers.

It comes as no surprise to anyone who has worked in healthcare supply chain for some time that accomplishments can be overlooked by leadership given today’s hyperfocus on producing high-quality care while sustaining business operations. Top supply chain managers in hospitals help both business and clinical leaders achieve their goals, and leadership needs to recognize the critical role they play in achieving success in order to retain top people.

Elevating the importance of supply chain from the basement to the boardroom often begins, ironically, at the receiving dock. Do senior leaders understand what supply chain does behind the scenes to ensure hospitals continue operating? How often has your leadership visited the dock to see for themselves how the hospital gets its critically needed supplies, which are its lifeblood?

At The Resource Group, a program that has helped us advocate for our supply chain managers is Dock to Doc. This program takes healthcare leaders on a tour to immerse them in the important work of the resource and supply management function. The tour follows the life of a product from the receiving dock to the storeroom, to the doctor or caregiver, and on through the waste stream. After critical improvements are made to the receiving dock area, hospital executives are invited to Dine on the Dock with the supply management workers to show the area is valued, clean and provides a safe location for products to be delivered.

By focusing on these three approaches, supply chain leaders can make an even greater difference in transforming healthcare for the people we are privileged to serve.

Scott Caldwell is the president and CEO of The Resource Group, a business transformation services organization that is a subsidiary of Ascension, country’s largest Catholic health system. The Resource Group specializes in the area of non-payroll spend and the processes that sustain the value of the transformation.