Lisa Hyder is the director of talent acquisition at Pivot Physical Therapy, one of the nation’s largest outpatient physical therapy providers. While Lisa and her team continue to address clinical hiring demands, their efforts have shifted in response to the impact of COVID-19. Here, Lisa shares her insights on what TA leaders can do during the crisis to support a strong business recovery through strategic talent acquisition programs.
What’s changed most for the Pivot talent acquisition team as a result of the coronavirus outbreak?
For the past several years, Pivot’s TA team has been challenged to recruit in an industry where needs outpace available talent. We worked really hard to build our employer brand and improve recruiting processes in order to keep up with our company growth and fill roles as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our recruiters worked at a very fast pace and were always “go, go, go” in order to proactively source, quickly interview and present timely offers before candidates could accept positions at other companies.
In-person networking has been our most effective means of sourcing, so we filled our calendars almost every week with travel to job fairs and hiring events. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has impacted our business so that the need for additional clinical staff is now not so immediate. The number of open roles has decreased, and all our upcoming recruiting events have been canceled. It took a few weeks for the team to understand and accept that we would be working at a much slower pace.
Pivot is looking ahead, though, and absolutely continuing our hiring process for clinical positions including physical therapists and athletic trainers. We have certain roles we need to fill right away and others where we presented offers with later start dates. We have roles, too, where we continue to phone screen every applicant but are delaying in-person interviews until we have a better grasp of when there will be a need again.
Plus, the next class of physical therapists graduates in a few weeks and many of our competitors have furloughed, laid off or reduced the hours their employees work. The result is that we have received an increased number of quality resumes for jobs that used to receive very few. It is frustrating not to be able to move forward with a great candidate right away, but we are establishing relationships and building our talent pools to be ready when this is over.
How has your team responded to these changes?
On a positive note, we have more time to work on key talent acquisition projects that have been on the back burner simply because we did not have the time. We just finished setting up our talent communities, which we will use to nurture and engage talent for long-term hiring needs.
We’re focused on engaging our new hires with delayed start dates through campaigns that highlight our culture and benefits. We want to remind them why they chose to join Pivot and reinforce that we are thinking of them and are looking forward to when they can be formally onboarded.
We continue to implement strategies to keep new physical therapy graduates engaged with Pivot, especially as students represent a major source of talent. For example, this April’s National Physical Therapy Board Exam was canceled. In response, Pivot created a crash test prep course with live classes and additional practice materials to help ease student angst. We leveraged GR8 People to send out an eblast about the course, hoping for at least 15 participants. Over 200 students registered!
We’re also staying in touch with students who completed clinical rotations with us but may now be working elsewhere. We created a Pivot Physical Therapy Student Alumni Network and developed a workflow in GR8 People specifically for the management of student engagement communications and outreach.
Speaking of student recruitment, how are you adapting your efforts given the cancellation of onsite campus recruiting events?
We are getting our message out virtually by sending tailored video messages to schools that canceled their onsite career fairs. We also participated in a virtual campus physical therapy recruiting event that was planned prior to the pandemic. Our Sports Medicine team has hosted several virtual “lunch and learns” with university athletic training programs. We’re also transitioning our Sports Medicine Interview Days to a virtual format and planning a larger virtual recruiting event for June, both of which we will promote and manage using the GR8 People Campus & Event Recruiting solution.
An organization’s employer brand has always been essential to recruiting success, perhaps even more so right now. What is Pivot emphasizing during this time to prospective candidates?
We continue to highlight what makes Pivot a great place to work and what differentiates us from the rest. We’re talking about how Pivot is evolving to ensure our patients continue to get high quality care during the pandemic. We now offer telehealth services and in-home physical therapy, and we want prospective candidates to know that. We also share Pivot’s fun, supportive and team-based culture through our social media channels.
What changes have you observed in terms of candidate behaviors and preferences?
Both experienced and newly graduated physical therapists are adjusting to changes in the job market. Just eight weeks ago, a candidate could expect to receive several job offers at once. Many of our competitors, we’ve heard, won’t even talk to candidates right now. I don’t think the majority of physical therapists ever expected their hours would be reduced or that they would be furloughed or laid off. We’ve noticed candidates being more responsive and proactive with their follow up to us because they aren’t getting the number of callbacks or offers that they used to get or were expecting to get.
What advice do you have for other TA leaders based on Pivot’s recent experiences?
I think the biggest lesson learned is the importance of finding a balance when it comes to engaging candidates today. We want to continue to build our employer brand and stay connected to great talent so that we are ready when our hiring activity picks back up. But we also don’t want to mislead people during this crisis, especially those who are actively seeking employment. It’s important for us to be honest about our recruiting process even when we are uncertain about what the next few months will bring.