Learning Experience

Recruitment and Pre-Employment/Compensation & Benefits

Description of Roles and Functions within Organization

For this learning experience, the interview was with the Director of Recruitment and Pre-employment/Compensation & Benefits, named “E.L.” in my organization. This individual oversees recruiting and pre-employment hiring practices. This position includes overseeing all recruitment efforts (job fairs, advertising, campus visits, and all other recruitment efforts), annual reviews of compensation packages, oversight of hiring processes, and new employee orientation and training.

The employment process begins with the receipt of an application and resume. If the skills and qualifications appear to match an available position, after a preliminary screening by the recruiter, their materials are forwarded to hiring managers for consideration. From those options a few are selected for interviews both with Human Resources (H.R.) and with hiring managers. For those that do well at that stage, the H.R. department then confirms a minimum of two references and a basic background check. Compensation and benefits packages for new employees is based on a strict formula that is regularly reviewed. This basically has a starting pay rate for each grade of position, with an allowance of 2% to 3% increments for every year of experience.

Once a candidate has been chosen and a pay offer determined, he or she will be given a conditional offer at that stage, with the condition being passing confirmation from:

  • A health assessment
  • A drug check
  • Licensure confirmation

In addition, the candidate will be asked for an acceptable start date on the assumption of passing these checks.

Every October hiring and compensation and benefits packages are reviewed to ensure they are fair and competitive with similar organizations in the region. For our organization, these are considered keys to recruiting quality personnel to join the team. Our typical compensation increases have been averaging about 2% /year for most years; national averages have indicated a national average increment for 2010 of only about a 1.5% (base salary) and 1.7% (total cash compensation) increases (Report on salary surveys, 2010). Since many positions in the hospital are part-time, issues like full-time/part-time pay differentials have to be considered too. Typically, part-time positions of fewer than 30 hours/week do not receive full benefits packages, so the hiring and benefits group has to monitor these part-time packages for fairness as well as cost savings (McGregory, Niederjohn, and Peoples, 2009).

In addition to these pre-employment roles, this director is also involved in setting up orientation programs, ensuring that all employment forms are properly filled out and prepared, and that new hires understand the policies and systems of the organization.

When compared with current literature on hiring policies, this process seems very congruent with the need to assist not only in pre-employment and hiring, but also in assisting new employees in their transition to our organization (Budden, 2011).

When asked about the qualifications for this director position, the basics were that E.L. needed a four-year degree and special training in employment law to ensure that all aspects of the hiring and benefits process are within legal guidelines. Furthermore, specialized computer skills in working with both spreadsheets and databases were needed for this position.

Analysis of Key Roles as Related to Nursing

It’s important to identify people who are qualified for the positions so those selected for the actual position are qualified for those positions. This in turn affects patient care. Another aspect of hiring is that the recruits have appropriate attitudes toward both patients and their colleagues in the organization. By doing this job well, overall patient safety and quality of care is maintained. The director really enjoyed the contributions she and her department are able to make to patient care in spite of not directly being involved in face-to-face care of patients. They felt like they make an important contribution to patient quality of care.

Insights Gained from Observation

A typical day for each recruiter in the HR department requires dealing with anything from 40 to 70 open positions. Typically these are maintained in a requisition book that describes each opening. Because so many openings are available, 3 to 4 interviews are performed each day, along with phone and email responses—maintaining good communications is essential in this position. The sheer number of openings that each person has to keep in mind is daunting.

The Director also noted that one of the key problems for her department was in retaining experienced and talented nurses. In her experience, because of the shortage of qualified nursing staff in the local region, it is extremely costly to replace a nurse who leaves for reasons other than unsatisfactory job performance or inability to do their duties. She cited studies that indicated it can cost the hospital as much as twice the salary of the nurse to replace (Jones, 2007). She did note, however, that there is some research support that sometimes bringing in fresh new personnel with new ideas can be beneficial (Jones, 2007). However, with so many positions that remain unfilled, this is not an issue with our hospital; there are plenty of opportunities to bring in new personnel.

The Director said that her biggest frustration was the difficulty in finding qualified people to fill positions who also had appropriate attitudes and teamwork skills. Other problems were that often follow-up with candidates and with hiring managers was difficult and/or time-consuming. This meant that time management was crucial to enable the HR staff to stay on top of openings and ensure that essential openings are filled in as timely a way as possible.


One of the key insights gained in this learning experience was the sheer volume of work that the HR department has to process on a daily basis. Not only are there a large number of openings to fill at any given time, but all recruitment and hiring practices have to be conducted within strict legal guidelines. Furthermore, the compensation practices and packages have to be reviewed annually to maintain fairness and competitiveness with other organizations in the region. All these roles directly contribute to patient care by ensuring that staffing levels are sufficient and that the people filling those roles fit well into the team of colleagues in the hospital.