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Hiring in hearing

Hiring in Hearing Healthcare: ​Traits that Matter, Vetting for Culture & Driving Engagement​

Hearing Practice Hiring
As the hearing healthcare industry continues to see major changes, it’s important to make sure you have the right team with you to support your goals, but how do you build that team? When and who should you hire? How do you get the best candidate to stay?

Here are some important things to consider when thinking about hiring for your practice:

What does the current climate look like for those looking to hire?

Currently, the unemployment rate is sitting around 3.5%, so we can assume that anyone who wants a job, has a job. We also know there’s more jobs in the audiology field for audiologists than actual people to fill them. There are about 20,000 jobs out there and only about 13,000 audiologists, so there are a lot of options for people looking for work. This climate makes it especially important for a practice owner or a clinic manager to get it right when it comes to making a hiring decision. You have to consider onboarding, managing performance and development, as well as understand the overall labor market.

Attrition rates and the time to fill positions have not changed in today’s hiring climate. When someone leaves, someone else comes in to balance things out. Now is a good time to be looking for work and if you are looking for a job or if you’re going to hire, take into consideration compensation, benefits, employee development and the culture of the clinic or practice that you’re going into or hiring for.

How does a practice decide when to hire?

There are two main reasons to hire somebody – attrition or growth. If someone is leaving, you need to fill their position, or maybe you’re at the point where you’re looking at your schedule and decide you just don’t have enough bandwidth for the volume of patients. Additionally, practices often want to hire because they set up their goals for the year and decide they want to sell a certain number of hearing aids. When deciding to hire, you have to take into account things like your private pay and managed care payer mix, and any revenue not attributed to hearing aid sales so you can set realistic expectations with the incoming employee and your current employees and ensure that everyone’s compensation is going to be sustainable and attainable.

How do you decide what you can afford?

When you’re thinking about what your practice can afford, it’s important to think about your Profit and Loss Statement (P&L). This is something CQ Partners members can work with their account managers and sales analytics team to develop. You can pull numbers right out of your electronic medical record. You need to account for all of the things that you have to pay on a monthly basis, including what you are paying yourself, so you know the salary you’re able to offer once you start interviewing. You can also determine if what you’re able to offer is competitive in the industry. It’s also important to make sure that you have everything that a new staff member will need to perform their job properly, be comfortable, and help patients.

If you don’t have a P&L, get one created. Even if it’s basic, you’ll be able to see what you’re paying for things like rent and electric. A good snapshot of your current payments will give you an understanding of what you can afford to pay future staff.

How does a practice decide who to hire?

When you’re deciding who to hire, you’re going to look at skills versus traits. Every audiologist that comes into your clinic has similar skills. They are most likely competent in diagnostic, technical, and dispensing capabilities, and they most likely know how to treat tinnitus. What you want to look for when hiring someone is the traits they possess. These might include things like work ethic, coachability, empathy, self-awareness, passion, energy, positivity, and respectfulness. When they come into the office, are they saying hello to your front office person? And are they nice to everybody? How do you think they’re going to react to a patient that they’ve never met before? Do they seem coachable? At CQ Partners, we teach a proven sales presentation. If you want a new hire to learn something like this, you want to make sure that the coachability is there when you’re looking at the traits that they may have.

It’s hard to assign interview questions that may lead to discovering these traits, but you can ask for real world examples that may connect to the traits you’re looking for. Be intentional with the specific traits you want for your practice. Some traits that work for one practice, may not work for you, your staff, and your patients. Make sure you know exactly what you want out of your candidates.

What are some of the barriers you encounter during the hiring process?

When it comes to hiring, there are walls we run into call cognitive biases. These are certain thought processes that impact our judgement that we may not even recognize. There are many different types of cognitive biases but a few of them are especially relevant in our industry.

  • Availability Bias

An availability bias is a bias based on immediate information or examples that come to mind. For example, if a practice in Minnesota heard of a candidate from Georgia who accepted a job and then quit because of the cold weather, they might be more likely to assume that all candidates from the southern U.S. would dislike living in Minnesota.​

  • Choice-Supportive Bias

A choice-supportive bias is when a decision is made and people focus on its benefits and minimize its flaws, emphasizing a rationale that supports decisions they’ve made in the past. An example of this is assuming someone from a prestigious university is the right choice just because someone from that university had worked out well before.

  • Halo Effect Bias

The halo effect is when you judge others similarly on all traits, assuming that because someone is good or bad at one thing, they will be equally good or bad at another. This might happen when a candidate has strong educational credentials, so you assume that they are also a strong leader.

When you’re looking at a candidate, you want to make sure that your eyes are fully open. Ask a lot of questions whether it’s the pre-screening on the phone, or a face-to-face interview. Sometimes it’s a good idea to bring candidates in for a couple of hours and let them observe the office. Maybe you’ll have them work with a patient and observe how they interact. Do they possess cognitive biases about your patients? Do they have a positive or negative mindset? This is important to keep in mind when evaluating potential employees.

What is the importance of culture when it comes to attracting and retaining talent?

Around 15% of people choose to accept a job for the money, but most people will stay at job for the culture. Those traits you’ve hired for, and your employee engagement impact every interaction whether it’s employee to employee, employee to manager, or employee to patient. You want to work with people who you genuinely enjoy spending time with, and people who you can rely on to support the team and the goals of the practice.

A great culture includes highly engaged employees. You might do things to increase this like planning an outing for your staff once a quarter. This gives everyone a chance to know one another better, develop a camaraderie, and enjoy each other. These positive relationships trickle down to the experience of the patient and creates more positive interactions.

How does a practice work to improve & define its culture?

Changing and proving a culture comes from the top. As an owner, you have to decide on the culture you want and exhibit it to your team. There’s no one size that fits all scenario. Everybody is different. Where are you in the industry? How big are you? Do you have one location or multiple? These are questions to ask yourself when thinking about the type of culture you want. When you show through your actions, you’re how you want patients to feel and be treated, the rest of your staff will follow. Words and actions are very impactful. Show your vulnerability, express gratitude, and listen with compassion and empathy. When it comes from the top, it will make an impact on your team.

When it comes to making hiring decisions in the hearing healthcare industry, you have to start with looking at your practice and deciding who you want, why you need them, and what you can afford. Once you have built the team you want, a highly engaged culture that’s driven by its leaders will help you retain a successful staff.

Hiring for your practice doesn’t need to be an overwhelming process. At CQ Partners, we support our members with decades of experience in recruiting top talent, developing cultures, and creating successful teams.


About the Author

Julie Gesuale

Julie Gesuale joined CQ Partners in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.