Laura Kirschbacher, Corporate Communications, Pfalzklinikum, details how to establish HR marketing within a health organisation, in this project report
Imagine you study medicine or train as a psychiatrist or nurse in, for example, Heidelberg or Frankfurt. Where would you like to work after your exams? The Palatine countryside might not be your first choice. This, however, is where Pfalzklinikum is located, the Palatinates biggest mental health provider with, amongst others, psychiatric hospitals for all age groups with an additional neurological clinic and community based psychiatric services.
Like many – somatic and non-somatic – hospitals in Germany and worldwide, Pfalzklinikum experiences a skilled labour shortage. Being one of the biggest employers in the region with facilities on 14 sites, Pfalzklinikum used to source many of its staff from the region, with families working there for generations and shaping the familial atmosphere. This, however, changes with the increased mobility of work-life and strong competition for apprentices with private enterprises. The question Pfalzklinikum, a public sector organization, is dealing with is now: How to attract qualified personnel in the region and beyond and how to increase visibility as an attractive employer. We started by establishing an employer brand – mainly by launching a new career website and a new design for everything career-related – human resources marketing and recruiting.
Marketing and recruiting
Alongside this process, an important objective was staying down to earth and believable in our marketing messages. The process included the following steps:
- Before the actual project was initiated enthusiasts among staff paved the way and shone a light on the necessity of employer branding at Pfalzklinikum. They conducted the first qualitative employee interviews to find out how we are perceived as an employer and demonstrate the need for strategic branding. An official multidisciplinary project group was established, equipped with funding and given a time frame. A steering committee was implemented, which offered guidance and strategic counselling throughout the process. Afterwards followed the definition of project steps together with a specialized agency. This agency would lead us through the project, offering consultancy and execution.
- For a valid data foundation and knowledge about our core values, more interviews were conducted, and the agency carried out a large analysis of HR data as well as content analysis of, among other things, internal and external communication and vision statements. Employees were involved in the process from the very beginning – see more on participation below. The first of two workshops with the staff of different units and from different hierarchy levels helped to carve out shared values and validate the findings of the analysis.
- On the basis of this data we were able to devise an employer value proposition (EVP) and target groups. Especially with the target groups, as with many other aspects of the project, a certain degree of clustering and therefore simplification is necessary. The target groups are:
- Nursing staff, caregivers, pedagogues, social workers and similar occupations
- Administration, service, facility management
- Apprentices, students, honorary posts and interns
It is crucial that candidates find themselves in one of these groups as they are the point of access to the website and framework for marketing campaigns. The core message will be the EVP, which, in German, is a wordplay and roughly translates as Being wired differently suits us. Mindset, Heart and Brains. We at Pfalzklinikum. (Anders gestrickt steht uns gut. Haltung, Herz und Köpfchen. Wir im Pfalzklinikum.)
- The following implementation included a variety of creative steps, from working on a new design for all things career-related with the agency over claims for the target groups and finally designing and launching the website. To get existing staff on board and acknowledge their crucial role in the organization, we planned an information campaign via our different media. We also put together a package with information and little gifts, all packed in a pouch handmade in occupational therapy on the premises in Klingenmünster to give it that extra personal touch. With the launch of the new website in autumn 2021, the project will be officially completed.
- The launch, though, should only be the beginning. Performance control will be a joint effort with a newly installed recruiting tandem. It will include monitoring the number and quality of applicants, time and cost per hire, number of clicks of the website and satisfaction of our own hiring staff with the process. Further tasks and projects will follow to position Pfalzklinikum as an attractive employer on the job market and establish more employee benefits. While the aim was to consolidate somewhat disparate recruiting efforts across our units, there will also be a need for individual solutions where necessary.
The process from the first idea to the launch took around 3½ years, with the official project starting in May 2019. We worked with the agency over the project duration.
As said before, employee participation was key for us to make sure we were considering the various interests of our units and to increase acceptance of the project. While the multi-professional steering committee contributed a managerial view, participants of our workshops accounted for the “basis” – from intern to teacher, nurse or physician. Communication with colleagues and managing staff of all professions and including them in the process is crucial, also that every person consigned to recruiting and taking part in job interviews knows about the project and the ideas behind Pfalzklinikum’s HR marketing strategies, the claims and attitude. They will be the ones answering any questions candidates might have.
While working on the project it soon became clear that branding alone would not meet the needs. Corporate communications will be responsible for the new website as well as other marketing activities, but an additional recruiting position was planned and established toward the end of the project duration. The main tasks of this position, currently staffed by a tandem of two specialists, will be to recruit physicians, build more target-group oriented marketing strategies, increase social media and performance recruiting and attract skilled staff from the neighbouring French region Alsace-Lorraine as well as other foreign regions.
The multi-faceted field of employer branding, HR marketing and recruiting in the organisation is now located between human resources and corporate communications, promoting intersectional working and knowledge transfer. It will be the work of the years to come to achieve acceptance of the brand internally, build up strategic employer marketing and foster the positive work atmosphere Pfalzklinikum has long been known for. Because if you recruit new talent, the next task is to keep them.
Please note: This is a commercial profile