Managers make the final hiring decision – HR helps them make the right call

Case study on how the Ottawa General Hospital tackles recruitment

The most common complaint from managers about the recruitment process at Ottawa General Hospital is it takes too long, says Lyne Garvey, director of HR.

But given that the recruitment and selection team fills about 4,500 positions each year at the 10,000-employee facility, the timelines are pretty good, she says. After receiving a request to fill a position, a posting is up within three days. Pre-screening is done within four days of closing a competition, at which point the hiring manager steps in to do the interviewing. Once the manager makes a decision, a formal offer letter goes out from HR within three days.

“The managers would want the process to go faster, but those are pretty aggressive turnaround times,” she says.

On the whole, the relationship between HR and hiring managers is good, says Garvey. Because employees have a lot of opportunity to move around within the organization, there is a high degree of internal turnover and managers often rely on HR to minimize the disruption that results. “They see us as a true partner,” she says.

The recruitment and selection team takes care of all initial postings. After going through the internal process, vacancies are open to the public and posted on the hospital Web site. Once a week, the job board Workopolis sweeps the site and posts any vacancies on its site.

Managers conduct their own interviews, calling HR only when faced with a unique challenge — complications due to seniority issues, for example.

“They also conduct their own reference checks,” says Garvey. Managers know better than HR what kind of person they want working for them and reference checking is an important part of that process, she says.

Although the hiring manager always makes the final decision, the role of HR is one of process integrity and quality assurance, says Garvey. Aside from knowing legal requirements, they know which managers are most adept and which ones need extra support, at times through training. “I am not aware of a manager who has said to us ‘We don’t want your involvement,’” Garvey says.

HR provides the expert guidance to ensure the hiring meets all collective agreement, legal and corporate requirements. Beyond that, the organization’s five recruitment and selection officers advise hiring managers on how to best fill positions.

Once a manager makes a decision, the contact officer is notified and reviews the notes from the interview to ensure there are not collective agreement problems. The manager then makes the verbal offer and the written offer comes from HR.

Though the organization is highly unionized and spread out over several sites, the recruitment services are centralized in one office. In some organizations different recruiters are used for different positions, says Garvey. “We have approached it more from a customer service perspective.” Instead of working with three or four recruiters, the hiring manager would “have one contact for all their staffing needs,” she says.

The much-publicized Canadian nursing shortage has also caused the HR team to come up with some unique strategies, says Rosanna Lashley, manager of recruitment and selection at Ottawa General. A full-time nursing recruitment and retention position was created and any nursing resume received is added to a nursing database. A list of candidates is updated and sent to managers every Friday afternoon. “Many of our clinical managers anxiously wait for that list to start making calls,” says Garvey.

As for future improvements, Lashley says the recruitment and selection process could be made more efficient through the use of technology.

“Right now we have a lot of paper on our desks,” she says. The process is mostly manual but HR system improvements expected in 2004 — either through upgrades or the purchase of a new system — and an online application process would allow the recruitment and selection officers to better support and provide valuable assistance to managers. They can be more involved in the interview process either directly or through the creation of tools and resources to help managers prepare interview questions, for example.

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