Doctor has prescription for recruitment

By Todd Humber (

Ask any HR professional what the most reliable recruitment source is and the answer will be — inevitably and almost without fail — “employee referrals.”

That’s because employees are the best recruiters the human resources department has: they know the company inside out, what it takes to succeed and they’re (hopefully) able to identify and recommend solid candidates to join the ranks.

Employers are well aware of this — it’s why so many pay referral bonuses to workers who recommend a successful candidate.

But one hospital is taking that notion a step further. Jean Fairfield, the physician in charge of the recruitment program at Hawkesbury District and General Hospital in Hawkesbury, Ont., has offered up $5,000 to absolutely anyone who can convince a doctor to come and stay in the bilingual town of about 11,000 that’s located on the Ontario-Quebec border.

Fairfield figures $5,000 is pretty cheap to get a doctor on board, especially compared to the cost of using a headhunter. And the publicity (the announcement last week garnered a fair bit of media attention) seems to be paying off.

One woman, who read about the offer in a Montreal newspaper, called and said she knew an ER doctor in the city who might want to make the move, Fairfield told the Ottawa Sun.

The cash is coming from the hospital’s recruitment budget, with $2,000 paid out after the first year and $3,000 after the second.

Rural communities across Canada are struggling to find doctors, according to the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada. On its website, it points out that towns with populations less than 10,000 account for 22.2 per cent of the population, yet they are served by only 10.1 per cent of the physicians. Larger rural and regional centres (10,000 to 100,000 population) don’t fare much better — 15.9 per cent of the population and 11.9 per cent of the physician pool.

The hospital’s decision to hand out a $5,000 finder’s fee will likely pay huge dividends in this case. But employers can’t exactly rely on catching the attention of the media with quirky stories to help fill positions as a long-term strategy.

We got a reminder last week (after months and months of dreary recession news) of how tough the recruitment game is going to get, with the surprising job creation numbers from Statistics Canada. The unemployment rate fell to 7.9 per cent in June with 93,000 net new jobs created in the month.

The clock is ticking on the demographic time bomb that we’ve been writing about for years in the pages of Canadian HR Reporter. In just six months (January 2011) the first wave of the baby boomers will start turning 65.

Employers are going to have to pull out all the stops to find and keep the talent they need. The odd gimmick won’t hurt, but a perfect combination of money, work environment, work-life balance, appealing career paths and corporate social responsibility will be just what the doctor ordered for good recruitment health.

Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. For more information, visit


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