University of Tennessee

Creating a Successful National Recruitment and Retention Strategy

May 13, 2018

Denise Carpenter, of Haslam’s 2017 Executive MBA – Healthcare Leadership OAP, devoted her Organizational Action Project to creating and implementing a recruitment infrastructure.

CHALLENGE: For any size organization, employee engagement is an enormous piece of the retention puzzle. Research shows that establishing the employee-company connection—by making people feel valued and part of the big picture—early in an employee’s tenure is vital to employment longevity. At Pathways by Molina, one of the nation’s largest providers of accessible, outcome-based behavioral and mental health services, recruitment historically has been a struggle. Over the last decade, Pathways has acquired 18 companies/programs with little infrastructure changes, resulting in siloed—and minimally successful—recruitment efforts. So, when Pathways started designing its first-ever National Strategic Plan, recruitment and retention were identified as two areas in dire need of strategic direction.

PROJECT: Denise Carpenter, Vice President, Human Resources (HR) and National HR Leader for Pathways by Molina, was hired by the company in 2015 to design and implement a Human Resources National Structure, including a National Recruitment Structure. Later that same year, Molina Healthcare acquired Pathways, a move that initially appeared to include much-needed HR tools, such as a state-of-the-art applicant tracking system and staff to manage the Pathways recruitment function. The promised help never panned out, so Carpenter embarked on a project—which, became her OAP—to create and implement a recruitment infrastructure for Pathways.

PROCESS: In late 2016, Carpenter submitted a proposal to Pathways Leadership for creating a full recruitment team consisting of one director, six corporate recruiters, three recruitment specialists, and one social media recruitment coordinator. The total investment (salary, benefits, taxes, office, and technology training) totaled close to $900,000.

Carpenter’s proposal was approved and implementation began in 2017. Three temporary Pathways HR employees (a recruiter and two recruitment specialists) became permanent hires. In April, Pathways hired its first-ever director of recruitment. The temporary lead recruiter who had been performing the director functions moved into a HR director role within the company. Additional new hires included strategic and experienced recruiters focused on the now (short term) and the future (long term).

In assembling Pathways’ top-notch recruitment team, Carpenter and her team specifically looked for people who understood the importance of:

  • environmental scans, or internal and external information gathering, to help management determine the future direction of the organization
  • deliverables
  • urgency
  • a compelling value proposition articulating why would someone would want to come to work for Pathways
  • social media messaging
  • reaching various audiences, such as millennials
  • creating metrics aligned with recruitment efforts, such as using data to identify problem areas and areas of opportunity.

Once Pathways’ top-notch recruitment team was in place, the next step was implementing a new Recruitment Strategy to help address the company’s urgent need to fill hundreds of revenue-generating positions. As of 2017, Pathways was leaving, at a minimum, $36 million on the table because of unfilled revenue generating positions. The company makes most its revenue through its licensed staff for services rendered to Medicaid participants.

The new Recruitment Strategy for Pathways is designed to identify and cultivate sources of talent acquisition with which to sustain Pathways’ growth in alignment with business operations’ goals. For example, among the new processes added is a job requisition form designed to ensure recruitment efforts mirror operational needs.

Creating the strategy began with an assessment of recruitment focused on three areas of opportunity:

  • Building a Robust Pool of Candidates
  • Retuning the Recruitment Engine
  • Targeted Recruitment.

Another key component of Carpenter’s OAP was identifying the first of several retention strategies. The multi-pronged approach (designed to address differing priorities for individual states within the Pathways’ system) includes:

  • a national, structured onboarding program
  • a 60-day survey for new hires
  • a new performance management tool and process to help ensure performance evaluations are conducted in a timely manner across the organization
  • Total Compensation Statements for employees detailing the full scope of the rewards’ package offered by Pathways
  • defined career paths and related training to nurture and develop a homegrown talent pool
  • an Employee Recognition and Appreciation Program.

RESULTS: “We still have a long way to go but we have made some great strides,” says Carpenter, noting that some components of the recruitment-retention strategy are in the initial rollout stages or have yet to be implemented. “Staffing remains problematic, but based on our data, we have exceeded our revenue related recruitment efforts for 2017. The revenue tied to recruitment efforts helps justify return on investment for the new recruitment infrastructure. The investment in this effort demonstrates that Pathways understands that we can no longer ignore our subpar recruitment and retention efforts in an evolving industry.”

One of the biggest immediate rewards of Carpenter’s OAP was the formation of the new Recruitment Team, whose members bring the strategy, expertise, and innovation previously lacking in Pathways’ recruitment and retention efforts.

Adds Carpenter, “The team is complemented by our operations partners who bring the local, regional, and state knowledge, relationships and networking opportunities; their own innovative spirit; and an understanding of the environment. We work together to drive recruitment…to find the right people with the right talents and skills to be productive and engaged employees. We’re doing things differently, and we are seeing a ROI just off the revenue numbers we are creating because of a structured and collaborative recruitment effort.”

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