In a highly competitive labor market, hiring the right people has emerged as a crucial competitive advantage for companies. That’s especially true in healthcare, a complex and rapidly changing sector that demands workers with specialized knowledge, sharp problem-solving capabilities, and a passionate commitment to improving the healthcare system.
Cognosante understands the importance of hiring and retaining top talent. We spend considerable time and effort identifying and recruiting creative critical thinkers who truly care about making a difference in healthcare. It’s the strength of our employees that allows Cognosante to deliver game-changing ideas and powerful results for our customers.
To find out how talent is a critical differentiator for Cognosante, we talked to Mustafa El Rafey, Cognosante’s chief people officer, and Stephanie Barber, Cognosante’s talent acquisition director. El Rafey builds and oversees Cognosante’s ability to acquire, engage, develop, and retain great talent, and Barber directs Cognosante’s talent acquisition and recruitment programs.
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In a few words, what qualities do you look for in a prospective Cognosante employee?
El Rafey: Most importantly, we’re looking for people who are passionate about making healthcare better for everyone and want to make a positive difference. Passion differentiates our culture, our services, and our solutions. Besides that, we’re looking for critical thinkers who are team-oriented, take ownership, and have broad perspectives. We want people who can figure out how the disparate pieces in healthcare reform fit together and then connect the dots in the health IT world for our clients.
Barber: I’d also add adaptability. Our work is dynamic, so we’re looking for people who can adapt to the changing needs of our clients. We’re also looking for people who can think creatively and come up with innovative ideas about how we can support our clients to help transform healthcare.
Why is hiring the right people particularly important now?
El Rafey: The war for talent is very real, and having great talent is crucial to our success. As a services company, we’re very much in the people business. We’re looking for people who can understand our clients’ challenges and think deeply and broadly about innovative solutions to address those challenges. Our employees’ knowledge, skills, experience, and ability to execute are critical to meeting our clients’ needs.
Barber: Our clients expect us to bring them the best minds to help solve their health IT or processing challenges. They look to Cognosante as a partner and problem-solver, so we need to have the right team in place. People are our biggest asset, and we want the best and brightest.
What special challenges are there in hiring people who will succeed in a complex environment like health IT?
El Rafey: The health IT landscape is complex. There are a variety of systems, and the [Federal] government and states are trying to figure out how to get these systems to speak to one another. One of the ways we add value is in systems interoperability and information exchange. We connect the disparate pieces of information and translate them into insights and solutions. Finding talented people who have both deep systems expertise and the ability to synthesize and navigate complexity is a key part of our challenge. There are not many on the market.
Barber: On our case management side, people with a high service orientation are always in demand and affect the daily lives of people all over the country. Even something as simple as a phone call might make a big difference to people who need help with their healthcare coverage. We care about finding and keeping people who help develop creative solutions to problems that really matter to people.
What is Cognosante’s hiring process like?
El Rafey: Our aim is to make every candidate’s experience as engaging and informative as possible. We recognize that although not every candidate will be offered a role, we may work together in the future, so we try to build positive connections. Our hiring process focuses on assessing the knowledge, skills, and experience of candidates relative to the positions they’ve applied for. We also assess their fit with our culture and values. We’ve made significant investments to better understand what differentiates higher-performing Cognosante employees, and we’re using those insights to help identify better-fit candidates. Not every company goes to that level of effort or sophistication.
Once you’ve hired great employees, how do you retain them?
El Rafey: As I mentioned, the war for talent is very real, so it’s important that we do all we can to retain great talent. We try to ensure that the work our employees do is challenging, meaningful, and satisfying. It’s important that they feel they have opportunities to learn and grow. We’ve made significant investments in providing learning opportunities for skills and knowledge. We move people across projects when possible, so they have different experiences. And we emphasize the role of every manager as a coach, helping their teams and employees succeed. The combination of those things engages our employees and makes them want to stay at Cognosante and help us transform healthcare.
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