4 Successful Ways to Instantly Recruit Hundreds of Contact Tracers

Michael Rhein, president and CEO at the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), remembers the request vividly.

“How fast can you hire 50 people for us?”

The ask came from stressed health officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, the most populated county in the Commonwealth with more than 1.1 million residents.

It was May 2020, and county officials were particularly concerned about the spread of COVID-19 from people who were asymptomatic and unknowingly transmitting the virus.

“That’s when many health departments realized they needed to scale up their workforce fast to keep up with the increasing need for contact tracing,” Rhein said.

It was the high-volume, high-velocity staffing and training initiative that GattiHR’s TalentBoost was designed to do. The state-of-the-art technology finds the right fit quickly, whether it’s one unique individual or, in this case, dozens.

In need of support, Fairfax County officials engaged IPHI, a nonprofit group that works with regional programs in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., to strengthen health systems and policy.

Fifty new hires, plus training and support? We can do that, Rhein thought.

“But then they asked, ‘What about 100?’” he said. “Then it was 300 and 400. The numbers kept going up.”

Rhein added: “IPHI had experience deploying staff to partner organizations and had excellent capabilities in workforce training and implementing public health programs.  However, large-scale, rapid hiring was not something we were prepared to undertake on our own at the time.”

The solution? IPHI partnered with GattiHR to help IPHI recruit hundreds of pandemic response public health workers to aid Fairfax County’s strenuous efforts. Using its proprietary platform, TalentBoost, GattiHR successfully sourced, recruited and assessed hundreds of dependable contact tracing candidates.

“I had heard that GattiHR had been instrumental in helping a non-profit called Partners In Health to recruit a thousand contact tracers in Massachusetts,” Rhein said. “After speaking with the TalentBoost team, I was immediately confident this was a challenge we could rise to together by coupling IPHI’s public health expertise with GattiHR’s recruiting model and capabilities. IPHI had capabilities in training, employing and supporting public health workers, but what we lacked at the time was the ability to rapidly scale that.”

Here are four ways GattiHR, using its industry-leading TalentBoost HR platform, partnered with IPHI to save lives in Fairfax County.

They Provided High Volume, High Velocity Recruiting

Using a combination of insight, skills and experience, GattiHR used its high-velocity recruitment engine team at TalentBoost to quickly assemble an army of ready-to-deploy candidates, impressing both IPHI as well as the Fairfax County Department of Health.

“Within a week, we had 25 people, then 120 in a month and 200 in two months,” Rhein said. “By October, we had more than 400 and 500 by January.”

By the end of January 2021, he said, TalentBoost had helped IPHI and Fairfax County recruit, train and employ more than 640 total staffers.   Later, in fall 2021, TalentBoost quickly restarted its efforts to recruit staffers to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 due to the Delta variant.

They Modernized Hiring, Onboarding With Technology

“If you’re going to hire people at this volume this quickly, you can’t do it with a traditional recruiting and staffing process,” Rhein said. “You have to have tools and systems in place to recruit and screen both fast and dependably.”

TalentBoost used a mix of modern technology, workforce analytics and meaningful relationships to filter thousands of applications and “zero in” on the well-positioned recruits IPHI urgently needed, helping the organization expand and create its new winning team of contact tracers faster.

They Made Sure All Hires Shared the Same Characteristics

“Contact tracing is a painstaking, tedious, investigative-intensive type of work, one that requires excellent communication skills,” TalentBoost CEO Tom Connolly said. “Contact tracers must be empathetic and compassionate. But they must also be incredibly thorough, perseverant and clinically dispassionate.”

“When everything started, they would say, ‘Here’s are 25 candidates that we recommend you hire this week,’ and we would take a close look and decided,” Rhein said. “As the new recruits worked out well and the need for staff accelerated, we became increasingly dependent upon and confident in  TalentBoost’s formula and process.’”

The combined capacity of IPHI and TalentBoost was so effective it caught the eye of the Virginia Department of Health, which was seeking to better support the state’s other local health districts.  Now IPHI and TalentBoost are supplying pandemic response workers to 22 local health departments across Virginia.

They Played a Backoffice, HR Support Role

The TalentBoost team did more than recruit a long string of successful candidates who turned out to be superior contact tracers. They also fast-tracked much of the initial onboarding work of an entire human resources department.

“We implemented a hybrid HR strategy where we hired some staff of our own, including an HR manager, but many of the key onboarding tasks that a human resources department normally does, TalentBoost helped us with, which really enabled us to scale,” Rhein said.

That, he added, included all initial communication with the candidates, background checks, offer letters, and initial screenings.

“One week, we had some 75 new employees. That would normally be a lot of work for an HR team, but it was all done for us, uploaded onto our system by TalentBoost, without us having to do much beyond approve candidates for hire,” Rhein said. “It was that easy.”

The training delivery was also easier, courtesy of TalentBoost University, a fully functional learning management system offered by TalentBoost that offers 2,600-plus courses, plus the option to add your own. In IPHI’s case, the platform housed training resources, provided access to IPHI’s custom live training and facilitated course evaluation.

“We went from having around 20 employees to more than 500,” Rhein said. “There is no way this would have worked as well or gone as smoothly had we worked with another recruiting agency.”

He added: “It was the perfect partnership, one that allowed us to support so many health departments throughout Virginia. The feedback from Fairfax County Health Department and other health districts has been very positive. With TalentBoost, we gave all these health departments the workforce they needed so that they could focus on the important public health work at hand during an exceedingly tough time.”