Tips for Recruiting and Hiring Community Health Workers as Employees2019-01-07T20:27:20+00:00

Tips for Recruiting & Hiring Promotores(as) and Community Health Workers as Employees

Community health worker outreach

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Create a simple screening form listing the required and recommended knowledge, skills, and abilities from the job description. If you check resumes or applications for the requirements right away, you can screen out a lot of applicants quickly and fairly. Leave space for notes on the screening form and use it to write things you want to remember later about each candidate.

Be
equitable and fair with all applicants, be aware of your rights as a hiring supervisor, and apply the same expectations and requirements to all applicants.

Take
your time with the process. Mistakes can be costly in both time and money and good candidates can be lost. Carefully project a timeline – then add a few days at various points based on possible bottlenecks. For example, reference checks should be quick, but time zones difference and schedules can cause delays. Even scheduling interviews can be more time consuming than expected based on the “back-and-forth” of requests, modifications, etc.Be patient, be focused, and do it right the first time.

K
eep information flowing to applicants about the status of the process. If candidates don’t meet the minimum criteria, let them know that right away through an e-mail or letter. It creates a favorable impression of the organization and helps you determine who is still an available candidate.

If the position requires a certain level of a given skill, consider testing to measure the level of skill the candidate has. (Sometimes people exaggerate their skill level in the interview process.) Check with your supervisor to see if a test already exists before creating one.

Every step in the hiring process should be documented. Ask your supervisor or the human resources department which documents you need to fill out (interview notes, screening checklists, communications with candidates, etc.), to whom they should be submitted, and where they should be filed.

Only hire if you have a good candidate. 
It is not fair to you, the applicant, or the organization to hire someone who is not qualified for the position. If you have no qualified candidates, revisit your steps and try to figure out what went wrong and fix it before re-starting a search.

Do not try to hire during a holiday season. 
Many people stop looking for jobs at this point due to family demands and even those who apply become hard to track down to schedule for interviews. Waiting a couple of weeks is more effective in the long run than failing a search and having to start it all over again.

Schedule and describe the new employee’s orientation in their letter of hire. 
It is important that employees understand their job, the organization, and expectations up front.

Retention

All programs lose staff or participants at one time or another. As a supervisor, you need to be aware of the challenges that your team is going through and how these challenges could impact their participation or performance and respond appropriately.  It can be time consuming and disruptive to have to hire or recruit new Promotores(as) but it is inevitable for most programs. Here are some common challenges that may lead Promotores(as) to eventually leave a program:

  • Lack of transportation
  • Lack of child care
  • Literacy levels
  • Language barriers
  • Feeling overwhelmed by paperwork
  • Long hours and feeling overwhelmed
  • Moving or leaving the area
  • Other employment opportunities

Being aware of these challenges and of Promotores(as) who are struggling to participate in the program and managing them as they arise can help you retain a strong core group. But it’s a good idea to also have an informal list of potential new candidates who could step in if necessary. These could be neighbors or other leaders in the community. If you supervise a seasonal program, look for former participants who are already familiar with the program and your organization.

Promotora interacting with participant

Recognition

For many organizations, the work of the Promotores(as) is essential to their ability to successfully reach their target community. At the same time, because their work is in the field and their hours may be non-traditional, they are not always well known within the organization and their efforts may go unrecognized. Here are some ideas for formalizing their roles and acknowledging their work:

  • T-shirts, hats, mugs, book bags, with the name of the program
  • Copies of the Manuals and reference books for the Promotor(a) to keep
  • Opportunities to attend or present at conferences
  • Scholarships or continuing education opportunities
  • Free or reduced-cost health care
  • Child care during training
  • Snacks or a meal during training
  • Incentives for completing objectives, such as gift certificates
  • Annual celebration or party
Community health worker and supermarket

Common Problems and How to Handle Them 

“I recruited eight Promotores(as), but then half of them quit.”

It’s not unusual for Program Coordinators to have to re-recruit. Some Coordinators of seasonal programs have had no one show up on the first day of training! After you have recruited a candidate, keep in touch until training starts. And keep your eyes open for back-up candidates.

“It’s mid-season, and we’re all feeling a little burned out.”

It’s important to pace yourself throughout the season. Know the limits of your time and energy.  Make sure you prioritize what’s most important. For less important things, ask someone else for  help, or do them later. You can set a good example for the Promotores(as), who also need to set limits about how much they can give to others and still be healthy themselves! Hold a training on this topic for them and make sure to discuss it during your supervision meetings. Often the Promotores(as) need some support in taking good care of themselves.

HRSA Disclaimer

This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $617,235 with 0 percent financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.

About MHP Salud 

MHP Salud has over thirty years of experience implementing CHW programs and training organizations looking to start and/or strengthen their own CHW programs. For more information about MHP Salud, our services, and how we can help you, please email us at info@mhpsalud.org

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