At the end of September, CVS Health launched a recruitment drive to hire an additional 25,000 employees into its pharmacy outlets to support its flu and COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. CVS Health’s retail stores employ more than 200,000 people currently.
Having more hands-on deck quickly is particularly important as CVS Health gears up to provide COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to the over 65s and other at-risk individuals. This comes as boosters have now been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CVS Health’s vice-president of talent acquisition Jeffrey Lackey tells UNLEASH: “These 25,000 workers will help give our teams a cushion and a break.
“We have got to have enough staff there to take on this additional work. It is an amazing and exciting time, but also very challenging.”
Deep dive into CVS Health’s recruitment strategy
But how is CVS Health going to successfully recruit this quantity of workers and quickly?
While CVS Health has worked hard during the pandemic to make investments in compensation and benefits for its existing employees to drive both talent attraction and retention, “the thing that separates out CVS from other organizations is that colleagues have a passion for they do”, according to Lackey.
He adds: “We treasure the fact that we have people that care deeply about our patients, customers and members.”
“We hire on purpose and values. We want people who resonate with our purpose and who reflect our values, culture and work behaviors.
“We want people who are going to build and grow the culture to make it every better than it was yesterday,” explains Lackey. The company’s culture centers around “working on behalf of the healthcare of every person and every patient.”
Linked to this, Lackey is very proud of the work CVS Health did during the pandemic to keep those being laid off and furloughed by other companies with similar missions in other sectors in work.
He explains that CVS Health worked with organizations like Gap, American Airlines, and Hilton who were particularly hard hit by the pandemic and associated lockdown restrictions to share job opportunities with their laid off or furloughed employees at CVS Health.
“Also, we said to the organizations that when they started to rehire, then we will notify all those people and let them know you’re rehiring and share a marketing piece”, notes Lackey.
“Not all organizations asked for that, but it was an open offer because it was a collaboration and partnership that was in the best interest of the employee who needed to make a living wage to pay their bills.”
Spotlight on innovation
Another core element of CVS Health’s hiring strategy is innovation. The company has a culture of innovation and this centers around its virtual recruitment platform: Virtual Job Tryout. This is, according to Lackey, “a highly validated and award-winning tool” that CVS Health has built and developed with Modern Hire.
CVS Health believes it provides a good experience for candidates primarily because “they also get a realistic job preview”, which gives them a “taste of what the job is going to be like so they can say for themselves do I want this or do I not want this type of job”. Lackey adds: “I think that is important; the interview is about assessing the person, but also allowing them the opportunity to discover if this the job they want.”
While CVS Health has been using Virtual Job Tryout for many years, it is not refined to such an extent that “we felt as though we could use this as our selection device by itself without [an in-person] interview”, according to Lackey.
In addition, Lackey explains that CVS Health relies on a range of technology, including robotics and AI, to help with onboarding.
He notes that the art of scheduling onboarding and orientation days is “exceptionally difficult”, especially at scale.
“We have a chatbot sitting in the background that helps to manage all those schedules and iterations with the candidates so it is very seamless and user friendly for both the candidate” and CVS recruiters.
Lackey adds: “We also have a combination of virtual and in-person new colleague orientation depending on the types of roles.
“We have an entire organization that is deployed to make sure that we get quality onboarding and quality training to our colleagues whether they are going to be a pharmacist, a retail store associate or any other person joining our organization.”
Therefore, it is clear that CVS Health has a culture of innovation. Lackey notes that “it takes a million innovations to be agile in face of the change we’re facing”, particularly at the moment in the pandemic.
However, Lackey emphasizes: “Innovation isn’t something that happens once. It has got to be constantly happening and it has to be with a workforce that cares.”
So CVS Health will not rest on its laurels with the HR tech it currently relies upon, it will continue to innovate to retain candidate experiences in the future of work.
Vaccine mandates and CVS
A major workplace trend during the current phase of the pandemic is vaccine mandates. This is because although vaccines are widely available in the Western world, COVID-19 cases are surging due to the new Delta variant and vaccine uptake has been slow in some places.
CVS Health joined the likes of airlines, tech giants, and the Washington Post in implementing a vaccine mandate.
Its policy is: “All employees are required to wear a mask or face covering while at any of our work sites, regardless of location or vaccination status.
“CVS Health is also requiring certain employees who interact with patients to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by October 31, 2021, with retail pharmacists by November 30, 2021.
“New hires in the same roles must have received their first COVID-19 vaccine prior to their first day of employment.”
Lackey doesn’t think vaccine mandates will affect CVS Health’s ability to hire these 25,000 pharmacy workers or other employees in the near future, despite the highly competitive war for talent.
“The simple answer is that being a healthcare provider, our real mission is to service patients and customers and our members. We made this change in our vaccine policy to allow us to continue to protect our patients, customers, members, as well as our colleagues. It is for all their sakes that we’re doing this.”, Lackey notes.
He concludes: “There are a lot of people who are very supportive – we’ve had a lot of positive reaction from it because people realize what the spirit is behind what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”