In this episode, I talk with Sejal Shah, the CEO of TotalMed Staffing. We discussed the challenges of remote recruiting, listening to your candidates, and his hopes for the future of healthcare staffing.

Delohery: Okay. Hi and welcome to The Staffing Show. We’re here with Sejal Shah, the CEO of TotalMed. Thanks so much for joining us today, Sejal.

Shah: Hey, thanks for having me. 

Delohery: I just wanted to jump right in and start with what’s on so many people’s minds right now and talk a little bit about the pandemic, especially because TotalMed is a healthcare staffing firm, and you’re working with a lot of health care pros who are maybe on the front lines, or really close to what’s going on. And so, I was wondering, how has your business changed in light of the pandemic over these past six months? 

Shah: It’s really interesting. It’s changed. I should say, not only has it changed in so many ways, really more, it’s just, we’ve experienced so many new things that we haven’t quite experienced before. And I think the change that came about from all of those new experiences were just new perspectives on what could and what could happen, what we can do, what our organization was very good at, and what were our areas of improvement. 

I guess I’m answering it a little bit differently than what you’re asking. But just to jump into it, I think the first obvious thing was employees working remote. We had, pretty much, I would say, 80 to 90% of the technology set up to allow us to do that across all departments. But there’s always that 10 to 20, where you’re working on things that you just hadn’t predicted. But the second piece of it was just how. There are different challenges when you have a remote workforce versus now.

And there is a segment of the workforce that they have a hard time working remote, whether it be distractions, whether it be the lack of having people around you to keep you focused. Sometimes I think people struggle with separating that personal couch TV time with, I need to sit down and focus and get my work done. And I’m saying there’s a segment. I’m not saying all or none,. I’m just saying there’s different segments of people and how they react. So working through all of those nuances, but the other component was how to manage remotely. 

Now you’ve got people, some people who just gravitated and excelled in that environment, and then you’ve got other people who didn’t? And how do you try to help get them into that same mindset or same space. So I think that was a lot of the challenges. And what you’re going to see when we open back up, and we get everybody back in. Right now we’re just voluntary work from home. We have enough space where if somebody needs to come in the office they can. The option is there, all the systems, everything is set up, and there’s proper social distancing, hand sanitizer, masks, etc. 

So, it’s a very safe environment. But it’s voluntary. Meaning, it’s voluntary work from home. If you want to work from home because of whatever, that’s fine. We’ll still support it. But as a company, you have to very much make sure that people still understand what those KPIs as well as a productivity is. And that’s, I think, the hard part sometimes in getting people … Figuring out how to get people into that zone, for lack of other words.

Delohery: What has been helpful for you guys in bridging that gap or keeping that? Because I know that TotalMed has a really tight culture, and you guys are really close. You have a really good work environment. So, how have you kept that closeness remotely? I’m sure it’s been a challenge. 

Shah: Yeah. Frankly, it’s been tough. It’s been tough. We’ve tried to tell managers to keep the same cadence. So, let’s say you have a morning huddle — still do your morning huddle.  Have people keep their cameras on so that they’re engaged. You know what I mean? Stuff like that. We’ve tried some … We’ve empowered departments to do a social hour. Consider it like a happy hour, and you can play different types of games online via Zoom with each other, get to know each other.

Early on, when the weather was cold, we were doing a lot of that. I think when the weather got warmer, people want to postpone and enjoy the good weather all this time. 

Delohery: All of it, yeah.

Shah: But I think it’s like everything else. There is this component where it’s just tougher. It really is. And honestly, I think when this goes back, I think a big segment of the office will come back. I have this feeling, because they really do miss that piece of it, but we’ll see. It is tougher. It’s absolutely tougher. 

Delohery: Yeah, and it seems to be tougher the longer it goes on. I think that there was a kind of optimism that held us through for a while. And now I think a lot of people are really just feeling it, still happening, still going on.

Shah: Well, it’s interesting, you said the culture, right? Typically, the culture that we build, it’s really based off of core values. So it’s not like we say, “Okay, our culture is ping pong tables and all that stuff.” Now, what we’re doing is, we’re looking to find people that have these four characteristics inherently. It’s not something to aspire to. We try to find people with those four characteristics inherently. And if we can get enough people in a room together with those characteristics, that’s what creates your culture. And so, that’s been the tough part is now looking and seeing that and saying, “Now that we have this remote workforce, before there was this big group of people together that shared the same core values, who create this great work environment. And now everybody’s spread apart.” So where is that energy of the masses?

And in our business, staffing business specifically, it’s known for that. We’ve all had remote workforces. We’ve always had some, for instance, some recruiters that work remotely, but that was more of the few than the many. And now we’re switching to the money versus the few. So it’ll be an interesting adjustment to see how does this culture adjust? Maybe we start to figure out quicker, more quickly, because you hire people initially based upon thinking they have these core values. And then over time, you start to realize, “Well, maybe these aren’t more inherent to who they are.”

And maybe this remote work environment might expose that even quicker, or in a different way.

Like one of our core values is internally driven. And everybody tells you in an interview. You try to do it through interviewing and screening and references and stories to find out this person truly internally driven? Then you’re in the office, and you’ve got this kind of energy of the masses that can help you, right? Well, what happens when you’re sitting there by yourself in your home? 

Delohery: That’s when you find out if you’re actually internally driven or maybe just alone.

Shah: Exactly. And it’s not a good or bad thing. I’m just saying, it helps to go show. And now, if you’re not, what do you need to do to get there? What are you going to do about it? Where is your drive to address that? And if you don’t have the drive to address that, well, then you’re not built for remote. Or we’re not the right organization for you. It’s just the reality. It’s an interesting challenge that we’re dealing with right now in trying to figure that out. 

Delohery: And how has it been for your travel nurses, and what have you guys done to replicate that culture or keep them in the foot. Because they’ve always been in a sense remote or at least remote from your recruiting team. So they’re always out in the field. But now they’re facing this pandemic. So many of your nurses are on the front lines. What has it been like working from that perspective? 

Shah: I can’t even imagine the type of stress and what they’re having to deal with. But one of the things that we’ve always prided ourselves on is that relationship, that customer service. And so, our recruiters, we actually measuring engagement, not only internally, but with nurses. And part of that means, what is the connection that recruiter has with that nurse? How are they helping to be there in whatever fashion they can? 

Sometimes it’s as simple as just listening. You’re having a bad day, and somebody wants to vent, and you’re just there to listen. And sometimes it’s about finding ways to help. And so, I guess it’s one of those things that I think it’s that’s inherent to us being in this space. It’s something we’ve always done. And so, I just don’t know if that has changed as much. I would just be probably more on top.

Delohery: I guess even before the pandemic, your nurses were often facing life or death situations, or stressful situations. It’s part of why people admire nurses so much as they’re on the front lines all the time even when there’s not a global pandemic going on. So in order to be a healthcare staffing firm that has people who feel like their family, I guess you’ve always had to do that.

Shah: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Look, you got to figure that there is not only the physical toll of the job, but there is a mental toll on the job. And the pandemic is like that pressure cooker you mentioned earlier. And so, it’s even more difficult. And so, the nice thing is that, when you think about it, you hire the right people, they hire the right recruiters. You hire the right teams, and inherently, that’s part of it, is taking care of the nurse, taking care of the people that are out there.

And so, I’d like to think that we do a really good job of that. And it’s paramount to who we are. In fact, we actually measure and incentivize people on our recruiters and our staff, our internal team on the service. And so, when those ratings aren’t there, or when when we don’t see that level, we’re not only all over it, but it’s part of the training and development for our team to say, this is not a negotiable. 

Delohery: I’ve long gotten the sense that you guys, as a community is really important and that you build not just an agency but a community. There’s been so much discussion in the industry lately around diversity and inclusion. And it seems to me that that is part of the your definition of community and fostering community. But I wonder, from your experience, how has the industry changed in its relationship to diversity and inclusion in the past six months or so now that it’s been such a top of mind issue?

Shah: We’re a minority-owned organization, obviously. So, yes, we are, and I think our hiring process is in such a way where we’re looking for the right people, regardless of any race, color, creed, whatever the case may be. I would say that we have a pretty diverse workforce. And frankly, in some of our office, yes, and other offices there could be more. I think  the last six months, what what’s really came about from all of this is that you can always do more, and it’s often easy to get into a, well, everything’s all right, into a comfortable zone, so to speak. You know what I mean?

Delohery: Yeah, the status quo.

Shah: The status quo, right. And I think in the last six months, it’s definitely caused us to say, “Okay, hold on. Let’s be more forward and more proactive with it.” And so, we actually created a … I can’t take all the credit for it, but I can’t take any of the credit to be honest, just other than the fact that I was excited to see when you talk about having internally driven people, a group of people got together and said, “Let’s create a diversity inclusion committee.” And part of that committee was to really continue the conversation, And to use different learnings from different approaches and say, “Hey, let’s talk to everybody about what this means. What’s going on? Let’s try to create a safer environment for people to say what they’re thinking, to ask those uncomfortable questions.”

It’s unfortunate right now I feel like it’s a very tough time to talk because there is this big movement towards suppression of speech. And a lot of people have questions, but they’re afraid to ask, because they’re afraid to be condemned. How dare you ask that question? 

Shah: I got to tell you … Yeah, yeah. But that’s the thing, is that it’s all different approaches. Every organization, every person, every team, whatever the case may be, has a choice on how do they want to approach this. I went against the convention, and I was excited to see that I had a committee of people that volunteered, that felt the same way and wanted to push that agenda. And that’s why I can’t take the credit for it. It’s just how I felt. And then I got lucky that I had a committee of people that felt the same way. 

And they’re like … I remember when we were on-boarded here, and we have a five dysfunctions of a team training session. And through that process it was a very valuable, what we learned about each other, and how it made us a better team. And they said, “Could we take some of those principles and help promote conversation across the entire organization?” And it’s not done in one big group. It’s done in small groups. We started with the top, and then we worked our way to the different teams. It’s still in progress, but it’s something we’re trying. Right?

Delohery: Yeah. 

Shah: Trust me. For every three people or four people that applaud you for that, there’s going to be one or two people who say, “This is wrong. You shouldn’t be doing it.” It not your job to teach someone or this or that. And you know what? I don’t want to take that attitude. We have choices. And if I get condemned or slammed for it, so be it. I feel comfortable. I have questions. Everybody has questions, and I’m not looking to sit around and teach everybody everything. What I’m trying to do is create comfortable zones for you to ask those questions. And thankfully, we have a ton of people who are willing to talk about it. 

It sounds like you built a culture in which that’s possible, and I think that a lot of organizations are struggling because they don’t have a culture built in which it feels even safe to ask these questions or to take the initiative to start these committees. So I feel like you’ve checked that first box, which is so essential of creating a culture in which it’s possible to ask tough questions.

I have a lot of peers who have great cultures. And it’s interesting, many of them want to just avoid it. And when I ask them about that, why do you want to avoid it? And they’re like, “I’m opening up exposure to being slammed. Are you seeing what’s happening out there every day today?” You say one thing wrong, and it could hurt your business. People are afraid to really have real conversations because there is this movement towards, I don’t know why. I just don’t know why. Well, how did this happen? When did this happen? 

And so, I talked to a lot of my peers, and I tell them, “Well, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know what to say, because it is a tough time.” I mean, you’ve spent your entire life building something, and, God forbid somebody says, or asks the wrong question and how that could do it. But this is where I just said, sometimes, if you build the right team and the right organization, at least, they’ll know where you’re coming from. And that’s the only impact that you can really make sometimes. A buddy of mine explained to me, because at first I wasn’t even sure. 

And he told me, he goes, “Here’s the difference, you have a platform. You have all of these employees that believe in you. And then most of them know you. They know the type of person and your intent. So by you taking that step, and opening that up, versus some just canned statement, right?”

You opening up that conversation, there’s going to be a seven of those people that you might actually change. Or you might get them to just see something else that they don’t see. And if you can do that, that’s a win. That’s what it means to use your platform. So, he actually motivated me to have that company-wide conversation to kick it off. I’m so glad I did it. Don’t get me wrong. I had people call me and slam me for how I delivered it. But it was me. It was considering what I felt, and it is what it is? 

Delohery: I think you’ve laid out really eloquently what  the spheres in which people can make a difference right now, it’s not necessarily a social media blast for these kinds of conversations. It’s right in your home. It’s right in your organization. It’s right where you are. So I think that’s the most relevant. I said, a lot of people think they have to make a big statement, and it’s really small conversations where changes made, I think. 

Shah: Right. 

Delohery: You’ve given us a little insight into this already, but how would you describe your leadership style with your team?

Shah: It’s interesting. I’m a big fan of empowering and collaboration, and giving everybody an opportunity to say their piece. And I know sometimes that can come off like leading by consensus, which, it’s absolutely the farthest from. I’m actually not leading by consensus. And I know sometimes, even some people in own organization feel that way. The truth of the matter is that, I believe that when we bring people into this organization, we have an opportunity to develop them, not only with their specific skill sets, but professionally develop them and bring more content to them, more capabilities, more experiences and whatnot. 

And part of that is also an opportunity for them to really be more accountable and learn from decisions they make. And so, there are many times where we’ll be processing issues. And I’m confident that in 95% of the cases, the team will go through their process to come to a decision that I would have normally made, anyways. 

But now by them going through that process and making that decision, they own it. They buy into it. They’re passionate about executing on it, which then increases your likelihood of success. And even if it’s not a perfect plan or the best plan, I’ve seen situations where there were approaches or plans that I knew were probably somewhat flawed, but because they were executed with passion and accountability. I see more of those come to success and fruition than the other.

So, here’s the reality of it. Even when you go down a path, and there’s mistakes, there’s a reality that if the team owns it, they will learn from it, adjust to it. Now, guess what? The second time they’re going to now be involved in another decision, they’re going to go to and say, “How do I make sure not to mess this up?” Or how could I have uncovered this from the beginning? And so, there’s a certain development that comes to that. 

By the way, I will tell you, I’ve gone on a huge journey. Because when you first start the business, you are just all but every decision you live and die on. And part of growing as a leader is sometimes learning how to “Let go.” And what that means to patients, would that mean sometimes eating those mistakes? But then making sure that we evolve from there. And the truth of the matter in the long run, there rarely are mistakes that let’s just say crushes you, so to speak. 

You’re going to make mistakes that can be costly. But you should always be able to overcome those. And so, you’re teaching teams to not only be accountable and passionate, and not only are you increasing high probabilities of execution, but you’re also I think teaching resiliency and being able to think. I know we have meetings, and we follow EOS, and it’s an actual operating system. And it’s nice because it gives us some structure. And it’s a process for us to start to get managers to go down the same evolution. I don’t know if that answers your question.

Delohery: Totally. And I wanted to pick up on this thread about the value of mistakes and the real sandbox for learning that these mistakes can be. Do you have a failure or an apparent failure that you feel like set you up for later success? 

Shah: Oh, man, geez. How many, right? How many are they? So many. Look, let me start by saying one thing here. Here’s the interesting piece. If I tell somebody, this is what you need to do, and how you do it, and then if it doesn’t work out, many times they’ll say, “Well, I did what you told me to, and it didn’t work.” But if you turn around and you say, “Here’s the situation you haven’t dealt with. What do you think?” And then you just stack. And you can ask three good questions around them to really get them to think through the solution. Like I said, 90% of the time, they’re probably going to be very similar to what you would have said, or they’ll come up with something new and unique that you hadn’t thought of.

Now, here’s the reality of it, if it doesn’t work out, they’re not going to sit there and say, “Hey, it’s your fault.” Most of the time, they’re going to say, “Man, this didn’t work out. But here’s something else I learned in the process. I’m going to try this. What do you think?” “Give it a shot.” You know what I’m saying?

 Yeah, absolutely.

Shah: But it’s so hard. So when you talk about what are some of those mistakes, I think one I alluded to earlier in the beginning, I was so military style over every single decision in the organization. I don’t know if that was a mistake. It took time to learn and evolve from there, because when you first start out, every dime is so important.

And you don’t even know if you’re going to have a business. Yeah, every decision, exactly. You don’t even know if you’re going to have a business six months from now or a year from now or two years from now. You just have hope. You have hope and belief in yourself and the people that you bring together. And so, I think that there is that balance. And as you start to grow, the hardest part is all those people that you grew with realizing that they’ve grown as well, and it’s okay to let go and trust them to make decisions. And then when they make mistakes, try not to eat their lunch.

Delohery: You’re right. 

Shah: It’s hard. That’s an evolution. We all evolve professionally, and we all develop professionally, and that was part of it. And so, that’s probably one of the biggest things I look at in hindsight and go, “Man, I wish I could have done that a little differently in some of those cases.”

Delohery: Well, maybe this next question is related then, maybe not. So in the past five years, or let’s say, I guess, 13 years since you’ve been CEO of TotalMed, is there a belief or behavior or habit that you feel like has most improved your life? Or one of them, so to speak?

Shah: Yeah, it’s hard to say what’s the best or the most. I can tell you there’s a bunch. Here’s a bunch, and it seems like every day there’s another one. But I would say that just getting perspective on, if I had to pick a saying, it’s called don’t sweat the small stuff, or whatnot. But just just that perspective that it’s not the end of the world, you know what I mean?

A mistake was made, it’s just not the end of the world. Listen, we’re going to be fine. We’re going to figure this out. We’re going to move forward. In the long run, this will just be a blip. Right now, it’s the biggest thing. This thing, it’s like the biggest chaotic thing that’s happening at this very moment. But if you can get that perspective that, “Hey, five years from now, 10 years from now, this will just be a little blip. This will be a great story.” And you’ll have learned something from it. Maybe you’ll be laughing about it, or you’ll be talking about it over a beer. 

And remember when and how we overcame that. And, man. You’re going to remember the people that helped you get through it. But I would say that’s probably one of the things that’s been most important to me especially in the last, I would say, three years, two to three years. It’s been one of the things. I catch myself getting into those, let’s just call it where I feel like I’m going to be blowing something way out of proportion. Or I catch myself getting, whether it’s angry, or whatever the case may be. And then I just have to pause and tell myself, “Hold on, hold on.” And don’t get me wrong. It’s not that easy. It’s like a roller coaster of emotions. 

So I’ll be on one opposite end, and then I’ll try, I’ll be like, “Well, hold on, hold on.” This is remembering the whole scheme of things. Hopefully, this is just a little blip. Don’t worry. I’ll be good for about four days, and then it’s rear its ugly head again, and be like, “What?”

What I mean is just this roller coaster of emotion. And then you get like, I don’t know, maybe 30, 60 days into it, and then you’re fine. And this was for a major issue. So that’s what I’m talking about. It’s that piece of it where I don’t want to make it sound like it’s easy. It’s literally an emotional roller coaster battle that I’m having to turn in my head all the time. And it’s this trying to get some sense or someone’s or balance realize there’s bigger things in life to sweat about. 

Delohery: And also, that may be these things that seem so difficult or a failure or whatever, actually might turn out in unexpected ways to be better than your plan or better than you expected, or take you somewhere you didn’t expect. 

Shah: Absolutely.

Delohery: I’ve tried to do that in my own life too, to not sweat things so much. And then, I realized, I think I know what’s going to happen, but certainly didn’t expect there to be a global pandemic this year. I had much different plans for 2020. It’s kind of a roller coaster.

Shah: If there’s one year that’s … And in my lifetime, I should say … I shouldn’t say in everybody’s lifetime, but in my, let’s call it my adult lifetime, the one thing that this pandemic has done, is it’s given us a test of our resiliency, right?

And our ability to overcome, adapt and overcome. And it comes in all forms. And it’s also giving you an opportunity to take a look at your team and see who rose up to that occasion and who didn’t, and where is their opportunities for development or betterment, because it could be something else tomorrow. It could be any anything tomorrow. So, this is one of those fire drills that actually occurred, and you got a chance to see how well did everybody, how quickly did everybody get out of building and how efficiently and effectively, and you know what I mean?

You learn a lot from that, and you just hope to say, “Okay. Well, how could we have done this better?” There’s time for that? And that’s the whole thing, like I said, if you’re going down this path. It’s a journey. Everybody says building a business is a journey, it’s not just the end outcome. When it’s all said and done, it’s like, you know how you always hear those football players who retired and they say, “The winds and all that was great. But the time that I missed the most was being in that huddle, being with those players.” I think in business or when you’re running a business, it’s a lot of the same stuff, right?

You start to think about, “Man. That journey, the people that we went through in business with.” Don’t get me wrong, and I’ll come into scoreboard matters. It does matter, but it’s that journey that you tend to remember the most. 

Delohery: And maybe this is related. I mean, you’ve spoken to this a lot already. But what do you think firms and the industry can do to strengthen themselves as the pandemic continues?

Shah: Well, I think from a tactical standpoint, just some of the basic things is re-look at your business, and start thinking about how can you do … How do you do it remotely, how do you train and develop and hire remotely? Do you have the technologies and the tools to enable that? Do you have the processes? That’s just from a tactical standpoint. But I think also from a strategic standpoint, everybody needs to be taking a look at, “Okay. What could I have done differently? Did I dive deep enough into my customer base to figure out what pains? If they didn’t need this specific modality of staffing, they still had other pains. Did I really know my customers well enough to ask those questions? Did I know my customers well enough to look under and say, is there any other way I can add value or help you guys through this time period?’

And that’s something that I think was exposed for us is that in some cases, we had good sales people or account managers that had great relationships that were on top of that, and in other areas, I found that they weren’t. They were doing a good job of processing orders and whatnot. But were they asking those questions? Or were they even comfortable to ask those questions? 

And so, those are opportunities to take a look at, and there might be some training and development around that. There might be opportunities to say, “Could we have pivoted into other areas that are our approach and skill sets that we have could still help. And so, I think, for lack of a better word, I think that there’s something there and just taking the time to really go through that and process that as a team could be valuable. I hope that answers your question. 

Delohery: No, that definitely does. And I was just thinking that, is another way that you’re pointing out how the pandemic has exposed simultaneously exposed weaknesses or areas that need to be improved or grown and really given so much opportunity for resilience and creative solutions, problem-solving on the fly, which is, it’s stressful and exciting. And it seems like you’re pointing out new ways that staffing from can think on their feet, and really anticipate client need, which has probably always been a good thing to have, and are extremely valuable, but not … The pandemic’s forced your hand in this way. And in a way that seems like it could lead to positive growth.

Shah: Too often we might get comfortable in the status quo. And it’s hard when everything is going as planned, or good enough to sit there and start thinking outside the box, or to think like this. Looking at how your team reacted during this period of time might be able to give you a pulse on areas that you need to develop or focus.

Delohery: Yeah, yeah. This may be tricky to answer it, because no one really knows. But from where you sit, where do you see the staffing industry headed in the next couple of years? 

Shah: In what terms? In just the industry as a whole? 

Delohery: Yeah. How do you see the industry recovering and responding to, I guess, to get more specific, of post-pandemic world? How do you think that the pandemic is going to change the industry when we’re on the other side of it?

Shah: Well, first of all, I feel that when you take a look at what’s happened, typically, when you go through things like this, whether it be the … a weight, when we had to crash at that time, or something like this happening. I think the government’s been pumping a lot of money to try to put the stimulus back into the economy. And so, I think what you’re going to see is, I think you’re going to see it, obviously come back, right? I actually think that within the next cycle. And we’ve been in a prolonged one. 

For the last, probably four years, I’ve been waiting for recession. They’re all telling you, “Well, we’re due for a recession.” But then you’re like, “Well, when’s it coming?” And so, there’s been this, keep taking steps forward but wait for it to happen. And so, it’s been interesting, and now we’re there. The pandemic got us there. And the question is, how long is it going to last? I would maybe say, I can’t predict this, but looking at how much money is being pumped back in, and some of the things that are being done, I would it could be anywhere from six months to three years that we’re back out. That’s a pretty big range. 

But I’m actually leaning more towards that less than two year mark. But that being said, for staffing. They’re going to recover much quicker because … and this is just logic, and just some of the patterns I’ve seen is that, in a slowdown, people tend to want to use more temporary staff than permanent, because they want the flexibility to flex their staff up and down. And so, you tend to see the staffing. You’re going to see a little bit. You’re going to see a jump in that especially in some different sectors. You know what I mean? 

I personally feel that staffing is going to come out of this, and it’s like everything else. If you take a look at what happened to staffing, in a way, and when they started coming back out, I think it’s going to be similar, just not as bad. But we’re going to come out as quickly. 

Delohery: SIA released some data recently that support the hypothesis.

Shah: Oh, really?

Delohery: Yeah.

Shah: Oh, good. 

Delohery: They suggest that the industry is going to be up by 12% next year. You’re backed by the crowd. 

Shah: Hopefully. Well, and here’s the other thing that’s coming out of it right. It’s definitely going to push a ton of companies to re-look at their infrastructure, their technology infrastructure. And re-look at a lot of things to say, how could I have done this? What if this happens again? Right?

Shah: It’s like there’s this yo-yo effect, too. So here you go, we just had this pandemic. The next time somebody gets sick somewhere again. There could be a little bit of like, oh no, it’s happening again. You’re going to see, I think this this, is there going to be this volatility that’s going to continue until we become comfortable again and forget, so to speak. Forget’s the wrong word, but become comfortable with the status quo, as we use the word earlier. And so, is that volatility of our reactions, is that going to last for one year? Three years? I don’t know. 

But knowing that, if you feel that that’s going to happen, what are the steps that you can take to help prepare? There are things that you can do to position your company that, as you go through this volatility, or if say, we go through another scare where we shut down the economy, or whatever we do, what can you continue to do to support and provide opportunity for your employees? 

Delohery: That seems to go back to really focusing on your sphere of influence and what you can do for the people in your organization, the people closest to you, rather than sinking too broadly. No one in the staffing industry can tackle the pandemic. But they can certainly grow an agile team that can respond to a highly fluctuating market. 

Shah: Yeah.

Delohery: What are you looking forward to for TotalMed in the coming quarters? 

Shah: Well, you just don’t know. Theoretically, this is our busy season Q4. There is typically what we call a flu season. Flu season is one of the big drivers in the fourth quarter for increased demand, increased healthcare demand. And so, you got to figure that … I think initially when we have the shutdown, the first narrative was, “Hey, shut down so healthcare can catch up to support the increase in demand.” I don’t know the narrative has changed. And now it looks like it’s coming back to that narrative, but I’m not exactly sure. 

I think there’s so many theories out there of what could happen or what’s going to happen. There’s questions about a second wave. Are we going to see a second wave that’s compounded by the flu season? We’re just preparing. Right now in healthcare we’ve seen numbers at the high end. I mean, obviously, not only have we seen numbers at the high end for pandemic-related needs, but we’ve seen a lot of those what they refer to as non-essential needs. We’ve seen all of those open back up in hospitals as well. So this has been good. Now the question is, what happens, which There probably will be a second wave flare up. I’m assuming people are expecting it. 

They talked about it back in March and April, so are we prepared for it? What are we going to do? I think now we know more about COVID and we know more about the disease, and we’ve seen it in different settings. And it’s interesting to take those learnings and be prepared for it in  the fourth quarter. So to answer your question in a very long winded way, which I just did was, I think that it’s going to be very busy in healthcare.

And so, I think we’re going to rebound here in the fourth quarter, and I think that this time hospitals are prepared. Will they still shut down all the non-essentials? I don’t know if they will. But I don’t know. I don’t own a hospital. I don’t work in a hospital, I don’t know. But just from what I’ve been reading and gathering, it feels like they feel much better. They’ve got the PPE now. They’re taking protective measures. They understand how this disease is transmitted, and they’re taking the appropriate precautions. But that’s a better question for a hospital CEO. 

Delohery: Yeah, but it sounds like at least that as an agency, and maybe as an industry too, staffing is ready if we see March 2.0 come around with a resurgence of the pandemic, we’re better prepared, which is a huge positive compared to where we were just six months ago that we can interpolate a little bit what this will be like.

Shah: And, and I know, I don’t know. I’ve read and heard that a lot of those mobile hospitals are still up and running or operational or can be spun back up very quickly. Hopefully … Like, I’m in Chicago. I know Cormac was originally going to be a 3000 bed hospital. I think they stopped at 2000. Now, I don’t know if they took it down. I think it’s still there. 

Shah: For instance if there’s a flare up, you’ve got a 2000 bed hospital ready.

Delohery: Right. But like I said, I haven’t paid attention, and I probably should. But hopefully, that we learned a lot from the first time around, so when it happens the second time, hopefully we’re prepared. 

Shah: Yeah, absolutely. I think we are. I hope we are.

Delohery: Well, Sejal, thank you so much for joining me today. This has been a wonderful conversation. I really enjoyed it. 

Shah: Yeah, thank you. I appreciate it.

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