We sat down with Tara Sprakel and Ryan Paulson from Fusion Medical Staffing to talk automation, the modern workforce, and why relationships are the cornerstone to great staffing.

StaffingHub:  We’re here in Nashville at the StaffingTec Conference talking to Tara Sprakel and Ryan Paulson from Fusion Medical Staffing. I just wanted to see how the conference has been for you guys so far.

Tara Sprakel: It’s been good so far. It’s been very relevant to a lot of conversations we’re having in the office right now and they’re addressing a lot of the challenges that we are facing.

Ryan Paulson: This is the second year that I’ve been here. I was lucky to go last year and it’s nice to see some new faces along with the familiar.

We continue to experience some of the same issues, and it’s nice to see that there are a lot of different solutions out there today. And the technology — I don’t want to say revolution — but you know the progress that this industry is having continues to be super exciting.

StaffingHub: And what are you most excited about in the solutions that you’re seeing today?

Ryan Paulson: A lot about the candidate experience. At Fusion, we talk a lot about our relationships, service, loyalty, and with that, we also talk about people, processes, and technology. And making sure we have the right people, the right processes.

We see a lot of ways that technology can facilitate and make sure that the candidates are having the best experience — not only with the just speaking with the recruiter but also understanding where there are opportunities across the entire country and how it best fits them.

Tara Sprakel: I think the culture piece that is so easy to cultivate internally is a little bit harder to communicate externally and so we’re trying to bring that internal culture out to the travelers and have them really feel like they’re a part of this Fusion family as we grow and scale.

And I’ve seen a lot of tools here who are making the recruiters more visible or bringing internal culture externally, and so that’s been kinda cool.

StaffingHub: Yeah. What are some things that you guys have been thinking a lot about in terms of the candidate experience?

Tara Sprakel:

I would say automation is top of mind for everybody right now. It’s just allowing the candidate to do as much as they want to and really own their own customer experience.

Ryan Paulson: I think mobile continues to be the focus for us also, especially with the candidate. Giving them the right tools so that they can basically manage their career from their phone because they are always on their feet, they’re always going to be working, they’re not going to be out in front of a desktop, maybe in front of a tablet.

And with that comes, especially in the medical staffing where we have folks working nights — of course we’re not staffed with our employees 24/7 — there’s a lot of technology that helps artificial intelligence, AI chatbots, those kinds of things.

StaffingHub: How do you balance this push for automation with Fusion’s very high-touch sort of caring staffing firm?

Tara Sprakel: Well, you just need to start with the low-value pieces and automate all of those through and then the recruiters can focus on the high value — building the relationships both candidate and client side and not worry about all the unnecessary work that bogs down their day.

Ryan Paulson: And I think we have a pretty good view internally of how we generate our ROI before we do a project. It’s not necessarily about finding efficiencies. It’s about finding those things, as Tara said, that can be automated.

But we’re not counting the hours that we’re saving.

Our goal is to give folks the opportunity to make more money and reduce their stress.

If we do that, everything works itself out.

You know, we talk about when you take care of the traveler, you take of our clients, and take care of the people inside of our corporate office, everything else works out.

I like how Tara talked earlier about our culture. We do look at all of our travelers from the lens of they are part of Fusion. They must meet our core values before they become a part of it. And it goes a long way having that great set of folks representing our brand.

StaffingHub: And what are your core values or what do you look for to build out in your culture?

Ryan Paulson: Our three core values are to be humble, have a positive attitude, and be driven.

StaffingHub: Can you talk a little bit about your background?

Ryan Paulson: Sure. I’ve done a number of things in my career. I spent thirteen years in e-commerce from somewhat of start-up mode all the way through acquisitions and ended up working for the largest company in the world. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people, was exposed to cutting edge technology throughout my entire career, which made coming to the staffing industry has been really exciting.

I would have to say the one thing that really surprised me was how collaborative everyone is in the industry. I had never seen that before and so that gives me a very optimistic look in the future.

I think as the industry grows, the amount of data, my experience with the high transaction, massive amounts of data, and the need for that data being turned into information almost real-time, is going to be very valuable for us.

StaffingHub: How do you meet that challenge of balancing processing all this real-time data and meeting candidates where they are culturally?

Tara Sprakel: This is a learning curve. We’re still exploring this daily. We just recently built an in-house tech team. We’re just recently started hiring people to specialize in data and really process it. I don’t think we realized the opportunity we had before us with the mass amounts of data that we had and now we can really break that down and use it in a meaningful way that will help give the candidates a better experience.

And so I think that that’s definitely something we are still working through and I think it sounds like the industry is still working through that as well.

StaffingHub: Yeah. What trends have bubbled to the top of your mind from this conference in terms of what’s coming next for staffing?

Ryan Paulson: There’s always this discussion around the efficiencies, but really: automated staffing. Taking out the need for recruiters is happening more it seems on the non-medical, around the industrial areas and things like that, but it applies to everybody and it is probably going to be the most difficult thing that we overcome in the near future.

We are a very high-touch agency. We do believe that the recruiters are our key for us to be building those relationships and getting the best folks that can provide care. So using technology to us is about meeting the needs of our candidate and our clients.

If we have travelers who want to do the job search on their own, then we should provide that functionality. If we have candidates who don’t want to do anything without talking to a recruiter first, we should provide that also. But no matter what path, we need to be providing our recruiters with the tools and the information they need so that they can quickly meet their needs.

Tara Sprakel: It’s funny that the buzz word here is the Uberization of staffing where ironically Uber has entered the market, so the verb and the competitor here. We see that all the time, more commonly in per diem right now, and like Ryan said, in other staffing segments. We don’t see this in healthcare because of all the intricacies of healthcare. Humans are providing a bedside manner to other humans so there has to be some sort of human interaction vetting them.

But, yeah, that’s kind of the big buzzword here. We’ll have to see how that’s coming to play here and what strategic moves our competitors in the industry are taking.

StaffingHub: It seems like one of the best strategic moves is just to remain true to your core, to remain true to your values.

Ryan Paulson: That’s exactly right.

The recruiters have a very simple litmus test after we’ve confirmed that they are meeting our core values and would be a good representative of Fusion.

Would we want this person to be taking care of our loved ones? And if the answer is “yes,” then most definitely they are going to be someone that we are going to have a relationship with.

StaffingHub: We talked a little before we started about your volunteer work and how that has changed your perspective on staffing. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Tara Sprakel: Yeah, Fusion has an extra strong emphasis on our community engagement, where we have a full-time employee who dedicates her whole day to that — making sure that everyone internally has the opportunity to volunteer in the community and make a difference.

That plays directly to the humble core value that we have to make sure everyone stays grounded and stays humble and knows how they can contribute to the greater good, which I think directly correlates to healthcare. Fusion’s purpose is to you know better the lives of everyone we touch, so I think this has been a really cool add that Fusion offers to its internal employees and we’re also trying to externalize that with our travelers as well.

StaffingHub: And what’s on the horizon for Fusion?

Tara Sprakel: Well, we’ve scaled at mass paces over the past five years. I think we’ll continue to scale as the market grows. Nursing jobs are predicted to increase another 6% this year in the travel nurse market. We’ll continue to grow, but also try and streamline some of those efficiencies, so we can hopefully be able to scale quickly without having to hire as many people to do some of the manual low-touch processes.

Ryan Paulson: I think what you’re going to see in short-term from Fusion is a real concentration on making sure that the people who are in the office or out in the field are taken care more than ever.

You know there’s a lot of things happening in technology, but there’s a lot of things happening in HR, specifically around a work-life balance. The Millennials seem to have a desire to have more vacation and maybe pay. You know the needs are changing depending on who you are, and we’re trying to become a better company. We want to meet the needs of the folks that work for us.

We want to be able to give the people a job where you don’t have anxiety on a Sunday to come in on work on a Monday.

You don’t have to leave our office to go workout or get a massage or do anything like that. Those are great perks, but you know what it comes down to is making sure that you’re comfortable and you don’t feel guilty that you’re taking your kids to school every morning.

And it goes a long way. We hold people accountable for them to do what they say they’re going to do — not do what we tell them to do. That’s a great environment and we’re going to continue getting better at it.

StaffingHub: Thank you guys so much. This has been a wonderful interview. It was great talking to you.

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