Jan 9, 2024 | Leadership Article

Cracking the Code: Finding, Hiring, and Maintaining Top Talent for SPD

1.    Learn how to overcome hiring obstacles. 
2.    Discuss interview practices to determine optimal candidates. 
3.    Learn how to keep employees engaged. 

One of the most current, urgent questions in sterile processing is where did all the sterile processing department (SPD) techs go? An unfortunately common theme emerging across the industry is that it’s becoming more urgent to find technicians and harder to find them. 

Some healthcare facilities are having to get creative about overcoming the challenges to finding and hiring the right people. Others have looked at better ways to keep those people in place once they’re hired. 



Want some tips on what to do to help your organization find, hire, and retain top candidates? Look no further.


Current Obstacles in Finding and Hiring SPD Techs


You’ve likely encountered challenges in even finding candidates who will apply to fill your position. Here are some ways you can address the current obstacles and potentially overcome them.

  • Work with HR to understand the position. Few people outside of SPD understand the job and its role. Meet with HR recruiters to talk about it. Have your team take charge of the pre-screening process and personally identify candidates with cross-functional skills that can excel in the role. 
  • Building a candidate pipeline. SPD technician roles are often entry-level positions competing with job opportunities that can offer higher pay. It’s generally a more physically demanding job than similarly skilled roles. To overcome this, connect with local colleges, attend job fairs at high schools and colleges, and collaborate with local organizations supporting military spouses or refugees. Get creative about where you’re sourcing potential candidates. 
  • Leverage relevant backgrounds. Not a lot of people have a background in SPD. So look at jobs with cross-over skills. Customer service roles are relevant, as are warehouse employees. 
  • Focus on job stability. A sterilization technician role requires a considerable investment in training and onboarding. It’s not worth it to have them leave right after they’ve been trained. Try to find candidates who can demonstrate some longevity to the role.  

Tips to Identify Tops Candidates in the Interview Process


Once you find candidates to apply, adopting a behavioral-based interview style allows you to gauge candidates' past performance and predict how they will respond to future challenges. Craft questions that target the character traits crucial for success in the SPD role, such as:

  • How do you handle an angry customer?
    • Sometimes the operating room (OR) can call and be frustrated with SPD. A question like this will help you understand how techs can manage conflict and deescalate a situation. 
  • What motivates you to get out of bed? 
    • You want to see what will get them up and to work on time.
  • What is the difference between accountability and responsibility? 
    • You want to see that they'll own their mistakes and grow and that they'll have a sense of teamwork and bringing people together.
During the interview process, it is essential to provide candidates with an accurate representation of the work environment. It might be tempting to sugar coat job challenges if you’re really needing a new person quickly. But in the long run, when candidates can make informed decisions about their fit within the organization, they’ll be a better employee. Discuss the role frankly and offer tours of the facility to candidates, especially those with no prior experience. 

You can also have current techs participate in the interview. They can provide additional insight about the job candidates as well as provide accurate answers to questions about the role.


Keeping SPD Techs Engaged and Motivated


Once you’ve found candidates to apply and interviewed them in a way that will help you find future top performers, then it’s only a matter of keeping people in place. 


While it might be common to think of motivating employees with a pizza party, there are many ways you can keep sterilization techs engaged in their roles. Some of these include: 

  • Know the goals of the techs and support them to move forward with their life and career goals. 
  • Be understanding and help them with work-life balance.
  • Where possible, find ways to be flexible with their work schedule based on their needs. 
  • Show them they have a future in this job by giving them a career path in your department.
  • Get creative in finding new resources to compensate employees. 
  • Connect with employees and coach them on how to perform even better in their roles. 
  • Provide them the best tools and resources to be productive in their roles.

There is no one magic formula that will make every employee stay at every facility. But you can be creative and find ways to make it work for your unique situation and facility. 

Want to learn more? Get in touch with a Censis expert today to learn about the best ways to help your sterilization processing department improve productivity and quality.


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