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Managing Today’s Workforce to Meet Tomorrow’s Challenges

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects healthcare occupations to be among the fastest growing between 2016 and 2026. Even with technology’s increasing importance, it is therefore not just a cliché that human capital is healthcare’s greatest asset.

Talent

Unfortunately, healthcare has been experiencing a talent shortage for several years and it continues to worsen. Meanwhile, new entrants into the healthcare space, including Walmart, Amazon and Google’s Alphabet, are competing for talent, too. The churn of talent in healthcare only aggravates the issue. The average turnover of healthcare staff in 2017 was 20.6 percent, up from 15.6 percent in 2010.

Organizations can apply a number of strategies for recruiting and retaining talent to ensure the delivery of quality healthcare in their communities, including:

  • Comprehensive workforce planning. Use strategic planning to recruit the desired talent. Hone the hiring process to identify individuals with the necessary capabilities.
  • Streamlined recruitment and hiring processes. Organizations lose out on many candidates when the recruitment process is extended by too many interviews. Apply predictive analytics to determine when and where to post jobs externally.
  • Sustainable employee and career development programs. Healthcare lags behind many industries that are investing in internal talent and skill development programs.

Leadership

Leadership holds the key to success for any organization. Now more than ever, healthcare needs leaders who can provide innovative solutions. Health systems must recruit C-suite and other executives who are capable of leading efforts that are focused on value-driven payment and population health.

Then, these systems must do a better job of holding on to these executives. The average tenure of a hospital CEO is just three and a half years. This pace of turnover is very disruptive. It is expensive too, considering that the estimated cost to replace CEOs is two to three times their annual salary.

Technology

A great deal of attention has been given to technological changes in healthcare, raising concerns about how organizations can respond to these changes in an appropriate, timely and effective manner. To serve communities with the care and support they require, healthcare providers must determine the best ways to harness the new capabilities that evolving technologies promise, including:

  • Financial systems in healthcare lag behind other sectors. As today’s healthcare leaders optimize their financial systems, they are able to draw on new analytical tools that can help predict gaps in financial performance, assess organizational risks and boost employee productivity.
  • HR systems need to be updated if they are to be efficient assets. Facing the impending workforce shortages of experienced and qualified employees, healthcare organizations must act quickly to take full advantage of proven technologies.
  • Artificial intelligence in healthcare presents many implications. By 2030, 25 percent of current tasks in healthcare will be automated. To benefit from the huge potential, healthcare organizations need to design a different workforce capable of learning new skills to build innovative solutions.

Culture

Culture encompasses the values, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and traditions that staff exhibits in the organization. The culture of an organization will also determine its success in attracting talent, especially millennials. This generation of the workforce evaluates an organization and its culture as a key criterion for joining.

Culture has a profound impact on the work environment by either strengthening or weakening employee engagement and retention. One of the most important ways leaders can influence culture is by reinforcing accountability. Staff should know what they will be held accountable for in their jobs. Organizations with a high-performance culture are well positioned to outperform their competitors on both financial and quality measures.

Healthcare leaders must be prepared with the requisite skills and attributes to lead a diverse and multigenerational workforce, and they must create a culture where everyone has an opportunity to succeed. The ability to meet the needs of the communities we serve depends on getting talent, leadership, technology and culture right—by cultivating and managing the right workforce.


Looking for more information on the complex challenges of managing a healthcare workforce? Choose from 15 sessions focused on workforce at Congress for Healthcare Leadership, March 23-26, 2020.

This blog post is excerpted and adapted from the article of the same name by Webb, Patricia Golden, FACHE, originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of Frontiers of Health Services Management. ACHE members: sign in to read the full article. Not a member? Join today and save $140 on Congress.

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