Answers to healthcare’s top 3 HR challenges

Healthcare communities have unique challenges and need to adapt to a rapidly changing industry landscape. To start the new year learning together, WorkforceNEXT brought prominent healthcare leaders together for the Healthcare Summit where attendees addressed issues in HR, talent acquisition/retention, workforce engagement, communication, and learning management.

The day was full of collaborative learning as HR healthcare leaders were introduced to new solution providers to help them adapt to their changing industry. Attendees had the chance to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges their peers face through a Waggl pulse coordinated with WorkforceNEXT. Prior to the summit, participants were asked, “What is your biggest workforce challenge in 2018?”

The challenges were captured through an anonymous, pairwise voting process with the top three themes identified as culture, talent, and competition. Many people added real-time comments and voted up answers at the event by accessing the Waggl pulse on their phones. The top-ranked responses were:

  1. “Attracting talent that fits the skills AND culture at our organization for employment.”
  2. “Talent shortage and industry competition. We’ve made significant strides in our overall retention and employee engagement, and are focused on close alignment with our candidate outreach strategy.”
  3. “Increasing competition for limited supply of qualified leaders and experienced clinicians.”

With attention on healthcare workforce culture, these challenges and themes were addressed throughout the day.

Culture
Shibu Varghese, SHRM-SCP, Senior Vice President, People and Business Operations; CHRO; and Chief Diversity Officer at MD Anderson Cancer Center, started the day off with a keynote on the “Culture of Caring.” Shibu discussed the metrics around disengagement in our workforce, pointing to the $605 billion lost each year in productivity due to disengaged employees according to Gallup’s ongoing research.

To address the unchanging issue of disengagement, Shibu outlined what leadership can do to bolster engagement and drive productivity. With a number of skills that leadership should develop within themselves, Waggl leadership was inspired by these suggestions in particular: trust and empower your employees, be transparent, and be authentic.

Shibu set the tone for the rest of the day, putting the power of creating caring healthcare systems in the hands of leaders who are focused on attracting, engaging, and retaining top tier talent.

Talent
Kim Garcia, VP of HR at Memorial Hermann Health Systems, provided advice in the closing presentation on talent engagement and retention amidst a highly competitive landscape between employers. One of the key suggestions to engage and retain employees was the importance of training. In healthcare, you cannot build a successful team of doctors, nurses, and staff without robust training. Kim noted the importance of creating a process where leadership engages with employees throughout training and development.

Kim suggested identifying “pit stops,” or distinct timelines for checking in with employees as they are onboarded and further trained in their positions. The surveys or pulses provided to employees during these pit stops do not have to be, and probably should not be, lengthy. A simple four question pulse survey facilitates impactful conversations, ensuring employees feel heard and that their needs are met. Establishing these standards for regular discussion allows leaders to continually learn from their employees and adapt training to the needs of their populations. This level of attention on talent is not necessarily an industry standard yet, but those participating in the summit are certainly working to make it a priority.

Competition
In addition to addressing struggles with training and developing talent, healthcare leaders are faced with stiff competition, with potential for competitors to lure top performers away. This challenge is requiring leaders to put greater focus on how to retain those they work so hard to attract and develop in the first place. Kim addressed retention with a “refueling” process in line with the “pit stop” strategy for onboarding and training.

The takeaway was to recognize employees and continually engage them. Ongoing engagement allows employers to work with their people to resolve struggles that would lead to turnover if left unaddressed.

Waggl began working with healthcare communities to address needs around employee engagement and culture. In working with organizations like UCHealth, Atrius Health, and Western Connecticut Health System, it was clear that the patient’s experience rarely exceeds that of healthcare employees. Therefore, it is paramount to nurture a positive culture for employees and prioritize engagement in the healthcare setting.

Although employee engagement and culture are ingrained in the Waggl platform, we have been interested in diving deeper into what engagement means for recruitment and retention, talent, and leadership development in healthcare. Participating in the WorkforceNEXT Healthcare Summit allowed us to hear the needs directly from HR and business leaders in this space.

As Waggl grows, so does our base of healthcare partners who are leading meaningful engagement efforts. This growing network is able to unite around a desire to better meet their employee needs and, therefore, better serve their patients. As the healthcare industry continues to change, we want to ensure we are adapting with its leaders. With these partnerships, Waggl is helping HR and healthcare business leaders create listening cultures aligned around the people at all levels of the organization.

The challenges around culture, talent, and competition can be addressed when we harness insight from the entire organization as well as leverage industry knowledge at events like WorkforceNEXT Healthcare Summit.  Tweet This! We hope you join us at a future WorkforceNEXT event!

Want to learn more about how Waggl is the best platform to empower hospitals to provide the highest quality care? Take a look at some of our resources specific for healthcare here.