At no time in history has healthcare faced so many critical challenges at once. High retirement rates, competition, budget stretching wages, and burnout make it appear almost as if every area of healthcare workforce management is being disrupted and turned upside down.
In managing these challenges, healthcare HR executives are in a unique position. They strike a balance between serving as the advocate for employees while at the same time representing leadership and administration. Over the last few years, this has been an especially challenging position. With a lingering recession, many healthcare organizations faced reduced demand for services, leading to layoffs and pay cuts. Yet, looming on the horizon is a projected nursing shortage, and a rapidly aging population needing care for chronic conditions. Healthcare leaders, especially those in HR, need to become equipped with tools and knowledge of how to optimize their workforce and find a balance.
The need to successfully manage these critical issues simply emphasizes the importance of HR’s role. In fact, according to a recent Ernst and Young report, 80% of those surveyed said the relationship between Human Resources and the Chief Financial Officer has become more collaborative. The responsibility now is for executives to take action and increase the role of HR to manage the looming healthcare workforce challenges.
In this new and constantly evolving reality of healthcare, HR must remain focused on optimizing the workforce, but in radically different ways. Instead of reducing resources, the focus will shift to employee retention. The challenge sits with ensuring the right employees are hired, trained and deployed in a way that ensures they are providing the greatest benefit to the patient, and meeting patient need. At the same time, employees need to be nurtured and developed to foster employee engagement, which is a critical component of any workforce management strategy.
One of the most significant actions that can be taken to support healthcare HR to achieve these goals is ensuring the necessary tools for success. The answer lies in attaining powerful automated and integrated solutions that simplify time-intensive manual tasks such as payroll deductions, benefits management, meeting ACA requirements, effective dating, and managing tax changes. An investment in technology can save HR staff time, enabling them to better focus their attention on improving employee engagement and other tasks critical to achieving clinical and financial goals.
Healthcare HR professionals have successfully managed very difficult challenges over the last few years, and are benefiting from the increased collaboration with finance. Through this, the importance of HR’s contribution to healthcare’s bottom line has been validated. HR continues to support not only the healthcare organization, but also the entire healthcare workforce.