Training, Development & Retention
It goes without saying that without good, qualified employees, you cannot serve your patients, their families, and the community. Hiring the right people and engaging and retaining your employees will result in higher morale, lower employee turnover, and a much stronger bottom line.As we face global unprecedented demographic, economic, and competitive challenges, and other industries experience layoffs and cutbacks, most analysts have projected that the health care industry will be the fastest-growing segment of the economy over the next ten years and will account for at least three out of every 10 new jobs created. Developing an effective talent acquisition strategy is a challenge, especially within the health care industry as the shortage of health care professionals grows.
Unfortunately, there is no industry that is more archaic in recruiting and talent management than health care. The approach and overall attitude found in many health care recruiting functions is often antiquated. This assessment is based upon my 21 years of observation and experience working with a number of health care organizations and professionals within in the USA and globally to improve the impact of their recruiting and retention efforts.
Not all health care organizations are awful at recruiting; those who have mastered 21st century recruiting approaches achieve phenomenal success. Unfortunately, the vast majority (90 percent) seem as dedicated to generating excuses for their shortcomings as the leading 10 percent is to making a difference.
In health care, the ability to quickly screen, hire, and onboard medical personnel can have a direct affect on patients' well-being. As such, recruitment and retention in the health care industry must remain a top priority.
By many estimates, the number of Americans nearing retirement will increase by more than 30 percent, while the population of young adults entering the workforce will rise by less than 3 percent. The need for health care organizations to make talent management a top priority is further emphasized by the pending talent crisis and the need to hire and retain key employees when we consider this fact and the other challenges such as a growing number of current workers leaving the field and more stringent budget cuts, the likelihood of increased governmental regulation and global competition.
Talent Management Accountability involves four key areas:
• Attracting employees—sourcing, hiring and new employees.
• Onboarding new employees – training, educating and getting new employees comfortable
• Retaining existing employees—managing, engaging and developing employees.
• Transitioning employees—expanding responsibilities of, transferring and knowing when to let go of employees.
Attracting the Right Employees
Everything begins with hiring the right employees. In his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don’t, Jim Collins says that the best companies "get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus." Collins says great companies have a corporate culture that finds and promotes disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner. Collins states:"...if you have the wrong people, it doesn’t matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won’t have a great company. Great vision without great people is irrelevant." Yet the right employees are often elusive, and becoming more so—especially in the health care industry.
Competition for a shrinking talent pool is keen. Potential health care employees have more choices of where to work. Globalization makes skilled workers prime recruiting targets of health care organizations around the world, and the Internet makes it simple for health care employees to find and compare job opportunities. Finding prospective employees is the first step. Finding the right employees from among the prospects is the second. And then quickly getting the right employees geared up, motivated, productive, and confident in their new responsibilities is the third.
Whose job is it to source? To interview? To hire? To orient and train new employees?
Health care Organizations of all sizes implement a variety of new processes and procedures—usually through their human resources departments—to make sourcing, hiring, and onboarding more effective. Technology, for example, plays an ever-bigger role in many organizations. Facilities can now implement software applications that initiate a requisition to staffing, post jobs to job boards and corporate websites, extract resumes to databases, track candidates through prescreening and reference checking, schedule interviews, stay in e-mail contact with candidates, and make employment offers.
Many organizations also design and implement standardized job descriptions, interview guides, reference checking procedures, outsourced recruiting assistance, and other processes to help their hiring managers reach the job offer and acceptance stage. Then, retooled employee orientation, training, and mentoring programs help get new employees up to speed quickly. In these ways, HR adds real value to the process, freeing managers to focus on their day-to-day operational issues.
But these value-added tools and techniques can backfire when managers rely too heavily on them to bring new people into the organization or when they take the "it’s HR’s job" approach to this key accountability.
Unit managers always have been and must continue to be ultimately responsible for attracting new employees to the health care organization. They know the job that needs to be done, they know the culture, they know the team dynamics, they know the results that both they and the facility need. They are also the ones tasked with developing their health care professionals now and in the future—and transitioning them into expanded job responsibilities when the time is right.
Managers need to embrace the responsibility for recruiting the right health care professionals into their facility and unit. And that means fulfilling their roles in all three "attracting" accountabilities—sourcing, hiring, and bringing people on board.
So, what does that look like?
When the best managers are studied, they demonstrate these accountabilities in the following ways:
Sourcing: Top managers create and nurture a qualified pool of health care candidates for current and future positions. They work effectively with internal support functions while maintaining overall responsibility for this effort. They focus not only on the existing requirements for a position, but also on the future direction of the facility and the skills it will need in two to five years. Those managers continually define "best-fit" candidate requirements, which include motivation and attitude in addition to knowledge and skills.
Managers who employ best practices during the sourcing process use creative techniques to maintain a steady stream of internal and external candidates. They know the search never ends, even after they select a candidate for a specific position.
Hiring: Successful managers get the right people into the right jobs on their unit. They use best practices such as planned and structured approaches when interviewing, asking appropriate questions to accumulate the data that allow them to objectively compare candidates and make the best choices. They look beyond the urgency of filling a position to find the employee who offers a fresh perspective and another dimension to the team—adding a diversity of ideas, approaches, and backgrounds. The best managers also understand the importance of representing the health care organization well, making a good impression on the candidate and communicating the organization’s vision and values. They show respect to all health care professionals by treating them with concern and honesty—allowing the candidates to determine whether they are a good match for the health care organization.
Onboarding: Onboarding refers to the process of integrating new employees into the organization, of preparing them to succeed at their job, and to become fully engaged, productive members of the health care organization. It includes the initial orientation event and the ensuing months thereafter.
Successful on boarding is one of the most effective weapons in your arsenal. Studies have shown that a well-designed onboarding program can turn a new hire into a dedicated employee, reducing the costs of turnover. In a recent case study of a Washington DC hospital, they explained how a human resource executive at an area hospital had a simple, but powerful idea. The hospital decided to begin onboarding even before the new nurses started their first day.
Instead of waiting and hoping the new hire would make it through the recruiting frenzy that continued through the moment of accepting a new job to their first day, each nurse manager now proactively introduces the new hire to their team of nurses. The team of nurses then follows up by personally signing and sending a welcome card expressing their excitement to work with the new hire.
Although simple, creating a logical and emotional connection between the new hire, the organization, and their new team has proven particularly effective. New nurses now feel more connected and pre- and post-start attrition has decreased dramatically.
"Great employers begin the process before new hires arrive on-site," reports Workforce Management in a recent article, Onboarding Secures Talent for the Long Run. "During the final interview or at time scheduled before the official ‘start date,’ introduce team members... complete the paperwork... Employees are usually eager to dive in on the first day, so bypassing administrative tasks and focusing on the work to be done will keep enthusiasm high."
Human Resources Solutions recently called such onboarding practices ‘Delivering on the Promise,’ saying, "Ultimately, when people are made to feel welcome, they are more productive, less stressed, and more team focused. This all translates into lower turnover rates."
Getting new employees comfortable, connected, and productive as soon as possible is the manager’s role. When managers communicate the "big picture," new employees can understand how their roles support the health care organization’s goals. When a manager takes the time to build a relationship with an employee, that employee becomes a member of the team. The availability of resources is also important to new employees. The best managers create a support network for their new hires to help them quickly get up to speed. These managers also realize that being available to answer questions and provide feedback is a critical investment of time. When it comes to attracting the right employees, hiring managers at every level within the organization need to take bottom-line responsibility for finding, hiring, and onboarding new employees. Managers who are proactive throughout the entire attracting process ensure that the organization has the talent best suited for today and tomorrows needs.
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