Talent Management Trends in Healthcare: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Image of stethoscope on keyboard

Healthcare organizations are rethinking their talent management strategies after the events of the last year and a half. Should employees continue working from anywhere? How does this affect recruiting, collaboration, and engagement? What efforts should companies make to retain talent? How can organizations support and motivate employees to do their best work?  New talent management trends are emerging in the healthcare space due to questions like these.

The Good: Healthcare institutions are leveraging social learning functionality to facilitate best practice sharing across the organization.

For over a year, HR professionals have had to balance two segments of their workforce: frontline workers who cannot work from home and administrative employees who often can. Virtual communication tools like Zoom and WebEx helped employees perform business as (somewhat) usual, but some organizations also leveraged their talent management systems for a solution.

Most systems provide a space for employees to connect virtually – where users can access company resources and announcements, have their questions answered by experts, share best practices through online forums, make connections with others across the organization, and interact in a variety of other ways. These tools keep employees engaged and help prevent silos.

3 Tips for Managing Social Learning

    1. Create online forums or communities for specific audiences, such as data analysts, surgeons, or program managers. If a data analyst has a question about how to create a Tableau dashboard, for example, she can use this dedicated space to ask her peers for advice. This will enhance her work and make her feel more connected to the organization.
    2. Set clear governance policies for your social learning tool. Who will moderate each forum? What constitutes an inappropriate post that should be deleted?
    3. Dedicate one online forum to company resources, FAQs, and user guides for your Talent Management System. Keeping all communication in one forum reduces redundancy and improves transparency.

 

The Bad: Healthcare workers are reporting record levels of burnout and resigning in droves.

The pandemic exacerbated existing stressors for healthcare workers, such as demanding schedules, heavy workloads, and traumatic experiences at work. In a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll from March of 2021, about 30% of healthcare workers reported considering no longer working in healthcare. The shortage of healthcare workers, already a problem before 2020, reinforces a vicious cycle: employees leave the industry because they are overworked, their departure leaves even more work for those who remain, causing more burnout.

Doctors and nurses are accustomed to difficult work and long hours, but they need support from their employers, especially now. Healthcare organizations need to develop strategic retention plans, which should include providing competitive compensation packages, offering extra paid time off, providing training opportunities that employees want, and expanding recruiting efforts.

3 Tips for Addressing Burnout

    1. Set a No Meeting Day (or half day) policy and enforce it. Healthcare workers should be given the space to go where they are most needed, and that is likely not on another Zoom call.
    2. Create a space to recognize and appreciate your employees for their hard work. In a virtual setting, this can look like a tool for peer-to-peer feedback. In person, consider dedicating time in department meetings to give shout-outs to employees who have gone above and beyond.
    3. Ask your employees what they need from you. Send out surveys or hold town halls to learn about your essential workers’ pain points at work. Create an action plan to address those concerns as much as possible, and make sure to let employees know when a change has been made based on their feedback – this will make them more likely to continue to speak up.

 

The Ugly: Employees do not receive timely, appropriate feedback from managers.

One of the most persistent talent management trends in healthcare is an unintended consequence of a patients-first approach: employees’ professional development is often considered last. Most organizations perform cursory annual reviews, but when those reviews do include constructive feedback, it may be for a situation that occurred several months prior. Even worse, the hierarchical nature of healthcare organizations discourages lower- or mid-level employees from providing feedback to their supervisors. Employees in all organizations need regular feedback, both positive and constructive, to perform their duties appropriately and to develop professionally. They also need the opportunity to provide upward feedback – an unpopular practice in healthcare that could drastically improve workplace culture.

3 Tips for Creating a Feedback Culture

    1. Implement 360-degree reviews. Employees should receive feedback from their peers as well as their supervisors and should also be given the opportunity to review their managers. Managers often do not receive feedback from their subordinates in this industry.
    2. Provide feedback training to managers and their reports. Encouraging regular feedback is useless if your employees do not know how to describe opportunities for development as well as strengths.
    3. Leverage feedback tools within your Talent Management System, such as check-ins, to make feedback routine. Supervisors should be encouraged to meet 1:1 with their direct reports on a regular basis.

 

While there are some positive talent management trends emerging in the healthcare industry, there is room for improvement. A well-implemented talent management system combined with a continuous performance management culture can make significant improvements to the well-being and satisfaction of critical healthcare employees. Healthcare institutions need to prioritize these areas if they seek to attract and retain top talent.

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