Talent management strategies for driving hospital performance outcomes

by Saba Software | Posted | Performance Management

Talent management strategies for driving hospital performance outcomes

Today I’m pleased to introduce this guest post from Dr. Kevin Groves. Kevin is President of Groves Consulting Group and an Associate Professor of Management at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management.

In this post Kevin shares some important research findings and insight on how talent management can impact organizational performance in healthcare.

Health care human resource professionals face incredible change in today’s increasingly competitive health care environment. Reimbursement degradation, shrinking margins, a rapidly aging workforce, and the industry’s transition from volume to value-based metrics demand more effective talent management strategies for developing a sustained pipeline of leadership talent.

Successfully overcoming these challenges rests on HR professionals’ ability to develop their organization’s talent management capabilities namely the effective identification, development, and retention of leadership talent to achieve strategic objectives.

In partnership with Pepperdine University and Witt/Kieffer, the Groves Consulting Group recently completed a national benchmarking survey on the utilization rates and business performance outcomes of talent management best practices in hospitals.

Healthcare talent management strategy survey

Drawing on my prior talent management research in hospital organizations[i], the Healthcare Talent Management Survey (PDF) assessed the impact of talent management best practices on clinical, financial, and workforce performance outcomes.

One hundred and forty two HR executives representing national hospital systems across the U.S. provided performance outcome data and also rated the degree to which their respective organization uses talent management best practices.

These best practices include:

  • Top Management Team Support
  • Talent Assessment Practices
  • Performance Management Processes
  • Pay Practices
  • Leadership Development Culture
  • Onboarding Practices

So what do hospital organizations gain by adopting talent management best practices? The findings shouldn’t surprise you, but they are impressive:

Greater patient satisfaction. Hospital organizations with exemplary talent management practices demonstrated 13% higher patient satisfaction scores (74%), as measured by the percentage of patients reporting high satisfaction (“Always” satisfied) across scores from The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys. The strongest drivers of high HCAHPS scores were Talent Assessment Practices and Top Management Team Support.

Lower nursing turnover. Hospital organizations with strong utilization rates of the best practices noted above reported 2.07% lower annual turnover for nurses compared to organizations with low utilization scores. Onboarding Practices and Leadership Development Culture demonstrated the greatest impact on annual nursing turnover.

Higher internal/external executive hiring ratios. Strong application of the best practices also predicted a 26% higher internal/external executive hiring ratio (69%), as open executive positions were predominantly filled by internal candidates.

Greater executive team diversity. Hospitals making the most of talent management best practices reported 18% more women in executive-level positions (vice-presidents and above) and a 28% improvement in the percentage of executive roles occupied by ethnic minorities.

Higher employee productivity. Best Practice usage was associated with an impressive 23.7% ($31,469 per full-time equivalent) increase in employee productivity, as measured by net revenue divided by total full-time equivalents (FTEs).

Applying the talent management best practices

It’s one thing to look at compelling survey data that links best practices to strong outcomes. But many organizations are looking for a practical process to get there. How can your healthcare organization enhance key business performance outcomes through enhanced talent management capabilities?

Here’s a process that covers six key steps your organization can take to advance your talent management journey.

1. Audit Your Talent Management System. Assess the degree to which the best practices are executed across your organization’s talent management strategies, policies, and practices; identify those best practices that are practiced sparingly or inconsistently.

2. Establish a Stronger Business Case. Create greater urgency among top management team and board members for elevating its strategic priority by highlighting ROI research on talent management practices and analyzing internal workforce demographic trends (retirement trajectories, diversity statistics, and leader bench strength).

3. Enhance Talent Assessment Practices. Develop standardized assessment tools (e.g., nine-box models) that plot employees in key positions according to job performance and leadership capabilities.

4. Align Incentive Pay Practices for Improving Patient Satisfaction. Align CEO, senior executive team, and managerial incentive pay policies and performance appraisal systems with visible, active support of talent management practices.

5. Cultivate a Leadership Development Culture. Seek transparency with the high potential designation process by training managers to formally communicate outcomes stemming from the talent review process (across all employees reviewed).

6. Develop High Potential Leaders. Selectively place high potentials into experiential development opportunities that are directly tied to strategic, system-wide initiatives, including special projects (e.g., cross-divisional and cross-site assignments) and internal leadership development programs that include action learning projects.

To get further insight into the unique talent management challenges and opportunities facing healthcare organizations, visit the Center of Excellence for Talent Management in Healthcare.

About Kevin Groves

Kevin S. Groves, Ph.D., is President of Groves Consulting Group and an Associate Professor of Management at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management.

For further information on his talent management research and consulting work, including the full report of Healthcare Talent Management Survey findings, he can be reached at kevin.groves@pepperdine.edu or (310) 568-5729.


[i] Groves, K. (2011). Talent management best practices: How exemplary health care organizations create value in a down economy. Health Care Management Review, 36(3), 227-240.

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