What is on the minds of today's hospital leaders? A recent survey conducted by HealthLeaders Media lists the top priorities and concerns of hospital leaders in the U.S.: patient experience and satisfaction was ranked first, followed by clinical quality and safety, and then cost reduction / process improvement.
For most hospitals, salaries and benefits are the biggest budget items. In fact, according to the American Hospital Association, hospitals, on average, spend 54 percent of their budget on employee salaries and budgets. If a hospital wants to overcome its financial challenges, it's clear that human resources needs to be a part of the solution.
A good place to start is for healthcare HR professionals to begin championing talent management best practices that foster a culture of employee engagement, performance improvement and accountability.
The link between best practices in talent management, and employee engagement and productivity
Recent research by Dr. Kevin Groves at Pepperdine University demonstrates that effective talent management in healthcare has been proven to increase in patient satisfaction, lower nursing turnover and increase employee productivity.
With research underscoring the importance of talent management in achieving these positive outcomes, it only makes sense to look at a few best practices.
1. Organization-centric goal alignment Ensure employees have clear standards for performance, as well as goals and objectives that are linked to organizational goals.
One of the most effective ways for healthcare HR and healthcare leaders to communicate a change in priorities is through organizational goals. Managers should be clear about goals and expectations, and help employees see how their work matters to the organization. This organization-centric approach to goal management is especially important in times of change.
Case in point: Fairbanks Hospital uses goal setting and alignment to help its non-clinical departments to better understand how they improve patient satisfaction scores:
"Since incorporating goal management using Halogen, we find that day-to-day activities are more closely aligned with our mission, which has helped improve employee engagement, and most importantly, the quality of care and services we deliver to our patients and families." - Fairbanks Hospital CEO Helene Cross
2. Employee development and career progression: Give employees learning, development and career progression opportunities, including access to the resources, training, and information they need to succeed.
One of the top three reasons people leave organizations is the lack of challenging and meaningful development opportunities - making learning programs particularly important in terms of employee retention. When organizations can tightly integrate learning with performance, it becomes much more relevant to employees because they see how their learning activities support their individual performance and development needs and positively impact patients and clients.
And with each new nurse costing conservatively $31,486 per nurse, including recruitment, training and lost productivity, reducing turnover can have a significant impact on a hospital's bottom line.
Case in point: By implementing a system that integrates performance and learning, Black River Memorial Hospital has seen a change in how employees view training:
"Our staff now understands how what they do contributes to the organization's success, whether their goal is to earn a specific certification or do process improvements. We no longer hear: I don't know why I'm doing this. Now they say: I'm doing this because it makes a difference in areas like patient outcomes, improved service delivery and money saved." - Holly Winn, Vice-President of Ancillary Services and Human Resources
Within the healthcare industry, being able to measure competencies is critical in determining the ability of healthcare staff and professionals to provide quality services and the highest levels of care to patients. Unlike goals or objectives that describe what you want staff members to do, competencies take into account behavior or how you want tasks to be accomplished.
Competencies should be clearly defined, and used consistently throughout the employee lifecycle. For instance, organizations should include them in job requisitions to help ensure that they hire the right people for the right job.
Job descriptions should match the job requisitions, so employees have consistency in what they were hired for, and what is expected of them. Finally, when it comes time to review performance, these same competencies should be assessed, ensuring a consistency from hire to review.
Committed to cost reduction, process improvement
Many healthcare HR leaders say one of their biggest challenges is to secure appropriate funding for talent management programs. Forced to compete for limited funding with other departments and initiatives, healthcare HR departments need to know how to make a compelling argument for an investment in talent management.
If you're interested in seeing what's possible, we can help you calculate your potential return on talent management investment.
Healthcare HR's critical role
If you are a healthcare HR professional, you can help alleviate the concerns keeping your CEO up at night. Because when done effectively, talent management programs can increase patient satisfaction, decrease nursing turnover and improve employee productivity.
And all of these outcomes can help to improve your hospital's bottom line - and make your CEO very happy.