Projectizing Hospitals: Hiring and Retaining Talent in Healthcare Organizations

healthcaretechnology_800_500_s_c1By Dr. Terrence D. Duncan

Healthcare organizations feature a multitude of positions and departments based on the unique specializations.  Whether it is a hospital, assisted living center, or skilled nursing facility, the variety of positions can create a strain on human resources and regular operations management.  The rigorous demands of each position sometimes feature a combination of their essential functions of the position, as well as absorbing some form of other responsibility from other positions in that particular department. As a result, the ability to hire and retain the appropriate talent and building a quality team is essential in managing a healthcare organization.

Turnover is relatively high in the healthcare industry. High turnover results in increased direct and indirect costs. Direct costs could include costs associated with training, recruitment, separation, and litigation. Indirect costs could include lower morale, lower productivity, and negative perceptions of the organization and leadership.  Although these costs ultimately affect the bottom line, these costs also negatively affect the organization’s ability to take care of one of the most important stakeholders: the patient or resident. Ultimately, the human resources management processes also correlate with understanding risk and determining how to mitigate your project and organization against high risk.

As project managers continue to acquire and build talent for their associated process, two Human Resources Management processes come to mind: Develop Project Team and Manage Project Team.  Hiring and retaining talent in healthcare is an operational priority.  Due to some of the current challenges provided through recent legislative changes and federal funding restrictions, it may be difficult to pay or maintain a competitive wage in the industry.  Despite this fact, once you have an associate come to the door, it is necessary to try to remember or employ these tactics in retaining the talent.

Training Does Not Stop at Orientation

One of the most common comments uttered by staff is there is not enough training or they are not sure as to what they are doing.  What leadership must keep in mind is that the most important cargo, the patient, is in the hands of another employee who may not have the adequate training from orientation.  Due to the numerous regulatory requirements from a clinical, legal, safety, and risk perspective, an associate who has been hired on the job may feel overwhelmed by the numerous requirements thrown at him or her during the orientation process.  Unlike some industries where you may have more predictable outcomes occur, healthcare outcomes are unpredictable. Depending on the type of position and healthcare organization where the associate works, the acuity of the patients may present a daily challenge. Residents feature mental health illnesses or dementia creates a highly volatile nature in attempting to provide quality care.

Develop Empathy and Understanding

I recall years ago that I trained several people who reported to me on a regular basis.  I had difficulty in having them to recall some of the information provided in training.  One day, I saw with one of the newer trainees a couple of months later, and she informed me how difficult it was to learn not only one major function of her job but to learn about another set of procedures that were very nuanced. It was at that moment I restructured the entire way to train and provided more accessibility and availability to newer trainees to allow them time to become comfortable in what I required.  Although your day as a manager or leader is packed with an ever-constant to do list, checking on your associates or being available to assist their needs, especially when an associate is relatively new to your organization, is a good way to retain associates because you also develop a rapport with that individual. Turnover sometimes is attributed to a lack of empathy, compassion, and understanding. If you know an aide, tech, or R.N. has limited experience when you hired him/her, not providing that extra one on one is a quick way to allow feelings of resentment and frustration take over to the point where resignation creeps in his or her mind.


Identify Ongoing Needs Assessment

The healthcare industry is heavily regulated.  Some of their requirements include in-services to take place with regular frequency.  Despite the state or federal mandates requiring ongoing training, each of your associates has a different level of understanding.  If you are in the healthcare industry, you are in the business of customer service and quality of care.  These two objectives are mutually exclusive, and therefore, if you are not providing an ongoing assessment of your team, you subject your organization and patients to poor outcomes.  In the course of your monitoring associate performance, remember you are generally responsible for their overall performance.

Leadership is an ever-changing process. The challenge is not only recognizing the statistical numbers that are present in key metrics, it is the ability to analyze the human element associated with such stats.  Empathy, compassion, understanding, and communication are areas that are not easily available by a means of a spreadsheet, as well as some customer satisfaction surveys. Sometimes your ability to become intuitive to your current operational environment could pay dividends with improved operational efficiency, improving patient satisfaction outcomes, and addressing the needs of one of your key stakeholders: your associates.

Dr. Terrence D. Duncan: Author of The Four Fits of Holistic Growth (2016), a book that focuses on personal development and self-motivation. By encouraging readers to think outside the box, The Four Fits provides 16 axioms or foundations along with 15 interactive worksheets.

Connect with Dr. Terrence D. Duncan on LinkedIn:  

Follow on Twitter: @drtduncan



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