In these days of job shortages and a struggling workforce, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projection of 22 percent employment growth in the health care industry by 2018 seem positive – until one considers the spike in retirement and the decline in the number of educational institutions offering health care programs. The reality is the health care sector is facing a severe shortage of employees with needed skills.
This labor gap means that hospital and medical center administrators must think creatively in order to continue operating effectively. Also, health care employers must focus on designing appealing employment deals in order to attract, retain and engage employees with critical skill sets. Adding to their challenges, health care reform is changing the industry’s business model.
“The pace and intensity of change in the health care industry, particularly for Florida, along with regulatory uncertainty presents additional challenges,” says Donna Bahr-Landsea, Towers Watson Florida Managing Consultant.
A leading global professional services company, Towers Watson serves more than 250 U.S. hospitals and health care systems in Florida. According to the company’s report, “Transforming the Health Care Workforce of the Future,” health care providers must begin adapting to the changes within the industry and create a business plan that will successfully navigate the shifts.
Health care employers also need to determine what attracts potential employees and retains them. Towers Watson’s decade-long research shows that what draws employees to a new job differs from what actually keeps them working there. What engages employees over time differs as well.
In a recent study, Towers Watson found that paid time-off and base pay were important attraction factors throughout all professions, but medical professionals cared more about career advancement than job security or the ability to balance their work and personal lives. When it comes to retention, employees int he medical field value being treated respectfully, believing in their company’s mission, and trusting and feeling confident in their organization’s leadership.
Employee engagement not only influences employee retention rates, it also affects patient satisfaction, which is linked to business performance. A recent Towers Watson analysis of acute care facilities shows that patient satisfaction is higher when employees feel they are getting needed support and growth opportunities.
Companies can help raise rates of employee engagement with effective leadership that provides needed resources, manages job challenges and removes obstacles like confusion of roles and tasks.
“We recommend that managers communicate regularly with employees and give them ongoing training opportunities,” Bahr-Landsea says. “Hospitals also need to ensure their employee programs and practices align with their health system strategy.”
Towers Watson employs a variety of strategies to help health organizations improve how they are addressing their unique talent needs. For example, to enhance attraction and retention of key talent, the company’s new data-driven total rewards model identifies the importance of different foundational and performance-based compensation to various segments of employees, notes Jamie Hale, Head of Workforce Planning at Towers Watson.
“Our approach called total rewards optimization looks at the balance between preferences of the employees and the cost of the programs. We try to find the optimal mix of what the organization is investing and what the employee values.”
Hospitals and health care systems can thrive with effective workforce planning that helps draw, keep and engage the people needed both now and in the future.
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.