Health facilities face tremendous challenges in fulfilling rising expectations for a high-level continuum of care for patients. To overcome ongoing changes, address complex processes, and achieve the highest levels of performance, health facilities are turning to integrated systems.
As these healthcare providers adapt to a fourth- generation integrated system continuum, they look to HR and talent leaders to help initiate innovation across their organizations. For most, this sort of innovation must start with the HR department itself. Indeed, HR leaders must abandon many existing practices and adopt 21st century strategies and structural procedures. Doing so requires not only filling skills gaps and upgrading competencies, but also rapid adaption of modern technologies.
According to the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources (ASHHRA), the presence of an HR manager in healthcare organizations is crucial to providing effective services. Traditionally, the HR department has been responsible for certain roles like legal research, staffing and placement, and employee management. (Learn more about the traditional role in the article, “The Role of HR Manager in Health Care.”)
However, Towers Watson explains in Renovating HR for the New World of Health Care that HR is shifting from traditional processes to more of an “advice-giving role” with the facility’s leadership. AS HR transforms, new focus areas are starting to emerge:
- addressing the overall employee experience and culture
- talent management practices
- segmenting HR programs for new essential roles like
- IT and merger and acquisition (M&A) specialists
- building innovation capabilities within the workforce
- undertaking detailed workforce planning to meet
- future skill gaps and hiring challenges
- providing special HR teams for M&A activities.
Today, a growing number of HR leaders are focused on building and expanding employee service center approaches and leveraging self-service and HR portals, explains report author Denise LaForte, director of talent management and organizational alignment for Towers Watson. This is especially true as industry consolidation continues and many healthcare systems merge with or acquired local community hospitals, nursing homes, insurance companies, or physician practices. “To serve their newly acquired entities and eliminate redundancies and added costs, these expanding healthcare provider systems have built scalable system-wide HR infrastructures over the last five years,” writes LaForte.
Shift From Specialist to Strategist
HR specialists need to understand that now the department is shifting to roles like workforce planning and talent management rather than just recruitment among other traditional tasks. Their focus is no longer the employees; instead, new targets like local business managers and leaders are being introduced. Enter the “HR Strategist.”
HR strategists will need new skills and competencies, including change management, business acumen, critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to prioritize issues and tasks, claims the Towers Watson report. HR also must develop a careful approach to working with their teams to withstand commitment and productivity during this difficult period of transition and adaptation.
How to Get Started?
The first step is to understand what the HR department is currently doing and what healthcare actually needs from HR, advises Towers Watson. It is crucial for HR leaders to be actively involved with senior management to comprehend the workforce implications of the transformation within the organization. Once the gaps between the current state and desired future state are understood, HR can “create a new service delivery model, and reset the priorities for both the function and its leadership,” says LaForte.