6 Leadership Strategies for Navigating Perpetual Change in HealthcareThe only constant in healthcare is change. To facilitate organizational change — leaders need to take a step back and realize where change really begins: your people.

As the CEO of a healthcare talent management solution provider, I regularly discuss organizational development and talent management strategies with healthcare leaders.  From these conversations, I’ve gathered the following six initiatives that healthcare organizations must adopt to manage the changes ahead:

1. Recruit for New Roles

New roles and skills requirements are emerging in an environment of HCAHPS, population health, ACOs, and the rapid growth of express retail and urgent care facilities. Healthcare organizations will need RNs who can effectively coordinate the provision of care post-hospitalization. You’ll need patient advocates who work with front-line staffers to promote patient satisfaction to drive HCAHPS scores. Organizations will need population health navigators with the clinical and communication skills to provide education through community outreach programs.

As many areas of forecasted growth in healthcare are primarily occurring in “non-traditional care locations,” such as express care clinics, the demand for these new roles will be astronomically high. Hospitals and health systems will be competing head-to-head with the local pharmacy around the corner and suburban care clinics for qualified healthcare talent. Organizations will need to develop proactive HR strategies to recruit new talent to meet consumer demands or risk losing out on qualified applicants in the increasing competitive market.

2. Train Existing Employees on Required Skills

Many critical skills that healthcare staffers need today are behavioral, such as teamwork, communication, flexibility, and critical thinking. While organizations must hire people with these inherent behavioral competencies, they also need professional development programs in place to build out these skill sets.  Healthcare organizations that are able to successfully adapt to the new paradigm are training staff on population health management, the importance of patient handoffs, discharges, and follow-ups, and diagnostic and treatment approaches associated with EMRs. These are just a couple of examples of change that require focused training and education for new hires and existing employees in healthcare.

3. Implement New Performance Goals

New employee performance goals are emerging and the traditional performance appraisal process is evolving. We’re moving beyond focusing solely on pillars, VBP, reducing HAIs and readmissions; individual performance goals should now be focused on cross-care coordination and handoffs, the effectiveness of patient communication, the timeliness of access to care, and the reduction of inpatient utilization. On the other hand, organizational goals should focus on the wellness and health of whole populations, from employees to members of the community. Individual performance goals should always be top-of-mind for employees, as they should be the driving force behind every decision made and action taken.

4. Optimize Processes Across New Entities

Given the number of mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, and organizational changes in recent years, healthcare organizations must prepare to reevaluate and standardize talent management processes across the entire health system to ensure consistency. Most healthcare organizations are likely standardizing processes today for clinical protocols — why not for your talent acquisition and employee development initiatives? Despite the disruption of change, consistency is crucial.

5. Sustain Employee Engagement in Times of Change

Research shows that only 40% of hospital employees are considered “engaged.” So what negatively impacts employee engagement levels? You guessed it: Change.

Healthcare leaders must proactively manage employee engagement by focusing on the known engagement drivers of executive actions, quality of care, promotion opportunities, stress management, communication, and recognition. The solution is not a mystery, the C-suite and executive team need to take ownership of employee engagement.  In this case, positive change starts at the top.

6. Develop the Leaders for Tomorrow

Having the right people in place at the top is more important than you may think.  In fact a recent study showed that even just a one percent decrease in “leadership effectiveness” correlated with a 33% decrease in revenue per bed. Poor leadership decisions, no matter how minimal they may seem, actually have significant impact on the bottom line. It starts with the right leadership selection and continues through ongoing assessment and development. In fact, having the right model and programs in place for leadership selection and development is an absolute necessity and the biggest lever for organizational success.

So how does a healthcare organization implement these talent management strategies? It takes leadership to get employees engaged and encouraged to contribute to the adoption of new initiatives through clear and consistent communication.  CEOs who leave talent management strategies to their Human Resources, Organizational Development, and Learning teams to handle, will not see results.  Additionally, it takes technology to manage and measure the results of the processes implemented. Talent management technology solutions should be core to the management and measurement of all organizational change strategies and implementation. Remember, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

As a healthcare leader, you must take the initiative to be proactive with your talent management strategies in order to navigate through the roadblocks that come along with change by focusing on what really matters: your employees.

To learn more, download our executive overview:

5 Healthcare Challenges Impacting Talent Management

In this executive overview, we explore five key trends driving change in healthcare, and look at the key ways the HealthcareSource Quality Talent Suite can help.

Executive Overview

Editorial Note: This post has been adapted from an article that first appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of Healthcare Executive magazine, published by the American College of Healthcare Executives. Read the original article on ACHE.org.

About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.