Satisfied and engaged employees are essential if healthcare human resources departments are to hit the goal of improving patient satisfaction and safety, said an industry panel during a webinar Thursday reflecting on a newly released survey of healthcare HR professionals.
“Happy employees equal happy patients,” said Lydia Ostermeier, director, Indiana University Health, and National Association for Health Care Recruitment president.
“There’s tons and tons of data out there that validates that an engaged workforce performs significantly higher than a disengaged one,” said Jeff Payne, vice president of human resources, Lakeland Regional Medical Center and past president of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA).
ASHHRA, a personal membership group of the American Hospital Association, and Healthcare Source, a provider of talent management software solutions, teamed up to question healthcare HR professionals about their top initiatives for reducing costs, improving patient satisfaction and patient safety and to learn what challenges HR professionals are facing today. Fifty percent of the 234 respondents to the nationwide survey reported they were HR directors or managers.
To achieve HR initiatives for improving patient satisfaction, 75 percent of survey respondents said they will need to improve employee satisfaction/engagement and create a culture of employee accountability. Seventy-two percent said it is important to create a service-oriented culture and 64 percent said they must align their workforce with their organizations’ mission and core values.
The panelists agreed with the survey respondents about the importance of improving workforce education and training. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said these factors are important to achieve improvements in patient safety.
“I do believe that education and development is evolving,” said Ostermeier. “It moved from a focus on compliance and certification and clinical skills to more of a focus on what we’ve traditionally been calling ‘soft skills’: team work training, leadership development, communication, customer service.” Those “soft skills” are “critical for success” she said, as healthcare moves into the accountable care organization model.
HR professionals said the biggest challenges they faced when trying to achieve their initiatives were not having enough time to focus on important projects (62 percent); having too many competing initiatives (56 percent); not having a sufficient budget to implement programs (47 percent); and not having adequate or having inefficient technology systems (43 percent).
Solutions to those challenges may be found in the HR software already being used in HR departments said the panelists. Often, they said, HR professionals do not understand the capabilities of their software. “A good thing with technology today is it will probably cover every single area that you’re looking at in terms of your business challenges,” said Katherine Jones, PhD, director of research at Bersin and Associates. “Very, very great pieces of technology just aren’t being utilized to their fullest either in terms of the analytics they can produce for you (or) the data that you have already at your fingertips.”
The survey also noted that HR professionals are eager to streamline their processes (69 percent) in order to reduce costs and many are looking into performance management software and using social media tools such as LinkedIn for recruiting.