Telework as a competitive edge

Texas Health Resources uses teleworking to give it an edge in a competitive employment market.

Where teleworking is suitable, offering the option to employees provides a competitive advantage

Even in a populated area like Dallas-Fort Worth, competition for skilled healthcare workers is fierce, and that’s why organizations like Texas Health Resources support remote work and teleworking.

Texas Health considers itself an employer of choice – it was named the #1 place to work by the Dallas Business Journal this year, and one of the Top 100 Best Companies by the Dallas Morning News, both awards based on employee interviews by independent agencies – but the organization knows the importance of having an edge as it competes for skilled healthcare workers.

[See also: Beating the workforce shortage]

Part of the organization’s strategy to gain a competitive advantage is offering and supporting remote-based working and teleworking, said Wendell Watson, director of media relations at Texas Health Resources.

While remote working does not work for everyone in healthcare, there are a variety of roles at Texas Health that fit the bill, either permanently or on a regular limited basis, Watson said – such as medical records transcribers and information technology.

Permanent remote-based workers make up a small percentage of Texas Health’s overall workforce, but teleworkers are another story. These are employees who routinely work from a remote location or home, but put in the bulk of their time on site.

A majority of Texas Health’s employees are eligible to telework to some degree, Watson said, depending on their specific role. The employer encourages the policy as both a recruiting and retention tool, and with the shortage of skilled workers in healthcare, every recruiting advantage is welcomed. Employees like the benefit as well.

[See also: Immigration reform may solve long-term care worker shortage ]

Employees work out a detailed work arrangement with their immediate supervisor, including number of days that can be worked remotely, which days those are, and what is expected for work on those days. To qualify to work from home or remotely, employees must be in good standing and they must agree to all of the same device security at home that they have at work, said Watson.

Watson acknowledges that productivity and performance management are always top concerns with any remote-based employees. Texas Health requires that every employee establish a set of performance goals at the beginning of the year, and uses an online performance management tool to assure that each employee is staying on track.

Putting performance management tools in place is an important step in managing remote workers, but there is a danger in relying on them too much, said Dan Enthoven, vice president at Enkata, an employee optimization software provider that works with clients such as Cigna and Aetna.

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