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The Workforce Management team should play a key role in strategic planning for 2019

Healthcare organizations today face a myriad of workforce planning issues, from shortages of skilled personnel to needs for improved diversity and inclusion. As budget planning season moves into full-swing, HR-related topics need their moment in the spotlight. Solutions requiring capital investment need to be discussed with an open mind. Workforce management has become a strategic issue in healthcare. Hence, the team bearing responsibility for juggling the issues deserves a spot at the planning table.


Defining the problem

Every healthcare organization understands the value of personal relationships in wellness, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery–yet the workforce doesn’t always get the budget-backing it needs. Of course, equipment, supplies, and logistical elements, from wheelchairs to beds, are important to carrying out daily care routines, but people make—or break—the systems.


Creative problem-solving can address some workforce planning issues, such as the need to recruit highly specialized workers that are in high demand. HBR reports that 60% of the jobs in the 21st century require skills possessed by only 20% of the workforce. Filling those positions will not be easy. A Deloitte report explains how high-demand positions likely will be filled: 37% of respondents will turn to outside contractors, 33% foresee an increase in freelancers, and 28% expect growth in gig or project-based workers.
Tips for success:

  1. Think out of the box for recruiting.

Recruiting a skilled workforce can be a challenge. Hiring managers may need to look beyond the traditional tactics to identify and recruit employees with high potential. Jobs might be out-sourced to third parties or personnel may be asked to work as contractors. Turning to groups like returning veterans or recent retirees or may be other ideas to explore.


  1. Align short-term and long-term workforce planning.

Some issues require stop-gap solutions and others require more complex, lasting solutions. The ability to discern between the two comes from strategic insights, data, and predictive analytics. Modern workforce planning tools, integrated to business intelligence tools, help HR professionals formulate solutions which meet objectives, while staying within logistical parameters.


  1. Demand precision in your capacity requirements planning.

Modern IT capabilities with business intelligence, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) play an important role in foreseeing future needs. The tech-savvy HR professional will be able to develop a granular view of projected labor capacity requirements and go beyond projecting generalized hunches about evolving skillsets. BI tools will help managers address complex issues, such as the tradeoff between reskilling existing workers vs. hiring new recruits.

  1. Deploy modern workforce planning technology and data analytics
    Many organizations are trying to stretch the lifespan of outdated technology and cobble together disparate point solutions trying to postpone investment. Outdated technology falls short on capabilities and forces professionals to make do with static spreadsheets, pseudo-accurate projections, and late nights of number-crunching and manually charting reports.


Closing thoughts

Workforce issues today are complex with high stakes. Workforce planning needs to be elevated to a strategic position within the healthcare organization, receiving support from the top executives and appropriate funding. Legacy, patched solutions are unlikely to have the functionality needed to take on today’s planning needs and keep pace with change. Modern thinking, including turning to AI and predictive analytics, will be an important part of recruiting and retaining the workforce of the future. The right workforce is essential for providing smart patient care while being fiscally responsible.



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