4 Takeaways from the Inaugural WorkforceNEXT Healthcare Summit

4 Takeaways from the Inaugural WorkforceNEXT Healthcare Summit
Marketing Director

The inaugural WorkforceNEXT Healthcare Summit took place in the home of the Texas Medical Center, Houston, on January 9, 2018. As a sponsor and moderator, PreCheck was honored to play a special role at the event and to support our clients and the healthcare community who presented at the conference. This year’s theme was “Engaging and Transforming Healthcare Workforce and HR Leaders for the Future.” As you can gather from the conference learnings, company culture will be key for shaping the future of healthcare.

The following represent my top four takeaways from the inaugural conference.

1. How to Create a Culture of Caring

Company culture is a topic that is often discussed among human resources leaders, but it brings a special meaning for healthcare organizations. “People go into healthcare because they care,” Shibu Varghese, Chief Diversity Officer at MD Anderson Cancer Center, explained during his opening keynote presentation. “It’s really about the people. The workforce: the people that work at your organization. If you get that right, then all those other pieces fall into place.”

Promoting a culture of caring starts with focusing on your people, but how can healthcare employers go about it? Start by connecting employees to your mission. Additionally, take the time to develop good leaders at your organization. Varghese recommends focusing on the STEPP leadership ‘skills’.

Spotlight every interaction: Pay attention to details and make employees feel appreciated.
Trust your employees: Empower them to be great.
Energize your workforce: Help them take action.
Passion: Passion is contagious and can lead to thinking about purpose.
Purpose: Keeps employees engaged and excited about what they do.

2. Preparing Healthcare for the Future

Healthcare is constantly amidst a sea of change, but how can the industry prepare for future as far ahead as 2030? “Think systematically about the future and make better decisions about the present,” Rachel Maguire, Research Director at the Institute for the Future, suggests. “We all collectively make the future.”

As your healthcare organization plans for the world of the future, Maguire recommends focusing on the following three areas:

  1. Distributed Health: Assume that half of all healthcare work will occur outside of the hospital.
  2. Blended Expertise: Healthcare will move away from specialization and blended expertise will become the new knowledge and authority.
  3. Cryptographic Systems and Design: Crypto technologies are too critical a tool for improving health outcomes and patient care in the future.

3. Developing Your Healthcare Organization’s Culture

Change can be overwhelming in healthcare, but a panel of healthcare HR experts discussed ways to foster cultural change. To facilitate change, begin with the leadership team. “It starts with executives,” Scott Hopkins, Director of Leadership Development at CHRISTUS Health, suggests. “Make sure everyone is aligned and understands the strategy.”

Effective communication goes a long way in driving cultural change. “When you have something important to communicate, communicating one way is often insufficient,” Irene Helsinger, Director of Newport Board Group, explained. “When there’s something important, a little bit of repetition is okay and also try to use more than one method of communication because you will capture more people,” she says.

While change can be exciting, too much change can overwhelm your workforce or can lead to fatigue. “As you go through these changes, create a framework to explain why the change is being implemented,” John Freudenberger, CEO at OakBend Medical Center, recommended during the panel.  

4. Hiring for Skills and Cultural Fit Remains a Top Challenge

According to an on-site survey conducted by Waggl, an HR technology firm that offers employee feedback solutions, attendees overwhelmingly indicated that attracting talent that fits both skills and the culture of their organization was their top workforce challenge. Cultivating a culture that empowers employees to deliver higher quality care can help healthcare organizations achieve better outcomes. To overcome this challenge, healthcare employers should consider what their organization stands for, as we explain in a previous article discussing recruiting for the ‘right fit.’

The inaugural WorkforceNEXT Healthcare Summit highlighted the importance of culture for the success of healthcare leaders. By developing great leaders and cultivating a culture of caring, healthcare organizations can prepare their workforce for a brighter future.

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