Purpose-Driven Healthcare HR: 3 Best Practices
What’s your organization’s purpose? It likely includes keeping people healthy, but if you ask your organizational leaders what your purpose is, you might get different answers, and that can be a challenge. Healthcare organizations that have a clear purpose and work toward it together will find it easier to make improvements and achieve success.
“There’s so much focus in healthcare organizations on regulation and requirements for reimbursement that providers can sometimes feel like spending time on documentation, billing, reporting and paperwork is more important than focusing on their patients,” says Sylvie Stacy, a preventive-medicine physician and business consultant. “Purpose-driven leadership in healthcare needs to emphasize the overarching goal of creating a healthier population that is less affected by disease. This helps them to maintain a patient-centric focus and also assists with understanding why a lot of regulations and requirements have been put in place.”
Here’s how healthcare HR can take the lead on maintaining a purpose-driven organization.
Many people don't know their organization’s mission or how their roles fit into that purpose, says Leah Weiss, a purpose expert and a lecturer at the Stanford Business School. Healthcare HR can start the conversation by asking employees in various roles what they consider to be the purpose of the organization and how their own personal and professional goals fit in, Weiss says.
Then, activate your employee-communication channels to highlight the importance of purpose-driven work. “HR can play a major role by sharing specific examples of how healthcare work can be purpose-driven in all roles, from the janitor to very top-level employees,” Weiss says. Finally, make sure compassion is front and center in all communications. “Compassion and decreasing suffering is the ‘why’ of medicine,” she says. When those two things get lost, everyone suffers, including employees, patients and the bottom line.
Onboard With Purpose
Hiring is another excellent opportunity for healthcare HR to build a purpose-driven organization, Stacy says. “One of the best ways for a healthcare company to ensure it’s building and supporting a purpose-driven organization is to have an in-depth and well-designed new-employee orientation,” she says. Too often, healthcare organizations put new employees to work right away at full capacity, without giving them a chance to understand the purpose and goals of the organization, she says.
When a typical clinically minded employee in healthcare thinks about an "orientation," the things that first come to mind are HIPAA compliance, proper biohazard disposal, universal precautions and patient safety, Stacy says. “HR personnel have a much broader idea of what needs to take center stage during the orientation process to cultivate purpose-driven employees.” If they don't receive support in spending the time and resources for a comprehensive, front-loaded orientation program, they can try working in bits and pieces throughout the first weeks and months of a new employee’s tenure, she says.
Align on All Levels
Sometimes, an individual’s professional purpose is different than that of the organization. In these instances, it’s vital that HR give employees a chance to examine their own motivations and determine how they fit into the bigger picture. “Purpose-driven integrity results from aligning insights both from the private conversations inside leaders’ heads and hearts and the trust-building conversations leaders hold with other people,” says Shelly Francis, Marketing and Communications Director at the Center for Courage & Renewal, which provides development programs to healthcare leaders, among others.
HR can create professional development opportunities that give employees a chance to unplug from the daily routine long enough to reflect on their own purpose-driven passions, Francis says. “When people have a chance to recall and remember why they went into medicine in the first place, it helps them reconnect to their commitments for the long haul, rather than be overwhelmed and discouraged by the immediate volatile, complex conditions.”