What Makes a Successful Healthcare Talent Management Strategy?

Senior Director of Marketing

A strong talent management strategy is essential to achieving your healthcare organization’s mission.

When you hire, promote, develop and compensate in a way that matches your mission, you’ll build alignment across departments and levels. It’s possible to manage these factors piecemeal, but without an overarching understanding of your organization’s culture and mission, the different pieces won’t fit together well, says Eric Dickerson, Managing Director at Kaye/Bassman International, where he oversees recruiting in academic medicine.

Here’s how to build a strong talent management strategy that upholds and strengthens your mission.

Clarify Mission and Values

Ensure your culture is strong, as it will inform your talent management strategy. Are people clear on mission and values? Do organizational leaders uphold them?

“The wonderful thing about hospitals and healthcare organizations is that their missions are generally pretty clear: Taking care of the patient,” says Devin Lemoine, President of Success Labs, a management consulting firm whose clients include large hospitals. But many factors have made it difficult for healthcare organizations to put their mission first: healthcare reform, talent shortages, increased demand for care from an aging population, changes in reimbursement and other issues.

“The mission may be the same, but who gets you there is changing,” Lemoine says. Work with other leaders to reaffirm the organization’s mission and values, and then recognize that the personalities and skills you hired and retained for in the past may not be what your organization needs in the future.

Identify Needs and Challenges

Healthcare HR leaders should work with other departments to determine the direction of the organization in the coming years. Will you be facing quick growth? Is the organization expecting to move into new specialties? Are there budgetary concerns or a large construction initiative on the horizon? These factors and others will affect your talent management strategy, and healthcare HR leaders need to be ready for them.

“Use these business factors to shape your strategy,” says John Short, National Accounts Development Executive with Fortus Group, a healthcare staffing agency. Work with other departments and leaders to get a picture of where more or different staff will be needed. Pay particular attention to the types of managers you will need to reach your goals. Be realistic about projected growth and the staffing needs to meet it. If you are relying on improved retention rates to hit a certain staffing level, for example, ensure you have a plan to boost those rates.

Pay Attention to the Whole Picture

“Talent management strategy” often makes healthcare HR leaders think about acquiring talent, Dickerson says, but it’s so much more than that. Performance management, compensation and benefits, recognition and rewards, engagement and retention all are a part of a strong talent management strategy.

If you feel overwhelmed, go back to your mission, which sets the tone of the culture of your organization. “All of these things feed into it,” Dickerson says. If your mission is something along the lines of “the patient before anything else,” for example, let it inform the way you reward your employees and look for top talent. If it’s something more along the lines of “patient care through innovation,” rewards, retention and performance management will look very different.

Tweak as Needed

Healthcare moves quickly, and your talent management strategy will need adjustments as tech, staffing needs, values, leaders and other factors change. Set your strategy and use it as a guide, but don’t be afraid to change it when it’s clear it doesn’t serve you anymore

Many healthcare HR organizations look for ways to offload administrative tasks so they can focus entirely on strategic decisions. For example, Short says there’s less of a stigma in using third-party recruiters to find qualified candidates when sourcing. A strong talent strategy can help your talent management partners serve you better as well, he says.

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