What Business, Life, and Academia Can Teach Healthcare Providers
This year, AHCA released a report analyzing the state of staffing in the nursing home industry. That report projected a recovery to pre-pandemic staffing levels by 2026. This dire projection is based on recovery matching the rate at which jobs are currently being filled.
What can leaders do to accelerate workforce recovery and ease the burden on those who have stayed?
Two approaches are dominating the discussion. First, technology must be adopted that enhances the quality of life for employees, so they spend less time doing administrative tasks and more time doing what they joined this industry to do—caring for people.
Secondly, companies need to create environments that support employees with more than lightweight perks. Workplaces need to open more doors, spend more time listening to employees at every level, and better support professional development.
Step 1: Replace Monotony with Automation
It’s no secret that the administrative burden on clinicians and caregivers in healthcare as a whole is significant. In a variety of reports, nurses report spending 50% of their time on documentation, and 50% of physicians report burnout driven by excessive administrative duties.
Among nursing unit managers in Australia, hiring administrative assistants was associated with significant improvements in the culture of the organization, staffing satisfaction and retention, and well-being of nursing unit managers. Clinical staff in many countries across healthcare attribute the ‘paperwork burden’ to feeling dissatisfied in their roles, and report it is a significant factor in their inability to spend more time with their patients.
Today’s facilities and corporate offices need to be adopting technology that automates the mundane and monotonous. Freeing up time for care staff means they can spend more time with their residents. After all, the care they provide is fundamentally the reason why post-acute care (PAC) and long-term care (LTC) facilities exist.
One important thing to consider when adopting any new technology is how well it can be integrated into your current ecosystem. Managers must consider the degree of training required and test any new platform—preferably with people from different verticals—paying close attention to any friction points and how intuitive its user interface is.
A poorly designed piece of technology can create bottlenecks in productivity and further stress your staff, whose time has become increasingly precious.
In a majority of use cases, technology that automates mundane, repetitive tasks—especially in clinical settings—can provide tremendous relief for staff in our industry. Beyond reducing the workload for staff, well-executed automation decreases errors by standardizing processes. Robots never tire, and neither does intelligent code performing a set of defined tasks no one signed up to do when they joined your facility.
Step 2: Creating Value for Employees
Perhaps more important than any tool in battling turnover and attracting much-needed talent into our industry is a sincerely welcoming atmosphere and organizational structures that allow staff to be heard, supported, and solve pain points they routinely face.
This may appear a lofty ideal for administrators and operators focused on the large-scale recovery of PAC and LTC facilities, but staff satisfaction and engagement are inseparable from operational success.
Purpose Drives Engagement
Connecting an organization’s purpose to a person’s work has been shown to improve their happiness and engagement. Conversely, employees surveyed who felt they had less purpose in work also reported feeling less energetic and satisfied. At work, that correlated with less engagement, connection, and excitement.
Achieving this is not as simple as putting your organization’s mission statement up on the walls. Instead, give managers the tools they need to engage with their teams and speak intimately about the purpose of the company. In LTC, this would look like communicating to everyone—from hospitality staff to clinicians—the importance of their role in the facility.
70% of employees say their sense of purpose is driven by their work
Managers should make time to meet with staff to understand what makes them tick and give them opportunities to take on tasks outside of their core purview they find satisfying and make the most of their particular skills and interests.
Ownership Promotes Satisfaction
Regardless of the industry, cultivating a sense of ownership within teams and across the workforce is closely tied to improved engagement and satisfaction. Achieving this involves:
- Creating an environment where employees can work to their greatest potential, and
- Giving employees opportunities to suggest solutions for the problems they face most often
Delegating decisions to those who see the results of managerial actions offers employees the opportunity to give feedback from their perspective at the ground level. People participating in decisions that directly impact their daily work are far more likely to be engaged feel more connected to their workplace.
In PAC and LTC, that means employees are given a platform to suggest ways they can deliver care more efficiently or spend more time with their residents. By combatting feelings of ambivalence—often caused by excessive workloads and unempathetic leaders—the overall functioning of a workplace or care facility can improve.
Career Advancement Programs Do More Than Empower
Giving employees opportunities to advance their careers has become an increasingly common tool for improving retention in healthcare. Offering employees an option to improve their earning power and professional responsibilities can bring incalculable good to an individual, their families, and the wider community.
To add extra context to the importance of career advancement programs in PAC and LTC, a significant number of employees in our industry hold second jobs and have caregiver roles outside of the workplace.
In today’s industry, giving employees opportunities to advance their education and credentials creates an onramp for new staff to realize greater career satisfaction and gain greater purpose. A person who has advanced from a caregiver to a licensed clinician through a tuition aid program provided by their employer is far more likely to refer new hires and amplify the mission of the organization.
SRX is a unified drug cost management solution for long-term care operators. We achieve unrivaled drug cost savings by combining our proprietary technology with expert advisors. SRX’s solutions automate drug rebates, optimize pharmacy management practices, increase managed care exclusion reimbursements, and provide cost-effective employee prescription benefits. SRX guarantees quarterly rebates are paid on time, every time, with no out-of-pocket cost.