For the Good of the Enterprise: The Journey to Centralized Healthcare Staffing

Hospitals have become conditioned to functioning in staffing and scheduling silos (unit-based scheduling). When managers and staff follow staffing practices simply because it has “always been done this way,” it narrows their horizons and they become more resistant to change.

Working in silos prevents transparency, increases an organization’s labor spend, and damages staff morale – an inefficient practice with costly repercussions.

You might be saying, “That’s not correct. No one understands the staffing needs of my department better than I do.” And, you might be right. However, as health systems continue to grow and expand, the effects of a silo staffing mentality are magnified, and every department or unit operating independently is simply not efficient.

Instead of viewing each unit as its own entity, healthcare organizations are encouraged to adopt an enterprise mentality – a more cost-effective and efficient approach to staffing. This approach requires shared vision and organizational cooperation extending to all applicable service lines, sharing resources and aligning policies and operational practices. Working together as one cohesive team across the enterprise reduces redundancies and delivers economies of scale.

PREMIUM CONTENT: IT staffing in the healthcare industry

Fundamental to the concept of healthcare enterprise labor management, a centralized resource management center (RMC) is one of the most effective ways of controlling costs through economies of scale, consistent application of policies, and proactive identification of needs and improved coordination of resources against real-time demand across the system.

Serving as a communication hub, resource analysts in the RMC collaborate with clinical leaders to manage employee throughput against patient throughput. The resource analysts take on administrative support tasks, freeing clinical managers to focus on patient care and staff development. With a thirty-thousand-foot view of what is happening within the enterprise, and with the help of a clinical decision maker(s), the RMC strives to place the right person at the right place at the right time.

A properly positioned and designed RMC is a conduit through which all other strategies can be enacted. But the journey toward a new staffing approach isn’t met without hurdles. Breaking out of silos is often a difficult task and requires a culture shift when put into practice. To help ensure a smooth transition, there are several areas that should be nurtured.

Core to implementing any significant change is strong organizational alignment. This enables change to occur due to a culture of personal accountability and the commitment everyone shares in achieving organizational goals and quality patient care. Strong organizational alignment commands buy-in, leaving no other option than to be onboard with strategic initiatives.

Strong organizational alignment is supported by clear communication extending from leadership to all employees. Being transparent about initiatives and communicating action plans keeps staff aligned with organizational goals and earns their trust.

For unit managers and directors who have spent years learning the ins and outs of their departments and know their staff, it’s a significant change in mindset to view staffing with an enterprise mentality. Cross-collaboration between leadership and department managers is necessary for a centralized staffing approach to be successful. The organization must work together across all facilities and departments to align their strategies and review outcomes. Leaders should know just as much about other departments as they do their own, as they regularly share ideas and successes with one another.

Shifting how staff is viewed as a resource and adopting an enterprise labor management mentality does not happen overnight. It takes clear and consistent communication from leadership to explain the reason for the change and the benefits of its expected outcomes. Success with centralized staffing is a result of a foundation of best practices, cultural acceptance, transparency, schedule automation, and continual monitoring of metrics and refinement.

Jackie Larson

Jackie Larson
Jackie Larson is president of Avantas, a provider of workforce management technology, services, and strategies for the healthcare industry.

Jackie Larson

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