Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Preparing for a Changing Workforce, Part I

I recently participated in an interview with Modern Healthcare about a report released by the American Hospital Association on how hospitals ought to prepare for future workforce shortage challenges. As we have always believed that our most important asset isn’t on our balance sheet, but is our Associates, it’s incredibly important to have the right people and the right number of people doing the right kinds of work. I thought it would be helpful to post here about how CHRISTUS approaches our workforce.

We work very hard to take three general approaches to personnel:

1) Hiring right. We have a process in place to describe who we are, and we communicate that if this is the kind of company you wish to join, then apply to work with us. As we go through interviewing process for key positions in our organization, we incorporate some psychological interviews to make sure that applicants are compatible with who we are.

2) Retention. We ensure that we orient new Associates thoroughly and correctly, so we know who they are and vice versa. It’s also important that they are familiar with our Associate Covenant, which explains what is expected of both CHRISTUS and our Associates. They also need to know how we ensure that we are delivering high quality, compassionate care in our health care ministries. This is one reason that new Associate orientation has been systemized, and is the same across our U.S. and Mexico facilities.

It is clear that most people leave their current positions because they don’t like their supervisors. Therefore, CHRISTUS prepares our leaders through a variety of programs such as the CHRISTUS Center for Management Excellence, which supervisors/managers complete in their first 3 months with CHRISTUS. In addition, because nursing is so critical, we have developed an additional course specifically for Nursing leaders called the CHRISTUS Center for management Excellence II for Nurse Leaders that aims to meet the development needs of our nurse leaders.

3) Engagement. While we have long monitored our retention and turnover rate, we recently added engagement, which is a measurement of “do people really like working there?” If CHRISTUS as an organization is doing what we should, then all our Associates should feel like part of the CHRISTUS family, and our facilities should be receiving awards that name them best places to work. CHRISTUS Muguerza Alta Especialidad Hospital in Monterrey Mexico has been named one of the Best Places to Work in Latin America, and CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System in Texarkana, Texas has been named repeatedly as a Best Place to Work by both Modern Healthcare and Texas Monthly.

These three approaches affect not only what we do today, but how we will continue to provide high quality care in the face of predicted workforce shortages. Next week, let’s continue this discussion by focusing on the changing workforce and how we deliver care.

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