The coronavirus pandemic is putting unprecedented pressure on healthcare systems and workers. While healthcare leaders respond to the immediate threats facing them — skills shortages, burnout, stress and resourcing challenges —they must also prepare for the future by building resilient and agile workforces that can respond quickly to incoming changes and future crisis scenarios.
To achieve this, leaders will have to understand their workforces in granular detail. They will have to build lasting relationships with their workers — especially contingent workers who are brought on temporarily to plug current skills gaps.
Building a contingent talent pool will help to create a more responsive workforce that can adapt to upswings in demand caused by epidemics, the aging population, or other localized health concerns. This goes beyond recruiting the contingent talent, to investing in the right technology that supports them and hiring managers, and also adapting communications to constantly engage with them.
Collaborating based on competency. Healthcare systems need mobility and collaboration to survive crisis situations. In the current pandemic, European nations are collaborating by sharing resources and workers across borders, where they are needed most. “We can only overcome the coronavirus crisis together. Life-saving cooperation between Member States is key,” says Stella Kyriakides, EU commissioner responsible for health and food safety explains. “EU solidarity has been tangible over the past weeks with member states treating patients from their neighbors, even when stretched themselves.”
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However, effective collaboration is underpinned by a detailed understanding of role requirements and a worker’s competency. By linking the two, people can be more effectively mobilized into roles based on their experience and skills — improving patient outcomes.
Maintaining emotional well-being. The current crisis has also led to unparalleled levels of stress and burnout, which lead to increased attrition, sick-leave and associated skills shortages. In the UK, nearly half of doctors (44%) are suffering from burnout, depression or anxiety because of the pandemic. Fifty-one percent don’t feel personally supported by their employers or the government. These individuals are at risk of attrition, now and post-Covid-19.
As part of their duty of care, all employers should find ways to connect with individual workers and assess their stress levels. By caring for their emotional well-being, employers can build deeper relationships with every employee, permanent and contingent.
Distributing workload. Workload also plays a role in burnout and stress levels. Obviously, workload is at record levels. However, having more accurate visibility over worker availability and urgent roles in the future will help to distribute workload. People can be placed into critical roles as-needed, based on their skills, experience and availability. Matching algorithms can even automate some of this, making the process even more timely and efficient.
Having this workforce overview is even more important when temporarily mobilizing workers or engaging with contingent ones. In New York City, staffing shortages have led Mayor Bill de Blasio to propose a draft of healthcare workers, a “national effort to enlist doctors, nurses, hospital workers of all kinds and get them where they are needed most.” New York recently used its mobile emergency alert system to ask for healthcare volunteers; 80,000 retirees answered the call, alongside 1,000 military medics.
Meanwhile, nationwide, US hospitals are scrambling to retrain healthcare workers in other medical fields for the Covid-19 response and mobilize others in less-impacted states.
Retain for the long-term. This highlights another vital aspect of relationship-building with contingent workers: The people recruited temporarily now will hold continuous value to an organization in the future.
Now that healthcare organizations are rapidly upscaling their workforces, take the time to consider the next steps for each contingent worker, and discuss their aspirations. If there’s alignment between your organization’s goals and their career goals, it could be the start of a long-lasting working relationship.
Creating future-ready workforces. Healthcare leaders have an opportunity today to engage with the talent that will drive their organization’s future. Many advantages will come to organizations that have the right skills available, on-demand workforces, and the ability to adapt to change.
This all begins with the relationship between a contingent worker and their employer. Where a worker feels loyal toward an employer because they feel supported in their work and well-being. And where employers understand the people who work for them and where they can be placed to do their best work.