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6 Trends That Will Affect Your Entry-Level, Non-Clinical Healthcare Workforce

1 – Workforce Logistic Changes and Staffing Preparations Due to COVID-19

Training entry-level staff to stay safe in the hospital is a big trend this summer. As furloughed entry-level workers go back to work, they will need to know the safest way to work when every surface is a potential hiding place for COVID-19. Training for sanitation and environmental entry-level roles may change as viral surface cleaning methods are even more stringent. Employee screenings for sick or exposed staff are happening, usually virtually, in order to screen associates for health implications before shifts.

Furloughs and staff layoffs obviously are already happening in many U.S. hospitals with non-emergency elective procedures at a standstill. Atrius Health in Massachusetts for example is temporarily closing many offices and placing many non-clinical employees on furlough.  No one knows what will happen this Summer or Fall, but history shows that a non-vaccinated virus can have secondary spikes, more probable in cooler weather. Organizations are relocating staff from a variety of other care sites like outpatient procedural areas, ambulatory care sites, and low volume clinics to address staffing needs in ICU’s and higher priority locations.

2 – New Digital Interaction Jobs

With changes in technology, and younger consumers preferring digital interaction, hospitals will be challenged to prepare Frontline workers with jobs that don’t even exist yet – think Administrative or Medical Records roles that involve Social Media outreach and interaction. Digital interaction will also change Medical Assistant and Technician roles as they deal with Teledoc customers and keeping health records organized. These changes are expected as care moves away from few large hospitals to quick-care and community-based health centers.

As hospitals become more invested in social media and engaging patients online, entry-level workers will need to be trained on how to provide positive customer experiences in a virtual setting. If your system hasn’t started a social media strategy yet, this will probably soon change. Patients will begin to shop for healthcare the way they shop for cars or electrician services—by searching the Internet, looking for quality metrics and patient reviews, and comparing prices.

Chatbots are another digital trend, and they might replace some administrative type roles. But that doesn’t mean Frontline workers in these positions will necessarily be replaced. Rather, their role will change to meet the new demands of other types of technology – analyzing data from wearables, teaching patients how to use wearables at home, and moderating Telehealth forums to interject and provide patient care when the Chatbot is unable to resolve a question or issue.

3 – Retail Mindset in Healthcare, and Workforce

A direct impact of patient centered care and “retail” inspiration may require additional interpersonal skill training. These are the soft skills of personal interactions, and ultimately drive health system brand loyalty. Quick care health locations in retail centers are popping up, including shopping malls and Walgreens, and existing hospitals are taking inspiration from the retail environment to improve the customer experience – for example, Frontline staff walking the floor and using iPads for check-in instead of the traditional desk.

A retail mindset will create shifting expectations of how Frontline staff interact with patients; to do this, hospitals will use retail best practices to train employees. While broadening the skill set of eligible employees can be a good thing for hospitals, it’s also likely to increase turnover – an unfortunate result of this soft skill “retail” training is more employees could move back and forth between the health and retail industries as skills become more transferable.

4 – Virtual Training for Employees – More Important than Ever Amid COVID-19

Virtual employee training affects nearly every job category, even entry-level staff. As we move forward through (and past) the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual training for employee safety will be more important than ever. As healthcare moves to smaller locations with quick care being a core theme, virtual training and self-taught modules will continue to be a key upskilling format. Aside from merely showing employees best practices and social skills, digital/virtual training programs will be challenged to come up with authentic ways to evaluate these skills – perhaps through virtual group meetings, virtual role play, or  interactions in virtual reality.

5 – Automation Could Threaten Some Entry-Level Jobs in Healthcare

While frontline roles often require direct patient interaction, some are still subject to being replaced by automation, including cooks and information clerks. Twenty percent of companies have already deployed chatbots in the workplace and 57% are anticipated to do so by 2021. This technology could disrupt traditional hospital customer service jobs. Companies are using chatbots as personal assistants, for on-demand customer support, to mine data, streamline business processes, recover product information and to answer employee questions.

Interrupting entry-level employment situations at hospitals could interfere with traditional career pipelines to manager roles, so have development and succession plans ready, even at this level, in preparation for a more automated work environment.

6 – Upskilling and Alternative Job Perks – (They Could be One and the Same)

Higher pay will always have appeal, but some hospitals are getting creative with alternative perks as a way to reduce turnover. For example, employee assistance with loans, free meals, time off, and affordable onsite childcare options can resonate. As an example of alternative perks, Advocate Healthcare (IL) offers its Advancing Careers Through Education program which provides 100-percent tuition reimbursement for programs in high-demand specialties, such as nursing, respiratory care, or health information technology. Another example hospital, Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago provides concierge services for daily errands. Plus, employees with children on the college hunt can use Lurie Children’s college coaching program, in which a counselor helps families with the school selection, application and financial processes. And Lurie Children’s even offers up to $5,000 for adoption assistance and tuition reimbursement.

Upskilling will be increasingly important as technology/automation replace some jobs at hospitals. To prepare for this, healthcare facilities can take inspiration from AT&T, who reached out to employees in roles that were soon to be obsolete, and advised them to start taking action to learn new skills before roles were eventually eliminated. AT&T offered 100,000 employees in such positions corporate assistance and training to re-direct their employment to more relevant and long term roles.

 

It goes without saying that our world is changing in the face of COVID-19. As US Health Systems are tackling these many new challenges, they must continue keep those who are toughing it out on the frontlines engaged. To read about 9 techniques that US health systems are already using to engage entry level associates, check out our article “9 Ways Hospitals can Support Frontline Healthcare Workers, and Create a Winning Culture!”

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BONUS – All About Nursing with Dr. Joyce Batcheller

Dr. Joyce Batcheller is an Executive Nurse Advisor with The Center for the Advancement of Healthcare Professionals for AMN Healthcare and is responsible for the development and delivery of two Chief Nursing Officer Academies: CNO Academy I, which was developed for new and aspiring CNOs and CNO Academy II, which was developed for experienced CNOs. Having served as a Chief Nursing Officer for more than 19 years in one of the largest healthcare providers in Central Texas, she has extensive experience in leading large system changes within a complex multi-hospital organization.

Dr. Batcheller’s podcast, “All About Nursing” explains how nurses play a significant role in providing healthcare in multiple care settings. You will be able to hear from some of these key nurses who work in practice, academia and other practice settings. You will hear about challenges nurses are engaged in as healthcare continues to experience an unprecedented need to decrease costs and improve outcomes. Recently, Dr. Batcheller interviewed Robyn Begley CEO of AONL and Kim Glassman who is leading work in NYC related to COVID-19. Listen to the podcast here.

 

Sources

  • “COVID-19 Hits Some Health Care Workers With Pay Cuts and Layoffs,” NPR, Martha Bebinger, April 2, 2020
  • Healthcare Employment Data 2016-2026, U.S. Bureau of Labor
  • “Seven Learning and Development Trends to Adopt in 2019,” Forbes September 24, 2018, Cameron Bischop/Forbes Human Resources Council
  • “5 Best Hospitals to Work for in 2018,” Indeed.com and Beckers Hospital Review publication, August 31 2018, Alyssa Rege
  • “These are the Fastest Growing Healthcare Careers,” May 22 2018, Hospital Recruiting Magazine, Crystal Jones RN
  • “Employment Training for the Healthcare Industry,” Training Today
  • “Top 8 Healthcare Predictions for 2018,” Forbes November 13 2018, Reenita Das

Increasing Frontline Employee Engagement (With a Small Budget)

High employee engagement is critical for success in U.S. hospitals and clinics where customer service is crucial. Engagement is more than just a “feel good” public relations objective. It’s about encouraging and facilitating the staff who serve patients, families, and internal customers to be their best and most energetic selves.

High engagement is also crucial for retention and reduction of absenteeism, and during times of full employment this is more important than ever.  But what can be done to increase engagement, especially with tight budgets and pressures to do more with less?

The first thing is to make engagement a part of day-to-day culture:

  • Show employees you care instead of just saying it
  • Celebrate the good stuff that happens and challenges that are overcome
  • Recognize milestones, make positive recognition part of the work
  • Remind everyone on work teams that there’s a human side to our workplace experience
  • Encourage managers to be empathetic while getting work done

 

Build organizational practices which support, maintain, and grow engagement. Open your organization up for feedback from employees, especially entry-level associates who may feel like they don’t have a say in company matters. Consider creating an associate-led committee so there is always input on the pulse of the organization.  Also give employees feedback. By making feedback a natural and planned part of work life, organizations can give engagement a serious boost.

Another key tactic in increasing frontline employee engagement lies in associates’ relationship with their manager and how they are coached and encouraged.  Health systems are looking for associates who will perform, grow, and provide good customer service, and this happens when their managers are partners who enable. Old school top-down supervisory relationships are becoming a relic.  Huddles and training opportunities provide a forum for associates to interact and receive positive coaching. For more on this topic, see our related article “Frontline Employees: Coaching For Success.”

 

Leaders should also offer learning and development tools that support associate improvement and growth. This not only leads to more productive employees, but it also shows that the health system is interested in employees’ futures, boosting motivation. Be sure managers are communicating about internal training tools, learning & development, and apprenticeships. Communicate roles that are high priority needs of the system and any assistance that can be provided to help frontline employees with skills or accreditation needed to obtain those roles. Have a career path conversation with your entry-level associates before they are having that conversation with another employer.

 

Your frontline employees are the voice and spirit of your organization to patients and families.  To infuse employee engagement into the heart of an organization, even with a small budget, root these “blocking and tackling” techniques right into the regular operations of your organization. 

 

“7 Tips to Increase Employee Engagement Without Spending a Dime,” Society for Human Resources, Tamara Lytle, September 2016

“Top Five Budget-Friendly Employee Engagement Strategies,” Forbes, Char Newell, August 2018

“Employee Engagement Doesn’t Require a Huge Budget,” Cornerstone on Demand, Shayne Thomas, January 2020

“The 5 Most Successful Employee Engagement Strategies,” Onpoint Consulting, August 2019

“5 Steps Managers Should Be Taking After Employee Performance Reviews,” Susan Jeffery, June 2019

 

Are you familiar with CLiMB®? CLiMB supports the professional development for your entry and mid-level healthcare workers. CLiMB is an online library of focused microlearnings focused on actionable, scenario-based learning in basic professionalism, communication, using time wisely, and providing exceptional customer service. CLiMB teaches from real-world scenarios which frontline employees face in U.S. health systems. It includes tool to incorporate microlearning into onboarding, huddles and manager-employee coaching conversations. Contact Us to learn more.

Google’s Best Managers Excel at Coaching?!

In 2002, Google took a bold step and got rid of its engineering managers. According to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, the idea was to allow its engineers, who didn’t see the value of managers, to focus on the tech and “not communicating with bosses or supervising other workers’ progress.”

The short-lived experiment wasn’t successful. Founder Larry Page was inundated with problems and questions from the company’s engineers that had nothing to do with technology; issues a manager typically addresses.

Page and co-founder Sergey Brin quickly saw the value of managers, but realized they needed their employees to see it as well. As a company founded on data and analytics, it decided to bring in a team of experts to prove it “with the same empirical discipline Google applied to its business operations.”

The team’s initial research found the proof they needed. Statistical evaluations showed that “high-scoring managers” had lower turnover. They also found “a tight connection between managers quality and workers happiness.”

The next step was finding out what made a “good” manager. Based on their data, they uncovered “eight key behaviors demonstrated by the company’s most effective managers.” Number one? Being a good coach.

The full list of behaviors:

He or she…
1. Is a good coach
2. Empowers the team and does not micromanage
3. Expresses interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being
4. Is productive and results-oriented
5. Is a good communicator—listens and shares information
6. Helps with career development
7. Has a clear vision and strategy for the team
8. Has key technical skills that help him or her advise the team

The problem, according to a related HBR article, is that managers often lack the time and skills to be more effective coaches. “Yet 70% of employee learning and development happens on the job, not through formal training programs,” the author notes. “So if line managers aren’t supportive and actively involved, employee growth is stunted. So is engagement and retention.”

How to drive the change

Not all companies have the resources available to Google to study effective management, but they can apply the results. Healthcare organizations in which managers are trained on (and expected to use) these behaviors and skills can gain a competitive edge when it comes to hiring and retaining workers. It’s particularly important when it comes to frontline employees, where turnover is high and engagement can be low.

In an article on “The Balance Careers,” executive coach Dan McCarthy notes that “Coaching is the skill and art of helping someone improve their performance and reach their full potential.” He emphasizes that it takes practice, but “it’s an investment in people that has a higher return than just about any other management skill.”

When managers become more competent coaches, McCarthy explains that everyone reaps the benefits. “People learn, they develop, performance improves, people are more satisfied and engaged, and organizations are more successful.”

At Google, the information drawn from its multi-year research was used to help identify ways in which managers could improve. A manager who didn’t score well on coaching “might get a recommendation to take a class on how to deliver personalized, balanced feedback.”

Offering courses that help managers build the coaching skills they need is a sound investment in your employees and organization. Even short sessions can help managers significantly improve their skills. The experts on the invitation-only Forbes Coaches Council (FCC) also recommend formal training, but they encourage managers to develop their own coaching skills.

Forbes Coaching Council (FCC)

Based on their experience helping companies such as Nike, Johnson & Johnson and Mattel integrate coaching into their management framework, the FCC experts share their collective coaching wisdom with Forbes’ readers. Their suggestions include:

1. Know your employees and help them succeed
Several of the experts emphasized the importance of this. “Show interest in an employee’s life and how it affects their performance,” suggests one. Another says ensuring the success of every employee should be a top priority for every effective manager.

2. Practice active listening
“As a manager, you can practice this skill by simply being quiet and letting your associate talk without agenda or interruption,” advises one expert. “Resist filling an awkward silence — that’s where the gold is.”
The key is to stay focused on the person, and not the ever-present distractions of calls, texts, or emails. One coach recommends heading outside for one-on-one discussions.

3. Don’t tell, ask
Allowing employees to have input and make suggestions helps them develop critical thinking skills and builds confidence. A question such as “Why is that the best solution” is a better approach than telling employees what to do. It “allows the employees to take ownership of their ideas and think through the outcomes.”

Another expert recommends asking some questions regularly. “What’s going on with you right now? What’s going well? What’s not going well?” He solicits their input on what happens next and asks one last question.”Finally, what can I do to set you up for success?”

Research shows, and the experts agree, that successfully managing frontline employees isn’t based on telling them what to do. It’s about providing guidance and support, and removing the barriers that prevent them from doing their jobs well. Managers that excel in coaching employees instead of micromanaging them tend to have better performers, and that makes the organization stronger overall.

Sources:

“How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management.” Harvard Business Review. David A. Garvin
https://hbr.org/2013/12/how-google-sold-its-engineers-on-management

“You Can’t Be a Great Manager If You’re Not a Good Coach” Harvard Business Review. Monique Valcour

https://hbr.org/2014/07/you-cant-be-a-great-manager-if-youre-not-a-good-coach

“10 Ways To Lead Like A Coach.” Forbes. April 6, 2018. Forbes Coaches Council.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/04/06/10-ways-to-lead-like-a-coach/#67eba85d30fa

“How Managers Can Become Effective Coaches of Employees.” The Balance Careers. December 14, 2018. Dan McCarthy.

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-managers-can-become-awesome-coaches-2275926

Frontline Employees: Coaching For Success

Hit the ball, make the shot, row in unison. Understanding the basics of any team sport is easy, but if knowing the requirements of the game was all it took to succeed, everyone could play in the major leagues. To be a top athlete, it takes time, talent and dedication, but even those elements may not be enough.

Regardless of the sport, the one thing all teams have in common is a coach. The coach’s job is to bring out the best in every player and provide the guidance they need to not only play well but to function as a team. It’s a critical role in the sports world, but it’s equally important in business, especially with frontline jobs where pay is low and turnover is high.

As healthcare organizations struggle to retain hourly workers, the key to success isn’t found in a thicker training manual or additional policies and procedures; it’s in helping frontline employees develop all of the skills needed to succeed. While employees may understand the tasks they need to perform in their daily job, they may struggle with more basic concepts such as time management or communication.

A good manager helps frontline employees learn these and other soft skills because it makes the workers more effective in their jobs and more satisfied with the work they do. The result is employees who are more engaged and far less likely to be looking for a new job.

The American Management Association emphasized the importance of coaching in a recent article, noting that it’s “the most effective way for managers to lead” and is now a “core skill required of every successful manager in the 21st century.” It goes on to say that if managers don’t acquire these skills “it is unlikely that they will be able to achieve sustainable long-term positive results for themselves or their organizations.”

One of the barriers, according to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, is that “managers tend to think they’re coaching when they’re actually just telling their employees what to do.” The authors analyzed managers’ coaching skills through self-assessments and expert evaluations before and after leadership skills training.

Before leadership training, managers tended to overestimate their coaching abilities. They saw coaching as listing and directing the steps employees needed to take to accomplish tasks; but effective coaching isn’t about directing, it’s about helping employees learn.

In fact, many aspects of successful coaching are based on principles of adult learning. A Rutgers University article on adult learners noted that, in general, “Adults cannot simply act as passive receptacles of others’ expertise as children often do.”

Instead, the Rutgers’ article points out that “adult students prefer a self-directed approach that allows for discovery on their own.” It also notes that adults typically respond better to learning a concept if they understand why they need to learn it in the first place. (For more information on Adult Learning Theory, read our related article, Health Industry Employee Training – 6 Key Principles)

To assess managers’ coaching skills, the authors of the HBR article identified nine core leadership coaching skills that follow these adult learning principles:

1. assisting with goal setting
2. letting the coachee arrive at their own solution
3. listening
4. questioning
5. giving feedback
6. showing empathy
7. recognizing and pointing out strengths
8. providing structure
9. encouraging a solution-focused approach

These skills allow managers to help employees understand “the why” and they allow for self-discovery. Even when it targets one area such as time management, effective coaching for frontline employees helps associates build foundational skills that will be beneficial in other areas.

What all this means to healthcare organizations is that employee training needs to focus on more than the hard skills required for the job at hand. Helping employees improve decision-making, problem solving, conflict resolution and other soft skills is just as important, if not more important than task oriented training. It doesn’t just help frontline workers become better in their current role; it helps them become better employees in any position.

Read more about adult learning principles.

“Most Managers Don’t Know How to Coach People. But They Can Learn.” Harvard Business Review. August 14, 2018. Julia Milner, Trenton Milner
https://hbr.org/2018/08/most-managers-dont-know-how-to-coach-people-but-they-can-learn
“Five Ways to Transform Managers Into Coaches.” American Management Association. Mike Noble
https://www.amanet.org/training/articles/five-ways-to-transform-managers-into-coaches.aspx
“The Principles of Adult Learning Theory.” Rutgers University.
https://online.rutgers.edu/blog/principles-of-adult-learning-theory/