Strategic human resource management:
Applications in a healthcare organization
It has been said that one of the great ironies of healthcare is that despite the fact it is an industry where the 'human' dimension is so important, the HR department is often one of the most-overlooked aspects of healthcare organizations. "There is arguably no other labor-intensive industry that is so reliant upon a highly skilled, highly educated, high-cost, and high-in-demand workforce that literally makes life-or-death decisions every day. And yet, in many hospitals and health systems HR remains an afterthought in the C-suite" (Commins 2013:1). However, the need for change is constant, and many organizations are finding they must 'adapt or die,' given the new realities they are facing. "by the federal healthcare law, the inevitable and growing shortages of skilled healthcare professionals, and the newfound and measurable importance of patient satisfaction scores for reimbursements will prompt a reassessment of HR in strategic planning" (Commins 2013:1). HR must be first and foremost in the minds of the strategic thinkers of today's organizations and HR professionals must act as advocates for the needs of their department.
In the past, HR has often taken what has been described as a 'reactive' role to any crises that might beset the industry, which is the very antithesis of the strategic approach demanded by current organizational circumstances. However, when HR is prioritized and "the different kinds of clinical and non-clinical staff responsible for public and individual health intervention are given equal priority to considerations such as finance and technology," then the "the knowledge, skills and motivation of those individuals responsible for delivering health services" may be optimized (Kabene et al. 2006). Without these factors, other aspects of healthcare are not useful to patients, as they must be in the hands of clinically competent staff: technology, marketing, and quality...
"The number of health workers available in a country is a key indicator of that country's capacity to provide delivery and interventions" (Kabene et al. 2006). HR can help design incentives to attract new nurses, to retain good nurses, and even work with educational institutions to mentor and encourage new entrants into the profession. HR must be able to recruit candidates with the needed skills and training to function and also continue to support their efforts with education to ensure that practitioners' skills remain current. "It is essential that human resources personnel consider the composition of the health workforce in terms of both skill categories and training levels. New options for the education and in-service training of health care workers are required to ensure that the workforce is aware of and prepared to meet a particular country's present and future needs . A properly trained and competent workforce is essential to any successful health care system" (Kabene et al. 2006).
However, it is equally true that "a practitioner without adequate tools is as inefficient as having the tools without the practitioner" (Kabene et al. 2006). Nurses and doctors must have access to high-quality medical technology to dispense care; healthcare administrators must have the means to keep accurate patient records. This means that HR must also provide input about how to balance the needs to financially compensate the staff while still ensuring that the organization has an adequate budget so that the existing staff can function at its optimal level with the 'right tools.' Additionally, new regulations such as the requirement for institutions to have electronic medical records and the increased cost of staff to deal with insurance-related issues places financial demands upon the organization. This is, in part, where the 'strategic' nature of HR must come into play, balancing the different needs of the organization, not simply focusing on specifically HR-related issues such as pay.
When healthcare organizations are faced with the need to make cutbacks, the need to balance financial demands with the needs of the organization is even more acute. In healthcare, "rigorous quality measures require constant performance improvement, while at the same time hospitals are expected to do…
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1. Best practices and compliance with recruitment laws The first step towards filling the request will be to review the various H.R. best practices and compliance to minimize an employee lawsuit's risk. The review will be done on issues such as hiring, wage requirements, and employee classification. To ensure this, the H.R. department will establish a strategy (assuming none exists at the moment) for regulatory reviewing and updating compliance procedures and