While disruption and uncertainty have defined healthcare for many years, the COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the healthcare industry into unprecedented levels of chaos. Necessity breeds innovation. This crucial industry is ripe for an HR transformation that delivers outstanding employee experiences that are both people-focused and digitally enabled. According to Mercer’s recent 2020 Global Talent Trends Study, thriving employees are twice as likely to work for an organization that tempers their economic decisions with empathy. A climate of pandemic-driven disruption and economic recession demands that healthcare organizations urgently reinvent to ensure HR decisions include both fiscal and compassionate considerations – a balance that only 37% of workers in the industry say their employers are currently doing well.


The most effective way to achieve this transformation is to create a Target Interaction Model (TIM), unique to your healthcare organization, that places employees front and center. Thriving employees will deliver their best care to patients. It’s time to be an HR hero.


Navigating the healthcare landscape

The environment surrounding healthcare stakeholders – physicians, employees, patients, volunteers, vendors, and board members – is complicated and constantly changing. 

Trends that are having a significant impact on healthcare:


  • Fundamental shifts in how business is conducted

New care models are rapidly evolving and these disruptors are changing the traditional model. This includes embracing/enhancing digital care models, re-imagining the care continuum across virtual and physical models, and from triage, diagnosis, monitoring and engagement. For example, big retailers like Walmart  (CVS, Amazon and Best Buy, to name a few) are entering the sector to grab a share of the $3.6 trillion in health spending. Others, such as telemedicine companies like Teledoc are leveraging technology to create new service models. These foundational shifts in the healthcare landscape all require new employee skill sets, changing how HR attracts and retains employees.


  •  Rapid Changes in technology 

Organizations have responded by implementing programs that are more patient-centered, can sustainably reduce costs, and can better integrate HR systems and streamline processes (such as onboarding and certifications). To maximize these investments, healthcare organizations will need to drive adoption of digital HR processes and workflow.

  • Diverse workforce challenges

Healthcare workers are in short supply, particularly in rural and remote locations. Employees who work in high-stress and high-risk environments with insufficient resources face mounting behavioral health challenges and are experiencing change fatigue. At the same time, companies must manage an extremely diverse multigenerational workforce with varying interests and needs. HR can no longer be a one-size-fits-all operation.

  • Financial pressures … on steroids

For years, healthcare has been under significant pressure to reduce costs, operating on razor-thin profit margins. The pandemic is compounding the pressure, as elective procedures — which have historically kept many healthcare systems afloat — are now being postponed or canceled to help flatten the curve. This new financial pressure will have a lasting effect on healthcare even after the pandemic. HR will need to continue to cut costs.

Even one of these factors would turn any other industry upside down. The transformation companies were planning is already happening. Moreover, the current crisis shows that our ability to make significant changes and advances in business operations is not just possible but essential.

Focus on the employee experience to attract and retain talent

The employee experience is the intersection of employees’ expectations, their environment and the events that shape their journey within your organization. Research indicates that organizations leading in employee experience are four times as profitable with twice the average revenue of companies that lag. Mercer’s 2020 Global Talent Trends Study identified delivering on the employee experience as a top priority for HR in 2020 with 53% of organizations redesigning their structures to become more people-centric. Yet only 1% of HR teams believe they currently deliver an exemplary employee experience.  


Reinvention is vital for resetting management culture and shifting toward creating empathetic experiences for employees just like we do for patients. This requires prioritizing employee engagement from the day they join to the day they retire. Energized employees  who feel their workplaces are healthy, flexible, and inclusive are four times more likely to report wanting to stay with an organization, having greater resilience and being ready to reskill. Such employees are essential to transforming your healthcare organization. Putting them at the center of HR experiences, will create more positive patient interactions, which in turn, will drive up patient satisfaction rates.


Unlock the employee experience with a target interaction model

Transforming HR means changing the way it's organized. And for healthcare organizations, that means optimizing HR processes, moving away from siloed systems, and investing in people. If the need for change seemed urgent before, it is even more critical now. It’s time to reinvent.


The hardest part of any transformation is knowing how and where to begin. We can help you navigate these steps and execute a plan that puts your employees at the center. Start by creating a customized Target Interaction Model (TIM) to focus on how employees consume HR services. Support this with radically simplified technology to create greater efficiency, keep costs in line, and free up HR professionals for the moments that matter.


Four steps to get started


1.  Conduct a rapid, honest appraisal of the HR function.  Combine interviews, questionnaires, workshops and quantitative data to create a holistic view of the current HR service portfolio including its maturity, governance, level of automation, business impact and employee experience.


2Establish a baseline employee experience. Shifting to an interaction model starts with considering the employee experience for different persona groups and examining HR service delivery through their eyes, which can increase chance of employee satisfaction throughout the interaction. This step is particularly important in healthcare where the diversity across employee personas is significant.


3. Identify the TIM that will deliver the service portfolio. Assess which interactions should be personal and high-touch, which interactions should be radically simplified and digitized, and what communication channels will be most effective. Processes such as Career Frameworks can help create compelling career paths for your employees to foster talent development, enhance retention, and cultivate improved performance. 


4. Deliver the HR service portfolio holistically across the organization with TIM. Successful transformations coordinate the design of four key dimensions — processes, systems, content and organization — to  avoid creating systemic issues elsewhere.


The most effective way to measure the success of your TIM is to look from the outside in and assess utilization and employee satisfaction. An effective transformation calls for a fundamental shift in mindset – led by - HR, supported by the C-suite and embraced by the organization – from physicians to environmental staff. This shift will succeed when the primary goal of HR decisions and functions is a positive employee experience, which will ultimately improve the quality of patient care.


Once you've clarified how you want to interact with your workforce, you can determine how to organize HR to deliver these interactions – the Target Operating Model (TOM). In the current climate, a healthcare organization’s ability to focus on both the financial, mental and physical health of its employees has never been more vital. It’s time to change focus, simplify and reinvent. Employees will be making future career decisions based on how the system supported them during these uncertain times. Can you afford not to rise to the challenge?

John Land
John Land

Principal, HR Transformation

John Derse
John Derse

Partner, Healthcare Industry Vertical Leader

Phil McClurg
Phil McClurg

Principal, HR Transformation

Partner, Talent and HR Transformation

Speak with a consultant to discuss how we may be able to help you to address your challenges during these uncertain times.