Strategic Human Resource Management in Healthcare

Abstract

The healthcare system is by no doubt one of the global systems that highly depend on human resources for the provision of its services. This paper will address the application and importance of strategic human resource management in healthcare. In this, the paper will begin by first exploring the challenges faced by healthcare systems in terms of human resource management. Suggested ways of overcoming the human resources problems will be discussed. Among the many ways of overcoming these problems is through strategic planning of the human resources management (Kabene et al, 2006). Strategic human resource management in healthcare systems is what the entire globe needs for its healthcare facilities to ensure the quality provision of healthcare services. This is because, unlike other service industries that can rely on machinery for their operations, healthcare services are highly dependent on human resources. The information for this research will be retrieved from published literature as well as from data that has been collected through secondary sources.

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Introduction

The healthcare industry has been facing numerous problems in terms of the provision of quality services to the public. The source of these problems is diversified with some of them coming from the healthcare facility itself as well as external factors such as the government. Among the many hindrances to the provision of quality healthcare is that of human resource management. The human resource management department of any healthcare facility is of great significance to the operations of the facility. This is because healthcare facilities are one of the organizations that are endowed with a large number of human resources. Most of the activities and procedures in healthcare are conducted by human beings more than they are performed by machines (Kabene et al, 2006). As such, the human resource of a healthcare facility must be well managed if at all the facility wants to provide quality services to the public as well as succeed in its operations. One of the ways of making sure the human resource is up to date is by implementing strategic plans in its management (Price, 2007). This paper will therefore be an exploration of the strategic human resource management in healthcare by reviewing the planning process, its benefits, and points to be considered in strategic planning of the human resource in healthcare.

Human resource management challenges in healthcare

The healthcare service industry has been facing many challenges that have a significant impact on the quality of services that they provide to the public. One of the greatest challenges regards the inadequacy of skilled workers to perform healthcare operations (Audette, 2010, p.3). Most of the healthcare services have been lacking the required personnel to provide some of the services in the facility, hence, making them fail to provide them. The reason behind this is that most of the services provided in healthcare facilities require individuals who have fully specialized in them for quality output. Therefore, in the case that there is a deficiency in specific personnel in a healthcare facility, it leads to instances of referrals to other facilities that provide those services. Another of the human resource challenges in healthcare is that of lower compensation for the workers. This should not be the case as the healthcare service industry is one of the most important services in any society because they work to save the lives of people in society. The challenge of failure to provide financial and non-financial incentives also faces the healthcare industry. Other challenges evident in the healthcare industry include increased workloads, insufficient resources to be used in recruiting, compensating, and developing good human resources (Audette, 2010, p. 3).

Strategic Human Resource Management in healthcare

Strategic human resource management is of great significance to the healthcare industry when it comes to the delivery of quality services to the community. “Research done has indicated that about 65 to 80 percent of the total operating budget in a typical healthcare organization is apportioned to the salary and wages of the healthcare workers” (Savage et al, 2010). The fact that the human resource consumes a larger portion of the total budget is a clear indication that it is of great significance. In addition to this, the quality of services delivered by the health care facility is largely bestowed on the hands of human resources. Despite all these, “the human resource function remains one of the most neglected in health care organizations and ‘warm body syndrome’ seems to characterize the role of HRM in health care organizations” (Savage et al, 2010).

Having all these in mind, the aim of strategic human resource management in the health care service industry is to manage the human resource in a better way that would make them provide quality services to the patients. Strategic human resource management aims at first satisfying the employees through increased financial advantages as well as ensuring that their wellbeing and health are increased. Another aim of strategic human resource management is to ensure that the rates of employee absenteeism and turnover are reduced. If all the aforementioned objectives of strategic human resource management are achieved, the service delivery by the health care workers will be of high quality.

The Planning Process

The implementation of strategic human resource management is a stepwise process that requires time and skills. This is because it touches on a sensitive part of the healthcare organization. The first step of the planning process is to determine the strength of the personnel at hand. In this, the human resource officers make an analysis of all the staff in the healthcare facility and group them according to their areas of specialization. With this, any loopholes in the staff can be easily identified. The human resource officers also ensure that the more skilled workers with much experience especially those that have served in the health care facility for a long period are retained.

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Secondly, the human resource department should forecast the needs of the employees. In this, they predict the future demands of staff at the healthcare facility while balancing with the available staff. The number of staff that will be required in the event of employee turnover should also be determined. This is so because, unlike other service industries, the healthcare industry is significantly affected by even the slightest instances of employee turnover. The main reason for this is the sensitivity of the services provided by healthcare personnel.

Another issue that the human resource department ought to look into during strategic planning of the human resource of a healthcare facility concerns employee turnover. Employee turnover in the case of a healthcare facility is a big threat, which if not curbed early enough could even lead to the closure of the facility. Turnover leads to the incurrence of both direct and indirect costs by the healthcare facility. Therefore, the human resource department of the healthcare facility should conduct exit interviews as one of the tools of strategic human resource management. The exit interviews will help the administration of the healthcare facility to know the possible reasons that could be leading to employee turnover. Once known, the administration can use the reasons given by the leaving employees to improve the management of the still existing employees to prevent them from leaving.

Benefits of Strategic Human Resource Management in healthcare

To feel the benefits of strategic human resource management, the healthcare industry should seek ways of overcoming the challenges facing human resource management in the healthcare industry discussed earlier in the paper. For instance, healthcare employees should be accorded both financial and non-financial incentives such as duties as a way of motivating them. Compensation to workers should be increased among other motivating factors to make the employees comfortable. The essence of strategic human resource management in healthcare is to make the healthcare employees comfortable and motivated to work so that they can provide quality services to the patients and society as a whole.

As such, several benefits come in hand with the implementation of strategic human resource management in healthcare. For one, the employees will feel safe on the job, therefore, making them work to their best (Audette, 2010, p.6). All employees always yearn to have job security, something that motivates them to work well on their allocated duties. The implementation of strategic human resource management means good communication and relationship between the employees and employers (Audette, 2010, p.6). If this is the case, it is clear that instances of strikes and go-slows by the employees will not be experienced anymore. Therefore, the activities of the healthcare facilities will be smooth running, as they will not be affected at any time. This is a positive impact on the management since the performance of the healthcare facility will be significantly improved.

Lastly, strategic human resource management provides a healthy working environment for the employees so that they can fully engage in their work to provide quality services. The employees also have a lot of trust in their employers because of the improved work-life in the healthcare facility (Audette, 2010, p.7).

Challenges to Strategic Human Resource Management in healthcare

When implementing strategic human resource management in healthcare, the human resource officials are bound to face challenges just as it happens in other changes in any organization. First, there is the problem of linking the human resource strategies to the healthcare facility strategies as a business. The two should be well linked to avoiding instances of conflict, which could in turn affect the operations and performance of the healthcare facility (Bandt and Haines, 2007, p.1). The second problem is that of ensuring that the change is well facilitated and accepted by all people of the healthcare facility. Organizational changes are bound to be well perceived or rejected by the people in the organization. If a change like the implementation of strategic human resource management faces opposition from the other personnel, it means that it will not be fully implemented hence regarded as failed (Bandt and Haines, 2007, p.1). The other challenge that could come about during the implementation of strategic human resource management is when the employees and other personnel lack an understanding of the diversified environment in which they are working after the modifications made by the human resource professionals. Finally yet importantly entails the challenge of cost. The cost of implementing strategic human resource management in an organization is high in terms of finances and time. The process consumes a lot of time, as it has to be done in a stepwise order for effective implementation. Since it calls for changes, the process will involve high financial expenses being incurred.

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Conclusion

Having seen that healthcare is a service provided by people to other people it is evident that the management of human resources in the healthcare service industry is important. The issues of human resources management are bound to be handled with integrity for the success of the healthcare industry (Price, 2007). Research has, however, indicated that even though the human resources ought to be handled with care, they are still the most neglected yet consume the larger part of the total operating budget of the healthcare facility. As mentioned earlier, the problems facing human resources in healthcare can be well curbed by strategic planning of the human resource. By strategically planning the human resources of the healthcare industry, the employees will have a healthy environment to work in. As such, they will have a good relationship with their employers, something that will lead to the production of quality services by the healthcare facility. As it was earlier discussed, there are several ways of strategic planning of the human resources of a healthcare facility. Some of these methods include giving financial and non-financial incentives, reducing incidences of absenteeism and employee turnover as well as increasing employee job satisfaction. If all the aforementioned factors are attained, the service delivery at the healthcare facility will be of high quality and efficient.

Reference List

Audette, S. (2010). Strategic Human Resource Management in Healthcare: A solution to the current challenges. Accreditation Canada. Web.

Bandt, A., and Haines, S. (2007). Successful Strategic Human Resources Planning. Systems Thinking Press. Web.

Kabene, S. et al. (2006). The importance of human resources management in health care: a global context. Human Resources for health, 4: 20. Web.

Price, A. (2007). Human Resource Management: in business context. London, Cengage Learning

Savage, G., Fottler, M., and Khatri, N. (2010). Strategic Human Resource Management in Health Care. England, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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