The Cost of Resisting Change is Going Up

Stressed NurseEvidence that change is getting our attention was visible in a surprising way, at this years Magnet conference in Houston, with the increased number of vendors offing age defying products. Nurses were lined up to try out new, and by the way expensive, ways to eliminate wrinkles and remove those dark circles under the eyes that come from years of lots of hard work and not enough sleep.

No judgment here, how we look and feel about ourselves is important. But it does raise a question.  Are we paying enough attention to the changes underway in our healthcare workforce as well? Are we actively engaged, understanding and making adjustments in response to our changing workforce? When you consider the role caregivers play in care delivery, quality, safety, costs and effectiveness of patient care, we should be very attentive to the future of our workforce.

Admittedly one can get blurry eyed with yet another reference to millennials but lets look at some facts, because they can underscore the need for our attention. “Government studies at Brookings report that by 2020 millennials will make up 75% of the workforce.1 A recent Gallup pole reported that 55% of millennials are not engaged at work and 16% are actively disengaged. A Lightspeed report identified 51% of Millennials are planning to leave their company in the next two years. Gallup reports that millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.2  With turnover rates in long term care already reaching up to 70% and the shortage of qualified nurses we are expecting, considering the “millennial effect” that is now part of our reality, is no longer a choice.

The authors of the Brookings report made the following observation: “The distinctive and widely shared attitudes and beliefs of this generation will slowly, but surely, reshape corporations in its image and end the confrontational and bottom-line oriented world that Boomers and Gen-Xers have created”.What this means to healthcare should be top of mind and while that’s hard when we are bombarded with the daily demands that come with care delivery today, our future depends on it.

So the potentially very costly question is, what are we doing not just respond to, but get ahead of these changes? How can we create situations that engage our workforce and that respond to their priorities? What changes need to happen when the majority of our workforce demands flexibility and work life balance? What adjustments do we need to make with a workforce who will leave if there are no clear paths for development opportunities, who make learning new things a priority, who want to know that where they work is making a positive difference?

We, at ShiftHound, build software that will help you in multiple ways to address the interests of millennials, but that is not enough. The best tools in the world can’t help you if you are not willing to look at and change the practices, polices and management attitudes that are out of step with the workforce you count on.

In our next post we will share some examples to help ground this situation into practical terms and offer some suggestions for simple changes that can help build and maintain an engaged and committed workforce, no matter what generation they are from.

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About ABILITY® Network, Inc.
ABILITY Network is a leading information technology company helping providers and payers simplify the administrative and clinical complexities of healthcare through innovative applications and data analytics. ABILITY is headquartered in Minneapolis with principal offices in Boston and Tampa.

ShiftHound, which was acquired by ABILITY Network in April 2017, is the leader in cloud-based Workforce Management solutions, including Attendance, Credentials Tracking, Staff Scheduling and Open Shift Management. Organizations in any business vertical with shift-based staffing needs use ShiftHound to improve scheduling effectiveness and operational efficiency while maximizing workforce utilization, assuring compliance with policies and/or labor contracts, addressing open shifts and better managing labor costs such as overtime and contract labor utilization.

About Kathy Douglas
Kathy is a healthcare executive and filmmaker. She has been on the executive team of several start-up companies bring cutting edge technology solutions to the healthcare industry for over 20 years. She has published extensively on the topic of healthcare staffing and the healthcare workforce. She holds a masters degree from the University of San Francisco and is a graduate of Stanford Business School’s Executive Program.