Creative ways to engage your workforce while addressing the bottom line

Health care companies have faced significant disruption during the past two years, and those changes have created challenges within their labor forces that have made it difficult to reach organizational goals. However, according to Larry Kleinman, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Highmark Health, parent company of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, within every challenge is opportunity.

“The current work environment is in a state of change,” says Kleinman. “Companies that find creative ways to engage their workforce and reduce positional tedium by automating laborious manual processes are successfully reimagining roles and lifting up the culture, driving improvements to the bottom line.”

Smart Business spoke with Kleinman about how to improve the workflow and increase employee engagement through data management and automation.

How can companies improve employee engagement?

Start small. Look for changes that could improve operations by eliminating burdensome processes. One way to do that is through automation, which can free up employees to focus on other tasks.

Enhancements through automation lead to better processes that improve employee morale as people are freed up to pursue more interesting aspects of their position and can lift the bottom line. It’s estimated that as much as 55 percent of a nurse’s time is spent on administrative tasks.

By introducing automation to their more tedious tasks, an organization could create a position that’s more desirable within the industry, which can be an important recruitment tool. By establishing and then reviewing data metrics for each position, leadership can get a better sense of where time is being spent and how to reimagine the position’s responsibilities to ensure they’re free to apply their energy to the most important problems.

Dashboards that highlight these analytics are an excellent source of information, offering employees, managers and department heads an at-a-glance update on the status of individuals within the department, finances, projects and more. Dashboards can be customized to monitor whatever metrics that are important.

How can health care companies re-engage frontline workers post-COVID?

Every challenge an organization faces offers within it an opportunity to improve. For instance, where companies are facing issues with employee engagement, organizations should try to identify the issues that are creating barriers to success. Look closely at key positions and consider rethinking their core role within departmental processes or the context of the company’s bigger-picture goals.

Facilitating engagement with front-line workers to identify their issues is also important. That can lead to changes such as offering scheduling flexibility to those workers who are unable to work from anywhere, as well as adjustments to compensation and making sure the right staff is deployed to the right place.

The more that can be done to engage the workforce with perks and flexibility while also offering tools to make their workdays easier, the more excited and high-energy the work environment will be. That will help people better handle the challenges that day-to-day life on the frontlines bring.

How can leadership transitions be an opportunity?

Managing growth is another area of focus for organizations. If a company wants or expects to grow 6 percent annually, its leadership has to grow 10 to12 percent. That means organizations need to improve their leadership teams, not just by external hiring initiatives but through internal recruiting groups. Companies should know their players, identify those who have leadership potential and set them up for potential advancement.

If there isn’t one already in place, organizations should have an action plan for continuous improvements as well as plans to improve employee engagement. Every company is grappling with an evolving work environment. Those that take action and find ways to improve everyday life on the job, automate tedious processes, measure key metrics and have a leadership development program to keep their talent pipeline full will have a strong competitive advantage. ●

INSIGHTS Health Care is brought to you by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

Larry Kleinman

EVP, chief human resources officer
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Learn more about career opportunities at Highmark Health.