How to nurture talent and address burnout: A conversation with Lurie's Children's Hospital and KPMG

Amid provider shortages and a fierce competition for talent, employee attraction and retention has become a top priority for healthcare leaders. 

During an August Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by Workday, a human capital management software vendor, three healthcare leaders with deep knowledge of healthcare's talent management challenges discussed how authentic employee engagement can nurture and optimize talent without leading to burnout. Panelists were:

  • Sarah Hickman Auger, industry director, healthcare solution marketing, Workday (Moderator)
  • Mary Alida Brisk, chief talent and learning officer, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital (Chicago)
  • Viktor Reznicek, principal, KPMG

Three key takeaways were:

    1. The talent shortage is at the root of healthcare's multiple crises. While the clinician shortage was a problem before COVID-19, it has gotten worse since the pandemic. "The talent shortage is a serious challenge for all of us in healthcare and something for which we need to build strategies to address tactically, and also strategically," Mr. Reznicek said.

      Other challenges include declining reimbursement, increasing labor costs, rising inflation, intense competition for talent, slow hiring processes and misalignments between physician and patient schedules that lead to excessive appointment cancellations and revenue loss. To grow revenue faster than expenses, there is an acute need for organizations to do more with less. 

    2. Technology is essential to doing more with less. While technology is not a silver bullet, a solution that helps organizations standardize and streamline processes from front to back and automate low-value "busywork" — especially in the HR function — can go a long way toward creating a lean organizational structure. 

      Three big wins Lurie Children's Hospital achieved thanks to Workday were: 

      • Expanding adoption of employee self-service when searching for information; previously requests were handled by emailing HR.
      • Reducing payroll errors by moving to a single system and automating reconciliation; previously errors led to overpayments and may have exposed the organization to wage and hour law violations.
      • Speeding up expense reimbursement through better tracking.

      "Workday helped us see some of our data points where we needed to go after foundational elements and make sure that we'd shored those up first and foremost," Ms. Brisk said. She added that through automating requisition and cutting approval steps, Lurie Children's was able to reduce the time to recruit clinicians by 27 days. "We really wanted to make sure we don't lose talent because our internal processes are too slow."

      Mr. Reznicek underscored the need for speed when recruiting and onboarding staff: "We hear regularly that a nurse accepts an offer, there's not an onboarding session for 30 days, they receive another offer in the interim and they renege and join another organization. So, speed is key." He noted though that organizations must look beyond technology and think creatively, citing a KPMG client that struck up partnerships with local community colleges to produce more nurses.

    3. When implementing technology partnerships, begin with the end in mind. When considering a technology partnership to streamline or automate legacy processes, it is important that organization define their goals up front and establish key performance indicators to measure progress. For example, as KPMG worked with Lurie's Children to operationalize the Workday partnership, it established 10 key performance indicators (KPIs) for HR outcomes, three for finance outcomes and three for supply chain outcomes — and built the overall business plan around those KPIs. 

      "Measuring KPIs is a tactical thing, but we don´t need to each figure out the answers to these hard problems on our own," Mr. Reznicek said. "I encourage folks to collaborate with healthcare organizations that have had some success, so we collectively enable healthcare providers to improve the health of this country and take better care of our clinical and healthcare workers."

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