Recently, human resources (HR) policy has become considerably important, going from the category of essential issues into the category of the key aspects of successful organizations. The value and cost of personnel is mostly often evident when selling the organization, because its sale price may be much higher than the total value of physical and financial assets (Mathis & Jackson, 2010). Thus, human resources should be a major investment of the up-to-date firms and organizations. However, insofar, many organizations have faced a problem of talent shortage. According to the statistics (First Consulting Group, 2001), in the health care, vacancy rates for nurses, pharmacists, and imaging technicians are over 10 %. The problem is getting worse, because the decreasing number of graduates from health education faculties, such as nursing and pharmacy, is unable to supply the increasing demand in health care professionals. Practically, shortage of hospital workforce leads to the hospital overcrowding, as well as to the delays in medical service and care delivery. Therefore, HR staff of the health care organizations must ensure that human talent is used effectively and efficiently in order to accomplish the organizational goals. This paper analyzes the ways health care organizations should implement an HR function in order to increase effectiveness and contribution of employees, while meeting the future challenges.
In the foreseeable future, the need for skilled employees able to achieve various goals of the health care organizations will increase. Hereby, while solving the problem of the current and future workforce shortages, a rural hospital may rely on overtime or apply to travelling or agency nurses (First Consulting Group, 2001). However, in order to resolve the issue in the long-run, the hospital should choose developing creative strategies to attract and recruit new professionals. Thus, for the health care organizations, the movement from transactional level to the strategic one is necessary (Sharma, 2009).
For developing an effective HR strategy that could pursue the general organizational strategy, a skilled HR leader is needed. When coming to the organization, the HR leader should first determine a development stage of an organization, and find out the company’s strategy and understand its main goals in order to build and introduce a new strategy. In order to perform a more strategic role in developing the organizational capabilities, the HR professional must have a number of different competencies, among which are: classical (labor relations, legal issues affecting HR), traditional (planning, recruitment, selection, training, benefits, compensation, job analysis, motivation), and new (employee involvement, ethics, teambuilding, managing change) competencies (Vincent, 2004).
Personnel planning, recruitment, and selection are impossible without job analysis. HR manager can conduct task-based job analysis or competency-based job analysis. I would prefer the competency-based job analysis, because it is more broadly focused on knowledge, skills, and personal characteristics of employees, which is crucial in health care service (Mathis & Jackson, 2010). Before recruiting people, it is worth writing job descriptions and job specifications, based on the job analysis, which give employers a clear picture of the human assets that are needed by the organization. HR staff should recruit and select people observantly matching the qualities, which the organization is searching for, against the candidate’s CV. Hereby, the organization has to give equal opportunities to all the individuals, including members of a protected category, due to the equal employment opportunities laws and regulations (Mathis & Jackson, 2010).
Since students do not want to become health professionals because of more attractive options at the labor market, HR managers need to promote favorable work conditions in the health care organizations in order to attract and retain the young professionals. Hereby, organizations have to ensure satisfactory working environment and workers’ compensation according to the Fair Labor Standards Act and other federal and state compensation laws (Mathis & Jackson, 2010). Besides, the needs, wants, and expectations of the potential employees should be analyzed in order to plan an effective compensation, beneficial, and recognition system. In particular, sign-on bonuses may be an effective method to attract skilled graduates to work at hospitals (First Consulting Group, 2001).
Acquiring employees is just a first step of employee “onboarding” that includes such processes as accommodation, assimilation, and acceleration of the new employees (Sharma, 2009). Hereby, the “onboarding” period may be quite long and complex. First, HR staff should make certain welcoming steps, so that employees could integrate into an organization, as well as feel wanted, valued, and motivated. Then, the company should provide every employee with basic information needed for work. At last, HR staff has to assign a mentor, an experienced employee, to a new hire, which could lead the newcomer, help him/her, and encourage his/her smooth integration. If done successfully, “onboarding” improves employees’ productivity and retains them at the organization.
In order to retain talents in the long-run, HR professionals should find new progressive ways of motivating employees (Vincent, 2004). Hereby, according to the survey (Sharma, 2009), the primary expectations of students are independence, variety, challenge, and advancement, which precede status and prestige. HR professionals must consider it, while choosing optimal payrolls and benefits to attract and retain employees. Hereby, the aim of HR payroll is to reach a reasonable balance between material and immaterial compensation. Health care organizations have to use the following standard employee benefits: paid sick and vocation days, retirement benefits, health insurance, together with perks, which are extra motivating benefits, such as paid prescriptions, free lunches, conference attendance, flexible schedules that can help employees, especially single parents, to balance their work and personal lives. Status and professional recognition provided by the organizations are also of crucial importance.
Besides, on-site education and training are important factors for retaining skilled workers in the long-term (Sharma, 2009). Nowadays, training is considered as a universal method for human resource development, its productivity enhancement, as well as resolving the main issues of an organization. Thus, according to Mathis & Jackson (2010), through continuous training, a leadership company can fight against firing and layoffs. However, Rosner (1999) disagrees with viewing the training as an all-purpose development method, while arguing that training is not “the answer to a problem when it’s used to cover up the symptoms” (p. 46). In this light, we may say that when HR managers decide to conduct the training in the organization without realizing its real problems, they behave like doctors, who prescribe medications to their clients without exposing a proper diagnosis. Clearly, like the symptoms and the history of disease must be learnt before prescribing the medication to the patient, the background and peculiarities of the problem in the organization must be properly investigated before putting the training program together.
Despite a specific training is not always a reasonable decision for a certain situation, personal development and individual learning will always have positive effects and bring fruitful results for the whole organization. Hereby, for the health care organizations, job shadowing may be an effective form of the on-the job training (Vincent, 2004). It allows a newcomer or an employee, who wants to gain a comprehensive knowledge in a certain area, follow an experienced employee and take notice of his/her work. Job shadowing would be effective for the interns as well, because it allows trying different jobs within a company. Therefore, I highly agree with Rosner (1999) arguing that the main goal of an organization is to create “a culture of ongoing learning” (p. 52). In this way, the organization can reach the latest stage in the tradition of educating and training the personnel that is called human resource development (HRD) (Sharma, 2009).
Speaking about employees’ development, it must be noted that Internet and new technologies will immensely influence training and learning programs providing web-portals, as well as audio and video conferences for acquiring and sharing knowledge (Sharma, 2009). So, in order to reduce costs and time spent on training programs, new technologies of distant learning can be introduced. Besides, the use of technology will allow HR managers to get free from a lot of administrative tasks. Practically, through specific portals, executives will be able to access and get managerial information currently prepared by the HR department. Since employees are more “self-managed”, the HR managers will be able to focus on creating strategies and coordinating employees’ activities.
In the leadership organizations, self-organization of creative processes is widely used, whereas the top manager specifies only the direction and explains a result the organization wants to get, while encouraging staff`s initiative and creating enabling environment for the team (Bower, 1997). In fact, the loyalty formation is not so much a consequence of programs, as a result of deliberate policy of the organization that mirrors its behavior and attitude to employees. Hereby, it must be noted that the organizational structure based on the three P’s: people, purpose, and process, has many advantages for both employers and employees in contrast to command-and-control management method with a classic vertical structure based on the three S’s: structure, system, and strategy (Bower, 1997). Marvin Bower (1997) explains the command managing as a main reason “why people don`t like their work” and, consequently, why students do not want to apply for such a job (p.106).
Evidently, in the long-run, the health care organizations, in particular hospitals, should work more closely with the education institutions, such as colleges and universities, in order to regulate the curricula received by future health professionals to match with the skills needed for the hospital work (First Consulting Group, 2001). Because changes within HR sphere and within the general business environment cause changes in the practice of HR, appropriate adjustments should be continuously made in the curricula of HR professionals. For the future HR leadership position, students can additionally prepare by gathering and analyzing a wide range of business information. It will give them understanding of business processes and knowledge on the ways human resources can influence them on the different levels.
Thus, it is true that effective management of human resources is a crucial function in the health care organizations. In order to ensure that human talent is used effectively and efficiently, health care organizations should transform themselves at the operational level to being focused on goals and future vision. Hereby, the success of HR function depends on the skills and capabilities of HR professionals, which are considered as an irreplaceable asset of an organization and a reliable strategic business partner due to their potential ability to use the latest management approaches, technologic solutions, and interpersonal skills in order to optimize the resources. Human resources consolidate all the companies’ assets and guide their use to achieving the organizational goals. All the functions that HR professionals perform are interrelated and, therefore, equally important. Since today, in order to remain competitive in the ever changing business environment, employees have to continuously gain the new knowledge, the strategic HRD must be incorporated into the corporate culture and into the business strategy of organizations. Hereby, HR managers should motivate learning as a constant process that occurs first of all in the minds of employees, because it contributes to the organizational success in the long-run.