Got dozens (or even thousands) of health care employees to coordinate? An online environment can be a helpful tool.
Two-thirds of U.S. workers between ages 22-37 — the millennial generation — expect to decamp for a new job within the next five years. Among health care workers, three of 10 must be replaced every year, studies show.
For health care systems, high turnover is costly — not only in financial but also in clinical terms. It represents a critical loss of intellectual capital, and it saps employee morale.
With the onset of flu season, pressures on health care workers intensify. They worry about new requirements and policies, about getting sick themselves, and about missing paychecks versus bringing illness to work with them.
For health care leaders, reducing those stressors among key employees becomes an even more urgent priority, according to Will Eadie, global vice president of strategy for Workjam, a digital workforce management application vendor based in Montreal, Quebec.
Cloud-based digital workforce management (WFM) offers a mechanism for keeping employees engaged — inspired, motivated, aligned and enabled. Some 370 WFM software/apps are listed at Capterra, a software cataloging site. Many have limited or specialized uses, or are tailored to specific industries.
To illustrate how a robust WFM platform in health care can be “seamlessly assimilated into a workday and provide an experience to make employees more engaged, productive and loyal,” Eadie cites a Workjam white paper detailing a “Day in the Life” of a fictional registered nurse named Carolyn.
Fresh out of bed, Carolyn receives a notification on her mobile phone that construction in the hospital parking lot may cause delays in getting to work. At her previous organization, which she left in frustration after six months, she might have been late because no such mundane-but-important warnings were communicated.
Shortly afterward, her phone alerts her that she’ll be floated to a different unit this day — from telemetry to medical/surgical, a change that would have come as an annoying surprise at her old job after she arrived at the wrong floor.
Checking her phone for available shifts, she notes that one is open later in the week in cardiac rehabilitation for which she’s also qualified. The extra work is welcome. She signs up using the WFM app and receives confirmation moments later that she’s been approved. At her old job, such switches were hard to make and chaotic.
Among millennials in a Workjam survey, 35 percent cited scheduling frustrations as a reason for quitting, Eadie reports.
Noting on her phone that a colleague who lives nearby is working the same 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift, she arranges a ride-share via the app’s direct message function.
When Carolyn reports to med/surg, she finds she needs refresher training to bring her up to date on procedures. She accesses the hospital’s training module on her phone, watches a brief video and answers a quiz. Her results are automatically delivered to the unit manager. At her old job, such training meant visiting multiple websites or reading long handout materials.
A notification pops up explaining new protocols on the unit in response to an increase in C. difficile admissions. This contrasts with the game of “broken telephone” such vital updates involved at her former organization.
Carolyn receives a personal thank-you from her manager for her flexibility this morning. She’s reminded that she needs to complete her mandatory annual online fire safety training. She’s between patients so she takes the tutorial at once.
Carolyn gets an app notification that she’s been awarded a badge by her med/surg manager for a “good catch” based on what she’d learned about C. difficile precautions. She sees on her phone that with two more badges she’ll qualify for two weeks of premium hospital parking. She feels she’s gaining status in the organization.
“Back at her last nursing job,” the white paper observes, “neither she nor any of her colleagues were ever recognized for their work, despite clear evidence that a culture of recognition significantly improves employee morale.”
A chief nursing officer forum is being held this afternoon, the app reminds employees. Unable to attend because of her duties, Carolyn has the option to watch a recorded version after her shift and fill out a survey by which employees are invited to comment.
At her old workplace, she’d have had to rely on word-of-mouth about the forum’s content. What’s more, she’s “grateful that the organization’s leadership values her opinion. It makes her feel like she’s having an effect on her organization’s nursing practice — not just one unit’s.”
She gets a text from her son’s daycare center announcing an unexpected closure tomorrow. Carolyn will have to stay home. Using the shift management dashboard on her phone she requests a trade, and 10 minutes later gets a response from a relief nurse. But she needs her full paycheck and searches for additional open shifts. She finds one that’s ideal — and is relieved that her employer makes it “easy to balance her work and personal obligations.”
“Carolyn would leave her old job feeling exhausted, burnt out and dreading her next shift,” the white paper proposes. “By contrast, she arrives home today energized and empowered.”
There’s also a companywide message on her phone announcing the organization’s new partnership with the local public schools. Rather than learn about it secondhand or in the news, she sees it directly from the CEO —who regularly addresses the hospital system’s “committed health professionals” using the app, and credits them for making the program possible.
In an industry overwhelmed with turnover,” the white paper concludes, “Carolyn is one RN who will be sticking around.”
Her loyalty isn’t a mystery, Eadie says. It’s the direct result of a concerted effort on the part of her organization’s leaders to keep associates driven and informed. A digital WFM platform woven into their workday assures they receive timely on-the-job knowledge aligned with overall business goals.
And it saves the estimated $88,000 it would cost to replace an engaged RN like Carolyn.
David Ollier Weber is a freelance journalist based in California. This article is part of a series of stories AAPL is posting to market U.S. National Health IT Week.