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How Can Human Resources Support Organizational Change in Hospitals Due to the Affordable Care Act?

How Can Human Resources Support Organizational Change in Hospitals Due to the Affordable Care Act?

April 18, 2014
Submitted By Sanjay Sathe

The Affordable Care Act brings about a wealth of opportunity for hospitals to provide services to a greater population—as well as a wealth of opportunity to employ more health care practitioners and professionals to attend to that population’s needs. However, those same opportunities may fundamentally change the way our nation’s hospitals can staff and pay health care practitioners and professionals. And this change may actually lead to a need to reduce workforce in certain areas, redeploy professionals in similar roles in other departments, and even let many otherwise valuable employees go for financial and strategic business reasons.As pay structures and reimbursement rates change, and hospitals adapt to increased patient loads or demands on resources, hospital management may feel the pressure to become more economically savvy. Should these changes bring about a workforce restructuring, it will become imperative for hospitals’ management—and their Human Resources departments—to prepare for a workforce transition through proactive outplacement services, notification training for managers, and redeployment strategies.The key word here is “proactive.” Just as companies across industries have had to proactively leverage their Human Resources leaders to enforce compliance with the ACA among employees before deadlines, so will HR be instrumental in preparing to support both impacted employees and the hospital or medical practice’s needs in the case of a restructuring down the line.This proactivity is absolutely imperative because hospitals and health care facilities are not just businesses, but also businesses that provide crucial, life-or-death services. A delay in restructuring or redeployment can greatly affect a hospital’s ability to ensure that the right medical professionals are in place to do the greatest amount of good.Therefore, Human Resources will play a huge support role in hospitals in the coming months and years. Here are a few ways that HR can help the executive team reach and maintain business goals while also supporting and empowering potentially impacted workers.Prepare to support workers leaving the organization: a layoff is a layoff, no matter what the industry. But as many hospitals are affected by the ACA at the same time, impacted workers may feel overwhelmed by the task of finding a new position in a crowded market. Human Resources can support workers in their career transitions by working with an outplacement services provider that readies former employees to locate and land quality positions, from personalized job leads to job coaching and resume writing.Train managers and keep communication open: In health care, communication is key—but it is easy for workers to remain out of the loop on decisions that are being made at the management and executive levels. HR can work with hospital administration to make sure that business decisions and shifts in the workforce are communicated early and often. Managers should be trained so that they feel prepared to handle notification conversations, and employees should be given the opportunity to ask for and understand the reasons behind major changes. At all levels, employees should feel empowered to ask questions, offer feedback, and be treated as valued members of the organization, not just a cog in a larger wheel.Facilitate Internal Mobility: One of the reasons that outplacement can be such a touchy subject is that it involves letting go of an employee who would continue to be a valuable asset to the company were it not for the shift in the financial or structural needs of the business. This can be especially true in a hospital setting, where trained, talented medical staff can mean the difference between life and death. Hospitals can hold onto their best talent (while saving in recruiting and severance costs) by working with HR to facilitate redeployment. HR can proactively begin working with managers to identify talent who can be of use in other areas of the organization and work with an outplacement services provider to encourage that talent to reapply for positions in other areas of the hospital that may still have open requisitions.While the Affordable Care Act may make an impact on the structure and staffing of hospitals and health care facilities over the next few years, that impact can be mitigated by thinking ahead and leveraging Human Resources’ position as the bridge between the management team and employees—and preparing to support both through any change that may lie ahead.

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