Talent management: The burning platform

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Why would a smart and talented person want to work in your organization? All leaders regardless of the sector need to ask themselves this question if they wish to win the “war for talent.”

The research clearly tells us we should care about this because top performers significantly outperform their colleagues by anywhere from 29-82 per cent depending on sector and industry. As well, successful organizations know that the recipe for client or patient satisfaction rests with an engaged and satisfied workforce.

As leaders in health care we know three important facts

• Approximately 25 per cent of the workforce in health care is eligible to retire now or in the next five years according to OHA’s 2007 Labour/Market Survey

• The next generation of health-care workers want mobility, access to technology, flexibility and work life balance

• People leave managers and not the work

Do you have what it takes to attract and then retain talent? Do you have an employee or organizational brand that differentiates you from other hospitals of similar size and scope? Here at Credit Valley Hospital we call it “the Credit Valley way”. We believe “our way” has created an organization that leverages our services and values to create a work environment for success. This coupled with our location and our regional and community care mandate is a recipe for success.

Making people our priority is a key mantra for a great leader. If you have an engaged workforce, you’re on the right track. The challenges – deficits, whether they are skills or financial; aging workforce; and public expectations – can be managed, if you have the right mix of employees who are committed to the organization. They must understand and share your values; they must feel engaged; they must be inspired to do their best work and they must believe you care about what they do.

In order to be successful in our recruitment and retention, we need to watch, listen and engage the people we employ. All the research and the Top 100 employers would tell you to focus on six key drivers to employee satisfaction.

Our leaders need to connect to employees with a vision. Visioning is not a statement – it is a roadmap to the future. An engaged employee wants to know why they are getting up each day and that they are making a difference.

Giving them the training and tools to make better decisions will drive them to a higher ground. Who knows, they may be future leaders. Experiential learning is a good thing! People inherently want to grow, not stagnate and if they aren’t interested, then chances are, they’re not the right fit for your organization.

Once they have the training, give them the chance to use it, make sure you have career development. Interesting and challenging work will keep them engaged. Pity the employee who dreads Monday morning – or any day of work for that matter. Sometimes all it takes is the opportunity to take on a special project to move an employee from the first to third gear.

Even so, that Monday morning could be a problem for some employees… not because of the work… but because of home and the “life” pressures that sometimes tip the delicate balance. Policies and practices that include flexible work hours, self-scheduling, working from home, all help to create a positive work environment and drives employee satisfaction. Recognition that their work is important and valued by their managers keeps most employees firing on all cylinders.

Surprisingly perhaps, salary doesn’t even figure into the top three rankings of employee satisfaction. However, employees need to believe their compensation is fair.

The last but key to sustaining the first five drivers (vision, training and development, career opportunities, flexible work environment and compensation) is inspirational leadership. One of the top reasons employees leave their jobs is their manager. They need to know the manager respects and trusts them to do their job – and gives them the freedom and accountability to make decisions within their sphere of influence. If it’s the wrong decision…well when was the last time you made a mistake? We all do. We learn from them and move on.

What keeps people working in your organization is also the recipe for attracting people to the organization. The key to retention starts with effective recruitment. If you focus on benchmarking your best employees and their competencies, use exit interviews to improve your organization and process. Always remember to hire for talent and not position then you will be ahead of the game. Too often we rush through this process and forget the costs associated with getting it wrong. On average turnover costs an organization about 1.5 times the salary of the position. This doesn’t even include the costs of loss of knowledge, relationships and productivity.

Bottom line: take your time and get it right as it is not just about today but about tomorrow and a long term investment.

Know what differentiates you and leverage it big time. The Top 100 employers know what this is for them. It involves getting the big six right and having differentiation in doing so. Think about who is offering fitness rooms for employees or education leaves.

Part of being a leader is encouraging and mentoring our employees. They are the ones who “live” with our patients. They know the processes – and the pitfalls – better than us. Give them the freedom to streamline processes or try something new – as long as they are not taking unnecessary risks. People leave poor managers, not their work, so invest in the best managers.

We as leaders need to motivate; encourage creativity and innovation and spend time with our staff. We need to communicate, not through just email or voicemail… face to face, side by side, asking questions, encouraging their questions and feedback and influencing positive incomes. And that in turn will drive recruitment because people who love what they do, love to tell others and so the wheel turns and drives our success.

As leaders in health care, our role is even more critical given the alternatives to not having a prepared workforce of the future. Patient care will be a victim if we don’t’ make talent management and people a burning platform.