Strategic Human Resource Management in Health Care

Human resource has been recognized as the most important resource to which any business can have access. Previously, the exact role played by human resources in organizations was underrated due to limited research on the topic. However, with more research on the role played by the human resource, as well as analysis of successful firms, it became increasingly clear that human resource plays the greatest role as far as achievement of organizational goals is concerned. With the advent of globalization, various factors began influencing the business environment such as the use of the Internet, effects of competition, and others. Businesses began changing strategies to incorporate the input from the human resource, as this was the only way they could survive stiff competition brought by globalization and technological change.

Strategic management of the human resource is therefore essential for the achievement of objectives and goals in any organization. There are various factors that should be incorporated in organizations if the human resource is to be motivated effectively. These factors include leadership, communication, employee motivation, organizational culture, and others. These and other factors will be analyzed in this article and their relation to human resource management, with a specific bias to the healthcare industry.

Motivation is an important factor in managing the human resource and ensuring that the input by employees increases. Motivation defines the drive or will by employees to perform their duties. Motivation may be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation arises from an internal will by an employee while extrinsic motivation arises from external factors which influence the drive-by employees to perform duties. In the health care industry, employees should be highly motivated since their services are crucial to a country and they directly affect the health of a nation. It is imperative that employees have intrinsic motivation in the health care industry for them to provide effective services to patients.

It is the duty of the management to ensure that employees are sufficiently motivated for them to increase productivity and meet their individual and organizational goals. The management should use a combination of non-financial and financial means of motivating employees. Non-financial motivation strategies include the use of praise, recognition, and improvement of the work environment. Financial means of motivation include an increase in salaries, financial rewards, and an increase in overtime, wages, and other economic rewards. However, managers in the health care industry should realize that non-financial motivation measures are more effective since they have a long-term effect on the employee.

Leadership

Leadership defines strategies that will be used by organizations to achieve their objectives. Leadership also ensures that duties are delegated according to the organizational structure and decisions implemented effectively to achieve organizational goals. There are four main leadership styles. The autocratic style gives instructions to employees without their involvement in decision-making. The bureaucratic style follows prior practices and procedures in carrying out organizational tasks. The laissez-faire style gives maximum freedom to employees as far as the performance of duties is concerned. The democratic style involves employees in decision-making in areas affecting their jobs. Many organizations use a combination of these styles, although there is a dominant style that features in all organizations.

In the health care industry, the democratic leadership style is very effective in achieving high employee motivation and increase productivity. When employees in this industry are involved in decision-making, they feel appreciated and will likely follow decisions which they were part of making. However, in complex and specialized sectors within the health care industry such as surgery units or Intensive Care Unit, the bureaucratic and autocratic styles should be used. These are units where mistakes are not allowed, and the experienced and qualified personnel should only issue directives to junior officers who implement without question.

Organizational Culture

This represents culture and beliefs which have been implemented in an organization for a long time duration, and have become part of the organization as a whole. The organizational culture defines what organizations stand for and they include aspects such as communication, conflict resolution, teamwork among other aspects. For employees to be sufficiently motivated, the organizational culture should involve them in decision-making and ensure that they have access to information concerning their core duties. There should also be a conflict resolution mechanism that is effective and employees should be encouraged to work in teams. In the health care industry, managers should improve the organizational culture since it has a direct impact on service provision. It directly affects employee motivation and employees directly deal with patient needs.

A conflict resolution mechanism is important in diffusing tension caused by conflicts among employees. This mechanism should adopt a mediation strategy where one employee should be elected and tasked with the responsibility of solving minor conflicts amongst employees. Major disputes should be forwarded to the management. In dealing with communication channels, senior members of management should ensure that junior employees have access to them so that they may discuss any issues affecting them. The organizational structure should be clear and information should flow freely within the health care organization. Employees should also be encouraged to work in teams depending on the assignment given to them. Teamwork enables employees to learn new skills and be innovative. Finally, employees should be given independence in the performance of tasks provided they are not tasks where mistakes are not permitted, which may jeopardize the lives of patients.

Employee Development

This is an aspect of human resources which deals with the selection of employees and training them effectively to meet the market needs. It begins with the recruitment process where employees are selected by the management and hired to perform specific activities. These employees are later trained to ensure that their skills met the dynamic needs of the market environment. This will be discussed in more detail below;

  • Recruitment Process –This is a process that aims at matching organizational needs with employee skills best suited for them. It involves the recruitment of employees whose skills, experience, and character match that of the organization. In the health care industry, this is a very important process since employee skills directly determine the health of the patients and population in general. The employer should ensure that the academic skills and experience possessed by candidates match the organizational needs. It should also investigate the background of potential candidate’s tenure that they a suited to work in the health care environment. In addition to having the educational background experience, candidates require to possess personalities that are tolerant to people of different cultural backgrounds. Employees selected should be tested on conflict resolution and their views on controversial issues to determine if they are best suited to work with others in harmony.
  • Employee Training –Employee training is designed to match the skills employees possess with the need of the modern world. The current business environment is dynamic, with market trends and needs changing, which makes it essential to match market needs with employee skills. In the health care environment, there are numerous procedures and interventions which are developed over time, which increase the efficiency of service provision, and it is important to ensure that employees possess these. Employee training should e carried out in fixed duration, especially when there is the advancement of technology needed in the specific field.

Managers in the health care industry should ensure that all employees are retrained after specific periods of time. This is very important in this industry since new medical interventions, procedures, and treatment methods are developed through research. Patients need access to the latest technology and trends if they are to recover on time. Retraining should take place through seminars, workshops, and courses that are developed by medical practitioners. When patients are confident in the technology and interventions used by health care practitioners, they are likely to recommend the same services through word of mouth, thereby creating customer loyalty.

Performance Appraisal

This is a part of human resource management which deals with the evaluation of organizational and individual employee’s performance over time. Performance appraisal involves analysis of the past performance and comparing it with targeted performance to determine whether organizational goals are being set. It is important to evaluate performance regularly in order to make changes that will enable performance to improve. Performance appraisal should be based on employee feedback, customer feedback, and certain business yardsticks such as profitability. In the health care industry, performance appraisal can be done by obtaining feedback from patients through service cards or suggestion boxes. It should be done periodically and preferably after every six months. Employees who perform below par should be evaluated, and business strategies changed if they are unable to meet market needs.

Conclusion

Various aspects of human resource management have been discussed relating to the health care industry. The health care industry is a sensitive industry since it deals with the health of the population in a country. It is therefore important for employees in this sector to give maximum input when performing their duties. In order for employees to do this, they have to be sufficiently motivated, and it is the duty of the management to motivate employees. A combination of non-financial and financial means of motivation should be used to motivate employees. In addition to this, the organizational culture should be suitable to the employee needs in order to ensure that employees are proud of their organization. This should encompass the leadership style, communication, and conflict resolution mechanisms. It is important to note that employees require regular training, especially in the health care sector to match their skills to those of the changing health care trends. Performance appraisal at periodic intervals will determine whether the organization should change its strategies to meet market needs. This will ensure that the organization performs better than competitors.

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