Anyone who has worked in patient care understands the amount of chaos that can ensue when coordinating staffing resources. Without a clear projection of needs, last-minute staffing adjustments are common. One unit may be overstaffed and sending nurses home, while another is scrambling for resources.
This silo approach to staffing in which managers look solely at their own unit when predicting needs and placing staff is a costly practice and frustrating for staff members. Adopting an enterprise approach to staffing is a vital first step for organizations to efficiently manage their workforce.
Transitioning from a silo approach to labor management to a practice that considers staffing at an enterprise level is a big leap, and requires a particular mentality. Organizations that have employed an enterprise approach to labor management share these five characteristics:
1. Strong organizational alignment
The best leaders know that core to leading any significant change is having the buy-in of all employees. Strong organizational alignment commands buy-in, leaving no other option than to be onboard with initiatives. An organization must have a clear vision of goals, shared responsibility, and personal accountability to achieve results. Clear communication from leadership about action plans keeps staff aligned with objectives, ensuring project timelines are met.
2. Cross-collaboration between leadership
Leadership should be informed and up to date on what is happening across departments and facilities in the system. This allows executives to work together to align their strategies and review outcomes. Leaders from various departments should have routinely scheduled collaboration sessions to provide updates on their staffing operations. This offers a platform to share ideas and successes with one another. This philosophy of transparency truly embodies an enterprise approach.
3. Forward thinking
Organizations that have adopted an enterprise staffing approach also tend to be on the leading edge of other initiatives and projects. Leaders in these health systems are visionaries and not afraid to take risks.
4. Identified workforce strategists
Companies aligned with an enterprise staffing mentality know the concerted effort and focus it takes to keep the organization on track with workforce goals. Depending on the size of the system, there is typically at least one person who focuses on implementing, guiding, and monitoring enterprise workforce strategies. This leader is keyed in on enterprise labor strategies and carries the decision-making authority to lead initiatives.
5. Open-unit philosophy
A unit classified as “open” fully embraces the enterprise staffing mentality by accepting competent staff being floated into the unit when needed, and will share staff with other units when there are greater needs. This team mentality requires strong collaboration between clinical leaders to use resources in the most effective manner and identify where the greatest need is. Clinical leaders know that sharing resources is not only what is best for the enterprise, but most importantly, ensures the best care for the patient.
Embracing an enterprise staffing mentality is a process that takes considerable planning and thought. But the outcomes are significant. Provider organizations that have adopted an enterprise labor management mentality realize operational efficiencies, better resource allocation, and improved staff satisfaction.