David Wilkins
David Wilkins

If we learned anything during the pandemic, it’s that minutes matter. COVID quickly exposed the importance of knowing when and where to find and deploy staff resources – and the need to do so fast. Senior care communities and other healthcare organizations learned the hard way how to balance staff schedules to meet surging demand, avoid burnout and reduce employee dissatisfaction and turnover. Now, as always, staffing levels, staff utilization and staff engagement continue to be the biggest drivers of patient and resident experience and outcomes.

The importance of this lesson was magnified during this pandemic, when senior living and senior care communities suffered the greatest losses and faced the most difficult staffing challenges. Looking ahead, one way to address these challenges is to mirror the way staffing agencies work. Their sole responsibility is to place the best talent in the right position at the right time – and quickly.

Real-time visibility into all staffing resources is the first step.

A first step is to have detailed knowledge of your staff’s, and even your prospective staff’s, core competencies, availability, management skills, etc. This also includes tracking their certifications and licenses and knowing that they are up to date. Ensuring that you can instantly identify employees who are suitable to fill critical positions based on their competencies and licenses is key in any crisis situation, not just a pandemic. And by investing in the development of your staff’s competencies, you’ll create a stable pipeline of talent to close both anticipated and unplanned workforce gaps, like those caused by COVID, and maintain patient or resident safety and satisfaction, as well as operational stability. 

Senior care organizations should not unnecessarily waste time and money orienting someone to a new unit when another staff member – who has already worked on that unit – may be available and willing to work. Successful organizations will focus on those processes and tools that enable them to be more efficient and accurate with planning, scheduling and quickly filling critical shifts – just like a staffing agency.

Sourcing and recruiting goes digital.

Maureen McGinness

Another key agency strategy is constant recruitment and nurturing of passive candidates through large talent networks. Central to this strategy are digital sourcing, hiring and candidate engagement technologies.

With the arrival of COVID and the subsequent need for facility lockdowns and quarantines, healthcare hiring became a highly digital affair, maturing and evolving at an unprecedented pace to be on par with other more progressive industries. Those healthcare organizations that adopted and embraced this transformation now have a significant competitive advantage in attracting and hiring top talent. Innovative and cutting-edge strategies like video interviewing, interview self-scheduling, texting, progressive profiling, advanced career websites and opt-in talent networks are rapidly becoming accepted practice. 

These advances help both candidates and hiring managers. For candidates, these advances provide greater flexibility in the hiring process, a faster and more efficient apply workflow, and a deeper understanding of the organization and its job openings, resulting in a better hiring experience for applicants. For hiring managers, many of these advances also greatly improve the efficiency and accuracy of the selection process, placing less demand on the limited bandwidth of recruiters and hiring managers and improving the quality and tenure of new hires.

2020 was a chaotic year for the healthcare industry, and unfortunately, COVID is still not in our rearview mirror yet. Senior care, the hardest hit of all healthcare sectors, should be proud of what it accomplished in such unprecedented times. Patient and resident care remained a top priority, and organizations’ ability to quickly redirect and tackle challenges was unmatched. 

Challenges will continue to arise as we continue to dig our way out of this crisis, but in this pivotal year of change, we believe that taking a cue from staffing agencies will help senior care and other healthcare providers across the continuum of care position themselves for continued success through 2021 and beyond.

David Wilkins is chief strategy officer for HealthcareSource and is responsible for product and solution strategy with oversight of the multi-year roadmap, related market research and new product innovation. With over 20 years of experience in talent management leadership roles, David has been a thought leader in the field of human capital management across a variety of critical subjects, including learning theory, social enterprise practices and strategic talent management.

Maureen McGinness leads HealthcareSource’s product marketing direction and strategic vision for the company’s talent management software and advisory solutions. She has been in the talent management software business for over 25 years.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.