Top tips for riding out uncertainty

By Darren Kilmartin*
Monday, 22 June, 2020

Top tips for riding out uncertainty

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first time a crisis has come along and changed how we look at the world, nor will it be the last. But it does offer us the chance to consider our response to these unexpected circumstances and consider how the lessons we have learned over the past couple of months can help us navigate uncertainty in the future.

The pandemic has been a disruptive event, particularly in the healthcare industry. Workforce management tools have played a key role in providing organisations with the operational transparency and visibility needed to make decisions about the future and respond to uncertainty with flexibility.

Be proactive, not reactive

There are so many benefits to having a risk management approach. Many healthcare businesses are still nervous about the prospect of somebody in their organisation testing positive for COVID-19. By adopting workforce management tools, organisations can understand where employees are across their sites and what that exposes the organisation to. This capability enables hospitals and healthcare organisations to take proactive steps to manage uncertainty before it becomes a problem. This lesson also applies to other situations: a business that is futureproofed for uncertainty will have a proactive workforce management strategy in place so that when a crisis comes along, it can be more than just reactive.

Preparing for the future

Laying this kind of proactive groundwork is a step that many businesses find pays off in the future. For instance, a challenge within any clinical IT system is user adoption and engaging staff to make use of a system once it’s been implemented. The thing about crises is that, by their very nature, they demand that change is embraced with flexibility and agility. This is happening currently, with businesses being exposed to a range of digital technologies that permit staff to work from home. Having figured out how to use this technology when we had to, we are all now familiar enough with it to keep making the most of it even once normality has resumed.

So, long after this crisis has passed, workforce management solutions will continue to be of real benefit to hospitals and healthcare organisations. Actions like optimising a workforce and understanding where your workforce is with real-time data will continue to help drive efficiencies and make healthcare providers better positioned for the future.

Good for organisations, good for workers

The benefits of implementing workforce management technology can be fairly obvious in the case of businesses that are using antiquated systems like Excel spreadsheets and paper and are lacking a centralised point of employee data. These organisations can experience a significant return on investment simply by implementing workforce management technology. But even businesses on more advanced systems see benefits from features like easy access to information on their workforce. That’s not only on an operational level but also on a strategic and leadership level, especially when it comes to times of uncertainty.

Workforce management technology also makes a huge difference from an employee perspective. Having happy employees, especially during this time in which all health organisations are busy and under a lot of stress, is really meaningful.

Workforce management solutions have a focus on employee engagement, such as ensuring that employees can easily swap shifts and do their work without fatigue. Taking critical steps like making it easy for employees to know where their roster is, when they’re rostered, that they’re being paid right, or even knowing that they’ve got the right amount of leave saved up and that they can take the leave, is so important in helping everyone get through difficult times.

Applicable to all crises

The COVID-19 pandemic affects the healthcare system in obvious ways, but health has particular importance in all moments of uncertainty. Many businesses found that data management tools were extremely helpful in responding to the bushfires that swept the country this past summer. These are tools that can be used across different scenarios but with similar impacts.

For healthcare organisations, maintaining and maximising the welfare, wellbeing and availability of a workforce — and of other resources — is crucial. Having that data accessible and online made a huge difference in that scenario.

In uncertain times, here’s one certainty: the healthcare industry is busier than ever. Workforce management technology helps ensure that businesses can continue to run their operations smoothly, efficiently and with best practices in place, and ultimately provide valuable time back to the patients or clients that they serve.

*Darren Kilmartin is Head of Healthcare Practice, ANZ and SEA at Kronos Incorporated.

Image credit: © Images

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