Recruit and retain top talent in the post-pandemic world


This is the fifth article in a series about process-based opportunities as the health sector begins to emerge from the challenges of the pandemic. As noted in introduction to this series, each of these articles will define a problem, consider the problem and its implications for health care, and then present potential solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of the way people work and has created process and logistical challenges in how organizational leaders facilitate their work. In the previous article on telemedicine, I wrote about the rush to get patient care back online with telemedicine. This is how we reactivated frontline health workers, but now we need to go back and reevaluate what we left behind in the process to get there. In that review process, we also need to consider more than frontline healthcare professionals.

We often talk about doctors, nurses and other doctors in the context of health care provision in the coronavirus era. We tend to focus less on white-collar workers – people in finance, information technology and other operational areas – but they are the ones whose jobs have changed the most in this tower.

What will their future workplace and concept of work look like, and how will we find the appropriate people for these vital positions and keep them engaged in a rewarding environment? The answers to these questions will be crucial for healthcare organizations in the future. The search for solutions begins by examining the transformation of talent in this environment of major organizational change.

The problem

In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the United States, causing disruptions in nearly every industry. High-contact industries such as hospitality, essentially closed. The health sector has been particularly hard hit, as non-urgent preventive care and non-emergency surgery stopped for months. Frontline health workers have been hit by the onslaught of COVID patients, while executives and white-collar workers in the health sector have largely been forced to work remotely.

Until the end of 2020, many workers continued to work remotely, but these changes were mostly seen as temporary, especially as the year ended with promising vaccines on the horizon. It was assumed that eventually things would return to “normal”. Eventually it may not come soon.

Implications for health care

Often, when a problem is examined, the implications for health care are largely negative. I would like to look at some of the positives of the pandemic-induced job stoppage “problem” because it has led to significant transformative innovation in the way we employ and develop our talent.

Most of the implications for health care are about what happens when things settle down, if they do. I see a lot of articles and opinion articles speculating about what the future of work will be for health care workers in jobs that encourage remote work. Will they work remotely? Will they all go back to the office? Will they work with a hybrid model? These questions are often asked as if what happens is out of our hands. It is not.


In most cases, the ideal benefit of implementing a major organizational system / process change is to significantly increase the productivity of the people who use and are affected by the systems and processes introduced. Hence, it is ironic and often regrettable that how these people fit into the workflow and perhaps, more importantly, how they think they fit into it are often overlooked in implementation planning.

After a year and a half of working on this new model, we are now starting to collect some data to help us move forward. In PwC’s latest US Pulse Survey (August 2021), 32% of healthcare leaders firmly agreed that the number one factor driving return-to-work planning has been employee preference.

I believe this is the way it should be, not just from a corporate culture standpoint, but because those employees have lived with the pros and cons of living under this grand experiment for 18 months, so they have a lot in the way of insights. to share. What do they want this future to be, what do they like and what worries them?

First, let’s consider the pre-pandemic remote work view. In a survey of more than 1,200 workers in the United States shortly before the pandemic arrived, workers who worked remotely, full-time or part-time, said they were happier and less stressed, they felt more trusted in their organizations. And less likely to leave for another job than those who work full-time in the office.

When it came to issues impacting recruiting in that same survey, 71% of respondents agreed that being able to work remotely would make them more likely to choose one employer over another when they go for their next job. . 81% said having the remote work option would make them better able to handle work-life conflicts, and the same percentage said it would make them more likely to recommend their organization to a friend.

The August 2021 PwC study mentioned earlier surveyed more than 750 executives and 1,000 employees in the healthcare sector. When employees were asked which incentives were most attractive to them, time flexibility was at the top of the list with 38% of respondents ranking it in the top three (linked to extended benefits).

Fourth on the list of 10 was position flexibility. When the managers were asked how their organization differed from the current and expected labor market, the flexibility of the position and the flexibility of the hours were assessed respectively n. 3 and n. 4, also very high. Interestingly (and appropriately, I would say) the executives evaluated corporate purpose and values ​​and corporate leadership and culture as the two main ways they differ with potential and current employees.

According to the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, before the pandemic began, only 9% of employees said their employers were introducing new ways of working. Today, 78% reported that their employers had already implemented new ways of working or were planning to do so. As the the authors of the report point out, leaders are learning that virtual work “is not about replicating in-person work online, but rather about harnessing new technology to rethink work, teams and culture.”

We are in the midst of an upheaval and there are signs that we need to throw away some of our old ways of thinking about recruiting and retaining the right people. In the next article in this series, I will continue to delve into this topic by examining how the home health care sector could provide a model for creating a thriving location-independent workforce.

Sam Hanna is a resident executive at American University. Previous roles include consulting practice leader, chief strategy and innovation officer, and digital strategist at global consulting firms such as PwC and Deloitte. He holds a PhD in Translational Health Sciences from George Washington University and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Babson College.


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