Building future-ready healthcare supply teams
Disruption, on top of an ever-evolving healthcare model that’s continuously placing pressure on the supply chain, the 10,000 people who are retiring each day amid a limited hiring pool, and the added complication of an ongoing pandemic, has raised the stakes significantly for how healthcare supply chain leaders must recruit, retain and develop talent.
It’s no wonder that the topics of generational diversity and next-gen supply leaders were front and center at AHRMM19, and as many organizations kick off new fiscal years this summer with an eye on a fresh crop of graduates, we think it’s worth revisiting some key insights about today’s healthcare work force.
Allen Archer, director of Capital Equipment Services at HealthTrust, has a few ideas for attracting, retaining and developing healthcare supply chain employees, starting with understanding the diversity of mindset and motivation across the five generations making up today’s workforce – Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. As he puts it, “How we interact with the world is driven by our experience.”1
Tips for Recruitment: Sell the vision — healthcare has a great story to tell.
- Young professionals are looking for meaningful work and innovation — they want a career that will change the world. “We have an incredible story to tell — we have to sell it,” Archer says. “Keep them engaged and give them access. When they see the impact we have on patients, they will want to stay.”
- Internally, look for untapped talent or counterparts seeking a new opportunity — for example, scrub technicians or critical care nurses, who as supply chain’s biggest critic and biggest advocate, can offer your team additional perspective. Externally, broaden your network at AHRMM and other industry events as well as student interns.
- Don’t overlook the experience a Baby Boomer or Traditional can bring to the team. Also, employees five years from retirement or undergrad students can help meet needs and fill gaps.
- Build an environment that embraces flexibility and encourages professional development. “Young professionals grew up with workaholics and therefore yearn for work-life balance and a secure family life,” Archer says. “They look for opportunities to grow and advance and want to feel valued and challenged.”
Tips for Engagement: Know your audience, customize your approach.
Tips for Succession Planning: Be proactive and keep an open mind.
- The obvious choice might be your second in command, but don’t limit yourself to only the top of the organization.
- Set the vision and share it with potential managers in strategy conversations to help them acquire planning and leadership skills.
- When someone uses well-honed presentation skills or outperforms on a project, make note of it. Keep track of these achievements in a top-performer file so you have something to reference the next time a management position opens.
- As you identify top performers, offer mentoring relationships, job shadowing and training, which are true articles of value to help them develop new skills and refine existing ones.
- Remember that good leaders not only need technical acumen but also strong interpersonal skills, including standout verbal and written communication abilities, as well as tact and diplomacy.
- A vacation is a great time to have a potential successor step in to assume responsibilities. The employee will gain experience while you learn how prepared the person is to take on a bigger role.
- Once you’ve identified internal employees as successors for key roles in your organization, make note of any talent gaps. Use the gaps to define the training opportunities you need to offer your employees to build the team. If gaps remain, the succession planning process can help you identify where to focus your recruiting efforts.
At the end of the day, we all value the same thing no matter our age.
Still, with all of this, Jennifer J. Deal, a research scientist with the Center for Creative Leadership, warns against negative stereotypes of each generation, emphasizing that everyone in the workplace essentially values the same things. Deal is the author of the book, titled, “Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground,” which is based on seven years of research and a survey of more than 3,000 corporate leaders “Our research shows that when you hold the stereotypes up to the light, they don’t cast much of a shadow,” she says. “Everyone wants to be able to trust their supervisors, no one really likes change, we all like feedback, and the number of hours you put in at work depends more on your level in the organization than on your age.”2
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1 AHRMM19, “Generational Diversity in the Workforce: How Does This Affect Your Supply Chain"
2 “The Myth of Generational Differences in the Workplace,” American Medical Association, Jan. 24, 2019