The business headlines and discussions I’ve had with HR practitioners over the past few months have made one thing clear – a transformation is underway within human resources, and the focus on how people and their performance are managed is at the core of it. Much of this seems triggered by the work environment itself, which is now faster, more global, and multi-generational.
Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in the US healthcare industry. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has forced change into healthcare provider organizations’ business environment and, in doing so, has instigated a need to rethink talent management and succession planning.
While healthcare HR practitioners are no doubt being challenged by this disruptive change, it is also a welcome opportunity to demonstrate value as a ‘strategic’ partner, in addition to the ongoing transactional functions that HR provides to hospital organizations.
To learn about the state of talent management in the US healthcare industry, we turned to Dr. Kevin Groves. Kevin is an associate professor of management and currently holds the Denney Chair Professorship, an endowed fellowship that supports his research on succession planning and talent management practices in healthcare organizations at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management. He is also president of Groves Consulting Group, a consultancy that helps organizations develop talent through leadership assessment, development and succession planning systems.
We asked Kevin a few key questions, and here’s what he had to say.
What, specifically, about the Affordable Care Act has made it imperative for US healthcare to change?
Kevin: It’s the shift from volume- to value-based performance metrics. As with most industry transformations, major shifts in the business environment drive the need to implement significant changes across an organization—including the acquisition, selection, development, and retention of leadership talent. And what is of particular interest to me and integral to my research is the ACA’s publicly available data sources, such as ww.CMS.gov, which allow for rigorous analysis of value-based metrics to assess whether talent management practices are actually effective or not.
What kind of research and client projects are you currently working on?
Kevin: I regularly conduct field studies, including benchmarking surveys, case studies, ROI analyses, and client projects that help advance HR’s understanding of how excellence in talent management and succession planning helps drive strategic outcomes for hospitals and health systems. I am also currently completing a book, tentatively titled Executive Talent Management & Succession Planning for Healthcare Organizations, that will be published this summer.
Your research concretely connects robust performance appraisal practices to higher HCAHPS scores. Can you explain this connection for us?
Kevin: Yes, sure. First of all, it’s probably helpful to define what we mean by a ‘robust’ performance appraisal practice. My research and industry work shows that robust performance appraisal includes:
- objective performance metrics;
- regular feedback and coaching conversations;
- multi-source feedback for supervisors, managers, and others in leadership roles; and
- actionable development plans.
When you have strong performance appraisal practices, employees in patient-facing roles can clearly identify their strengths and development areas relative to the various aspects of patient satisfaction, which is what HCAHPS scores assess. Perhaps most importantly, a robust performance appraisal practice includes practical steps to improve one or more elements of patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience.
Your research also illustrated the importance of effective onboarding in health systems. How does onboarding connect to patient satisfaction?
Kevin: Yes, my research and client projects in hospitals and healthcare systems consistently finds that highly effective onboarding practices are associated with:
- reduced time to productivity;
- enhanced employee engagement; and
- job performance.
Specific to patient satisfaction, nurses and other caregivers who complete high-quality onboarding programs are more engaged and also higher-than-average performers. Plus, they are less apt to leave the organization over time, which means lower annual employee turnover rates and personnel transitions. In patient-facing roles, fewer personnel transitions means higher patient satisfaction. So, yes, my research finds that exemplary onboarding programs are a strong driver of high patient satisfaction scores.
Want to learn more about best practices in healthcare talent management?