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HR’s unique role in making the healthcare industry more forward-focused

Casey Garamoni, Medxcel
Casey Garamoni
Casey Garamoni serves as Vice President of Human Resources for Medxcel, an integrated healthcare facilities management organization with a sole focus on healthcare. Casey brings over 15 years of experience to Medxcel, where she is responsible for the HR function, including developing and implementing strategies for talent development, acquisition and HR services.

The human resources world is no longer a reactive function. Gone are the days when an HR manager would sit back until an employee would come in with a benefit or payroll question, HR would answer it and then both move on. HR has been on a necessary journey to be more proactive in how we lead the business.

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This means that HR teams need to be able to help leaders understand gaps in their current workforce, whether those are skill-based or knowledge-based, and be able to plan for what’s on the horizon.

The role of HR is to understand both current and future industry trends. HR departments need to know where our organization currently is, what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and who we need to employ to make it happen. We also need to be able to perceive the future of where the industry and market are going to be able to communicate to our organizations that we’re thinking ahead and trying to remove roadblocks before they exist.

This is of particular importance in the healthcare industry. The healthcare workforce is seeing shortages across the board. This extends beyond clinical practitioners to the people who keep the hospitals running for clinicians and patients alike. HR is critical to anticipating future needs and actively working to achieve them because healthy workplaces are vital to fostering caring healing environments.

Upskilling and reskilling trade professionals

Hospitals use approximately 7% of all water used by commercial and institutional facilities in the U.S. When a single hospital uses hundreds upon hundreds of gallons of water per day, a skilled plumber is necessary to ensure everything flows smoothly. As hospitals work to become more sustainable and reduce their water usage, plumbers will need to adjust, as well.

HR needs to look to the horizon to know how AI and automation may play roles in the future of plumbing and what kind of staffing and training current and future employees will need to grow with the changing technologies.

This is just one example of dozens of trade professions in healthcare facilities that health systems’ HR teams will need to prepare for. Beyond ensuring healthcare facilities are working at their best, upskilling and reskilling professionals is a strong retention tool that allows us to invest in employees and create generational change.

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It’s difficult to quantify, but typically organizations can foster in their employees a deeper appreciation of and care for the organization when those employees feel that they’re being invested in. The hope is that those employees will want to keep those skills internally; however, more broadly, we want to invest in them holistically to ensure their skills are relevant in the current market.

Even if they choose to leave our organization down the road, we’re also creating generational change. Any training an organization provides, whether the employees stay or don’t, is going to provide a lasting impact and greater opportunities to continue to upskill, earn more money and pour that into their families.

True employee investment allows us to grow their development and give them the education and knowledge to continue to be relevant in their field so the field doesn’t change around them. When that leads to retention within our organization, it’s a win-win.

Fostering healing environments through healthy workplaces

In healthcare, what we do is not about us. What we do and how we show up is about the communities in which we serve. Healthcare facilities personnel don’t sit at home or in a corporate office; they are in hospitals interacting with or passing by patients, caregivers, nurses and doctors. If we don’t have a healthy work environment and our employees are disgruntled and unmotivated, even when fixing a toilet or changing a lightbulb, that will add more stress on a patient’s already overwhelming situation.

See also: Trust in employers is high. But so are employee expectations

Most patients don’t want to be in a hospital to begin with, so we want our hospitals to be places where people feel comforted, cared for and welcomed. Our job in HR is to serve our employees. Our job in healthcare HR is to ensure that what we do is serving somebody else—making somebody else’s life and experience in a hospital a little better even though they don’t want to be there. We have to impact our employees holistically so they can then serve and care for others.

HR helps organizations understand where they function with a macro view. HR teams show what is happening on a grander scale to help make sure leaders are planning for the future, not just managing the now. Too often, HR can get into the weeds of tactics and policing, and we must move out of that mentality to play a more strategic role in guiding our teams and leaders into the future of healthcare.