Employee performance management has always been a priority in healthcare. Client care is at the heart of this industry, and employee performance and compliance are just a few of the standards that determine organizational success.

Many healthcare organizations were starting to get their ducks in a row where performance management is concerned—but then COVID-19 hit, and everything was put on pause as they responded to the crisis. The immense competence and dedication shown during this time is nothing short of miraculous. 

But with this high-intensity environment comes great potential for burnout, which could easily lead to a systemic crisis if not managed adequately. Employee performance management in healthcare has never been more critical. Renewed focus in this area will help organizations thrive and become more resilient for whatever they may face in the future. 

Performance Management Concerns in Healthcare

Healthcare is a unique niche when it comes to its workforce. Organizations often have multiple locations and diverse, distributed employee groups that require tailored development and review strategies based on individual needs. Additionally, there are multitudes of accreditation bodies in the mix that mandate competency, regulatory compliance, ongoing skill assessments, and continuing education. Finally, most staff are on their feet all day, making documentation and regular performance discussions challenging to mandate and track.  

Now that we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel where the pandemic is concerned, HR in healthcare is refocusing on streamlining and automating performance management. 

Here are some of the trends we are seeing:

1. The need for quick and effective physician reviews. Front-line leaders need to be on top of their game. Concerns must be addressed quickly and regularly so your best people can continue to deliver their best work. Ongoing multi-disciplinary reviews and upward feedback are necessary to keep essential leadership focused and on track. More healthcare organizations are instituting a culture of frequent and timely feedback and check-ins to help identify blind spots and address performance issues before affecting client care. Feedback and performance journals and reviews also allow organizations to set goals, recognize a job well done, and track milestones along the way. 

2. Agile goal and development planning has always been an allusive ‘unicorn’ for many organizations in healthcare; however, with the onset of COVID and the massive shift in roles and priorities, this concept quickly turned from being a unicorn to becoming a necessary reality. Workers across all departments have had to abandon goals, alter development and training, and re-prioritize tasks for the organization to efficiently meet patient, family, and regulatory demands. For the most part, organizational goal planning and tracking have not kept up with the dynamic nature of work, and employees are left unclear of actual expectations and at a loss when it comes to recognition. Organizations in healthcare are quickly turning to a more agile and flexible goal management model that allows for easy and ongoing updates to employee expectations, development needs, and results and a more flexible approach to overall performance tracking.  

3. 360˚ peer assessments create a culture of unified accountability and shared success. These factors are a critical concern in employee happiness, as a strong culture aligns teams to the overarching mission of providing the best possible client care. HR pros are leveraging 360° multi-rater assessments more than ever to give organizations in healthcare access to real-time, boots-on-the-ground feedback and insight, helping to identify hidden opportunities and mitigate issues before they become ‘situations.’ 

4. Defining and tracking core values ensures that shared behaviors, standards for quality care, and interdepartmental priorities drive organizational success. At a fundamental level, some of these core values are compassion, empathy, honesty, culture, community, excellence, integrity, and learning. Still, each organization—and often individual teams within the organization—will have its core values. Track performance and behaviors at a granular level is a considerable advantage, especially during these challenging times, and allows HR in healthcare to weave core values into daily behaviors and interactions.

5. Empowering employees in being a part of their career paths is a strong trend today. Many healthcare workers have gone above and beyond over the past year and a half. In many cases, new aptitudes have emerged, revealing leadership qualities or parallel skills that add value to the organization. As these attributes are acknowledged, leaders should have the flexibility to develop and nurture those skills adequately. Giving employees a say in their futures strengthens the unit, reduces attrition, and improves outcomes for all stakeholders. 

6. Moving online with cloud-based software is a significant trend. Many organizations shifted to remote work during the pandemic, and most will continue to support this practice for employees that can and wish to do so. Remote access to shared software tools enables collaboration, oversight, and clear communication for distributed teams and field workers, such as home healthcare workers who might not be able to visit the office regularly. Cloud access and software integrations that support ongoing performance monitoring ensure all employees are connected and that coaching, feedback, and performance discussions are always top of mind – from anywhere. 

7. Understanding drivers of engagement and performance requires adequate reporting and proper tracking tools, such as surveys. Companies in healthcare are using surveys to gauge employee satisfaction, engagement and gain insights on new hires. Surveys can be anonymous or named, depending on the objective, but in all cases, they are an excellent way for healthcare organizations to get the data they need to assess satisfaction and drivers and to make better organizational decisions. 

8. Identifying and developing the right talent to step into different roles is essential to business growth and innovation. Talented employees with leadership potential need to be identified and nurtured into their roles over time. Failing to do so is usually the company’s loss, as top talent tends to move on to greener pastures. In times of crisis, it’s easy to overlook such details, but considering the staffing crisis the healthcare industry faces today, this is now a critical priority. Succession planning tools, like the nine-box talent matrix, help identify talent within the organization and offer ways to plan for critical succession gaps. 

9. Ensuring merit and bonus budgets are optimized and allocated fairly and properly helps organizations reward and motivate performance and retain skilled talent. When employees feel valued and engaged, they are more likely to stay. However, in today’s highly competitive job market, companies have to be sure you pay staff what they are worth. Proper compensation and bonuses tied to performance connect results to rewards—a highly motivating factor that will keep teams focused on doing their best work. A compensation management tool takes the personal bias out of the equation, ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and feel valued. 

emPerform offers a suite of cloud-based tools to help healthcare organizations automate and streamline all aspects of performance management to identify opportunities, nurture talent, and make data-driven decisions. In the effort to grow and thrive in these challenging times, effective employee performance management reveals critical blind spots that would otherwise be overlooked. 

Since 2004, emPerform has been working with both small and large organizations in healthcare to re-tool performance management, drive value, boost engagement, align expectations, and remove the complexities and barriers involved with nurturing and retaining top talent. Reach out today to set up a call. We’d love to learn more about your team and show you how we can help.