Think the skills gap is bad now?
Older workers are retiring in droves, at the tune of 10,000 each day, driving what one media outlet dubbed the “Baby Boomer Retirement Crisis.” Many of your facilities workers are poised to join that number, taking their skills and organizational knowledge with them. That’s not even counting the workforce damage healthcare facilities have suffered from downsizing, siloed functions, and fragmented recruiting. 

Who’s going to lead your organization through evolving market challenges in the months and years ahead? Not sure? Below we cover three vital steps to build a high-ROI, next-generation workforce.  
The short version:
  • Analyze your needs (based on data, not hunches)
  • Build internal skills and capabilities
  • Optimize your workforce (helping employees advance and bringing at least 70% of work in-house)
Let’s take them one at a time:
1. Analyze
Examine industry and organizational data, then use it to make evidence-driven decisions. 
Evaluate current data: Plan:
  • Labor
  • External service contracts (types, costs, terms)
  • Average repair times
  • Staffing needs in light of organizational goals
  • Turnover rates, including average retirement age
  • Identify critical positions your organization can’t thrive without. Plan for keeping those positions filled.
  • Evaluate the value of retiring positions: Do you need to replace the position or just a skills set?
  • Maintain contractor relationships that provide the most value. Gradually bring remaining capabilities in-house.
2. Build
Your best chance of curbing costs, boosting ROI and efficiencies is reducing your dependence on external service contracts. 
The Pew Research reports that 54% of workers say they can’t keep up with market changes without training and building new skills. And yet, few facilities workers receive professional training from their employers.
Healthcare facilities, in turn, routinely try to plug the skills gap with service contracts costing twice (or more) what it would cost to build those same capabilities in-house. The offshoot is that any short-term savings from a reduced workforce and training turn into giant expenses in the long-term.
To compete and thrive in tomorrow’s marketplace, you’ll need to start investing in your workers — now. The goal: No less than 70% of work performed in-house, reducing your dependence on costly service contracts.
Formalize a plan to determine: Strategies to explore:
  • WHAT types of training are needed.
  • WHO receives what training, based on your earlier needs assessment and workforce plan.
  • HOW to deliver that training.
  • Seek strong relationships and curriculum alignment with trade schools.
  • Leverage and invest in contractor relationships to train FTEs. Many are happy to train your staff, particularly on low-complexity functions.
  • Standardize training across all facilities.
  • Ensure no dead ends: Every employee should have advancement opportunities.
3. Optimize

Ensure your efforts yield long-term benefits by engaging and empowering the next generation or workers.

An associate who feels heard, valued and empowered will always do more than expected, and stick around for the long run. That’s a tremendous value in cost avoidance alone — even more so if you’ve trained employees to replace an expensive service contract or two. (We’ve written about other documented benefits of employee engagement here.)
Just as important, involve employees in decisions about their own development and career path. If you’re not in the habit of doing so now, prioritize sitting down with each of your associates and asking them: “Where do you want to take your career?” Then give them the support and tools to get there.
Build a partnership between each employee and the organization:
  • Make employees aware of professional development resources available to them, and the path to get to where they want to be.
  • Make employees aware of their responsibility in their path.
  • Listen carefully to employee feedback and questions via regular associate surveys and one-on-one discussions.
  • Act on the feedback you’ve received. Show employees how their input helps to drive organizational decisions.
  • Create individual development plans and revisit them with each associate throughout the year.
Ensuring a high-ROI workforce is more than just preparing front-line associates for leadership or recruiting the right people. It requires a culture of continuous learning as each associate evolves with the support of your organization.
Don’t leave your workforce planning to chance. Set aside some time now to share and work through the steps outlined above.
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