8 trends for a changing healthcare workforce

By Michelle McNickle
02:47 PM

5. The changing future of healthcare leadership. Amidst the negative effects of the changing workforce on healthcare, said Wingrove, there is one positive change he believes will be seen. “Healthcare is one of the industries where it’s tended to have a relatively bureaucratic and traditional style of management,” he said. “Frankly, healthcare isn’t known for the quality of its management; healthcare is largely populated by experts in their fields, and that means they’re not great at general management and leadership.” But what’s going to happen, predicts Wingrove, concerns the younger generation stepping in to fill gaps. According to him, millennials are more demanding, more social and more connected. “They don’t recognize hierarchies and structures,” he said. “So I think it’s going to open up a lot more debate about more cross-functional work and creating more mobile workforces…the locus of power is going to change. If you go into a hospital now, the locus of power is with the clinicians and the senior leadership team. If you go into more contemporary organizations, like Google, the locus of power is with the employees.”

6. The rise of more open communication and collaboration. Younger employees, particularly those using social media, have a more open concept of communication, said Wingrove. “People, typically in their early 20s, don’t even recognize email as technology; everything is done through texting,” he said. “So, I think we’re going to see an opening up of communication and a much more fluid flow of information.” This will also include more innovation in areas that have been traditionally stagnant, he continued, like management, leadership and structure. In fact, a better sense of openness is going to address a significant issue of finding those who can fill leadership roles. “And IT isn’t exempt from that,” he said. “We’ve bred technically capable people, but we haven’t bred healthcare people, and we certainly haven’t bred business people. I think the younger generation is more willing to broaden their knowledge of expertise and skill…if they don’t have the information given to them, they’ll go find it.”

[See also: Workforce training at work.]

7. The impact of company culture on recruitment and retainment. Although recruitment is clearly an issue, said Wingrove, the problem runs deeper. In fact, organizations can’t expect to solve their recruitment conundrums without having a culture and environment where people can excel and want to stay. “Recruiting people is only feeding one end of the pipeline that’s open at the other. An organization has to manage their entire pipeline of talent, where, if you’re going to bring the right people on board, you have to assimilate them into the organization and excite them enough to stay.” He said it’s crucial to develop a synergy between an organization’s engagement and retention strategies and its recruitment strategies, since, “you want to recruit people who are going to be relatively self motivated and independent: people who are going to view themselves as part of the business and not just as technical specialists, and then develop a leadership and management style that’s going to allow those people to feel respected - that’s adding value to the organization as a whole.” 

8. The younger generation’s desire to have a broader say in the business. “I do believe the younger generation coming in wants to have a broader say in the business,” said Wingrove. “If you bring someone in as a programmer, you shouldn’t assume they just want to be a programmer - they want to take an interest in why what they’re doing matters.” The newer generation doesn’t view their positions purely as jobs, continued Wingrove. Instead, they want to feel they’re part of the business, and therefore need to be encouraged to view themselves as part of a bigger team. “They’re not merely a programmer, an analyst or a clinician,” he said. “They’re part of a healthcare system, and that’s one of the things that’s going to differentiate between the organizations that are successful at attracting and keeping people versus those with a constant churn of people.”