Taking Care of the People Who Take Care of Your Patients

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By Cyndi Gibson and Madeleine Crivaro

There are many organizations who can say that people are their greatest asset; but, in healthcare, people, dedicated to the mission of delivering trusted care, are at the heart of this business.

Healthcare employees are driven by their desire and commitment to serve, to provide quality, innovative and excellent care, to put the patient at the center, to be compassionate — behaviors defined at the organizational level to deliver on the mission, vision and values.

But often, these dedicated healthcare professionals, driven by the need to serve, often neglect their own health. As a provider of healthcare, are you taking care of the people who take care of your patients?

Providing competitive pay and a comprehensive benefit program is essential and necessary to retain key talent and compete for talent in a tight labor market. Smaller healthcare organizations are in the middle of the pack when it comes to offering medical plan options/designs as well as other traditional benefits according to the recent Mercer National Survey of Employer Sponsored Health Plans. But when it comes to providing employees with valuable time off, healthcare organizations lead the pack. In the recent Mercer’s Absence and Disability Management Survey, healthcare organizations are approximately 30% ahead of other companies surveyed, when providing a competitive, equitable and meaningful Paid Time Off (PTO) program.

However, healthcare employees need more than traditional benefits and time off. Remembering that these employees often neglect their own health, healthcare organizations should consider creating more innovative programs designed to support the unique responsibilities of these employees.

These include:

Rewards and recognition programs. Healthcare organizations have a great opportunity to design programs that not only recognize someone for going above and beyond, but to celebrate each other, share inspiring patient and employee stories and applaud how employees lead the values of the organization.

Unique leaves of absence programs. While essential to comply with required legislative requirements around leaves of absence, the real opportunities lie in designing leaves of absence programs that support work/life balance, especially for healthcare employees. They, too, need time off for special circumstances. Only 22% of healthcare organizations surveyed provided paid time off for parental bonding care for the birth parent and 12% for the non-birth parent. Healthcare organizations also lagged the market by almost 20% in providing other types of leaves such as medical, adoption, jury duty, bereavement and sabbaticals.

Culture of health, wellness and well-being. Often, healthcare organizations have the greatest resources at their fingertips when it comes to health and wellness. Education and support are provided to patients as part of the care spectrum. It’s only natural that healthcare organizations take advantage of these tools for employees. Healthcare providers can often take advantage of existing curriculum and resources, tailored for employees.

Other programs that support physical, emotional, financial health and well-being and that should be customized especially for your workforce include:

  • Mindfulness/resilience programs geared to address daily stress – especially the stress of a healthcare employee
  • Sleep deprivation, study and treatment programs, especially important given the nature of the healthcare business
  • Technology and tools to support employees in their health journey such as smart phone apps, gamification and wearables to monitor activities and progress. In fact, 74% of small to medium-size healthcare organizations do not offer these types of important tools
  • Health and wellness coaches, telemedicine, nurse line and employee assistance programs (EAP) help to round out the package of tools and resources
  • Discounts on memberships such as yoga, gyms/fitness centers, weight loss programs and competitive health challenges all support good health
  • Tobacco-cessation support and coverage of tobacco cessation prescription drugs and state-provided programs are critical as part of any health and wellness initiatives

Mercer PeoplePro (https://mercerpeoplepro.com) has an on-demand team of consultants with deep expertise in healthcare, benchmark analysis, design and communication, ready to help you:

  • Think through the elements of a meaningful health, wellness and engagement strategy that supports your employees,
  • Increase productivity and enable employees to focus on the of heart of your business, and
  • Demonstrate that you really do take care of the people who take care of your patients.

About Mercer PeoplePro

Mercer PeoplePro™ is a simple, fast and affordable on-demand HR service for emerging businesses that need assistance on projects or need to augment an in-house HR team. Clients can browse profiles of the “Pro” or consultant whose experience aligns with their specific needs and schedule time directly through the website, or clients can connect immediately with a consultant through online chat.  Mercer PeoplePro is flexible: offering projects on a fixed fee basis or membership which provides a bulk purchase of consulting hours at a discounted rate, along with a dedicated resource.  Our consultants cover a wide range of expertise, such as compensation benchmarking, communications strategy, employee handbooks, HR technology market scans, employee engagement, wellness to well-being programs, and job description reviews and more.