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Do These Four Things First

Looking forward to 2022

As I look back at 2021, I see some notable trends in healthcare IT. Most impactful in some respects was the trend toward people, especially those in mid-career, quitting their jobs in record numbers. I’ve talked with many people about this and we’re all a bit stumped as to where those folks are going and what they’re doing for food, shelter and basic necessities. Still, the reality is that people are tired on many levels and some are simply signing out of the work world.

For those of us still engaged in work and needing to fill vacancies, I think about what we can do. I tend to be a pragmatic optimist, so I believe there’s always an answer to a problem though we sometimes don’t immediately see it...or we have to allow time to catch up to us for the solution to become clearer. Waiting is not my strong suit, as anyone who’s ever worked with me knows. So, while I wait, I usually evaluate options. These are some thoughts about staffing in 2022.

1. Keep your current team.

If you have strong individuals today, you need to find ways to keep them content and engaged. That doesn’t mean bending to everyone’s individual whims, it means being present, listening and understanding what each individual on your team really needs. Sometimes it's private recognition, sometimes it's public accolades, sometimes it's a chance to tackle a difficult problem alone or to lead a special project. It also doesn’t necessarily mean throwing more money their way. We all know that money is only a dissatisfier. You can give someone a big raise and it gets normalized in about a month. However, if pay is not where it needs to be, people will jump ship with very little prompting. So, yes, part of your job is to review pay, internal equity, and market rates. But it also means being fair, flexible, and aware of the entire culture. Do people have equal access to opportunities for professional growth and development? Is your culture inclusive and engaging? Are you working to develop all your top talent and remediate those who are not yet top talent? What works for one person won’t work for another. As a leader, you need to use every tool in your toolkit to keep your best employees.

TOOLS: Skills assessments, training (formal, classroom, online, informal mentoring, brown bag sessions, virtual sessions, on-the-job training), engagement and inclusion activities (think of the break room or water cooler four years ago and find ways to create accidental engagement in the office and virtually).

2. Identify future needs.

We often fill vacancies based on past needs. It’s even more important to look forward and see what you’ll need in 6-12 months and beyond. It might make more sense to recruit for a skill you’re not quite ready to fully leverage rather than fill an old, legacy role. Sometimes the gap in staffing gives you enough breathing room to actually look ahead and make some strategic changes in roles and duties. Sometimes it makes sense to outsource the old skills and hire for the new skills. Use this time wisely.

TOOLS: Skills assessment, skills gap assessment and remediation plan, business strategy, IT strategy/architecture/roadmaps, automation and innovation opportunities, IT industry-specific trends (what’s happening in your sector), IT larger trends.

3. Identify your unique value proposition.

Why would people want to come work in your organization? What’s unique about it? What’s compelling? For some, it’s mission-driven; for others, it’s the opportunity to work on innovative projects or leading-edge technology; for still others, it’s the opportunity to make a difference. Whatever your value proposition, know it and promote it both with your existing staff and in your job postings.

TOOLS: Leadership communication, leadership visibility, communicating IT strategy and plans, organizational and departmental values, organizational opportunities to participate in non-IT activities. Social media engagement to promote organization’s value proposition.

4. Have your Plan B ready.

We have all been challenged over the past two years with the rapidly evolving changes to the very fabric of our society. Nothing is the same and things are still in flux. That being said, a good leader is always scanning the horizon, assessing risk and developing mitigation plans. Risk management is about identifying likelihood and impact of potential issues and generating potential remediation options (accept, transfer, reduce or avoid). Get your Plan Bs ready to go so you’re more prepared to handle the changes we’re sure to see in 2022.

TOOLS: IT strategic and operational plans, company strategic and operational plans, staffing skills/gap assessments, risk assessments (IT, cyber, systems, budget, staffing, etc.), alternative options and costs, managed services, consulting services, strategic partnerships.

Though it’s been a tough couple of years, I am very optimistic about the future.
I am surrounded by people who want to make the world a better place and that is an unstoppable force.
Here’s to a better 2022 for everyone.


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