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Strategic HR for a VUCA Business Climate

With an aging customer and employee base, rapidly evolving government regulations and fluctuating business models, the health care industry is very much a VUCA environment — volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

This reality is putting health care organizations under an unprecedented amount of pressure as they try to maintain a talented workforce in this very dynamic environment — and it’s only going to get more complex moving forward.

That means HR leaders in the health care industry are going to have to be much more agile and resilient in their approach to talent management. They will have to be more strategic in how they address critical talent management risks and needs going forward.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with health care HR leaders about these challenges at a Louisiana Hospital Association conference. Here’s an overview of my four key takeaways on being a more agile and resilient HR leader for the VUCA world.

PURPOSE — Where are we going?

Clarity of vision and purpose is key.  If you want to plan for the future, and develop a people strategy to make that future a successful one, you have to know where your organization is going. You have to have clarity of vision. And first you must have purpose.

Start by simply asking “where are we going as an organization?” Then determine how familiar your HR team is with this overarching organizational strategy, and think through what it means for your people strategy. Will your business be growing into new areas? What services may be increasing, decreasing or evolving? Will you merge with another company or step into an entirely new market area?

HR leaders have to think about what the human implications are for the company’s strategic goals.

PERSPECTIVE — What Do We Have?

Once you’ve re-focused on your organization’s vision and purpose, you need some perspective — which is fundamentally about answering the question: “where are we and what do we have in place?” And you find this answer by examining your company’s people strategy for critical risk and needs. What are our critical positions? What does our talent pool look like? Flight risks and retirements? Where are our gaps and holes?

I see HR people avoid things like succession planning and knowledge transfer all the time because they think it’s more complex than it actually is. The truth is that you can start these efforts by simply examining your organizational chart and performing a quick assessment of the big picture around your personnel.

Identify positions or people that have or require a rare skill set or knowledge, along with flight or retirement risks and people who have an oversized impact on your bottom line. These are your key leaders and roles that should be a point of focus in your succession planning efforts.

PEOPLE — How Do We Build Team & Create A Great Culture?

In a highly volatile environment like the healthcare industry, the ability to build an organization that people want to work for and with is essential.  Creating a culture that puts people first means we must: 1) improve our diversity and inclusion efforts, 2) continue to build internal and external partnerships, 3) develop leaders who inspire trust and confidence. Communication, coaching and developing all leaders are fundamental to a thriving organization. HR plays a key role in leading the way to build an organization that can do all of these things well, even amidst constant change. And it all begins and ends with high-quality people.

PROBLEM SOLVING — How do We Thrive?

Organizations that will be successful long-term are those that are willing to be creative and innovative — it can be literally life and death for organizations. Which means creative problem solving and forward-thinking is required for health care organizations to thrive — and ultimately survive.

With this in mind, HR has to develop more novel and flexible ways to execute a great people strategy.  From investing in earlier career development to reverse mentoring and mobile execs, we have to be more imaginative and willing to take action before it’s too late.

As we continue to move into an unprecedented period of change across the business landscape, health care organizations and their HR departments must invest energy and resources in their people strategy. It’s simply too dangerous to ignore.

Success Labs is a full-service, strategic organizational and leadership development company located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.

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