Productivity is a concept that has long been feared, like a dark shadow or something that goes bump in the night, and it is still a source of anxiety for many healthcare professionals. For most, their experience, or the tales of others’ experiences, with productivity have left them scarred. The popular Netflix show Stranger Things, set in the 1980’s, is purposefully dated to elicit feelings of nostalgia among viewers and balance the suspense of its supernatural-thriller plot line. The history of productivity does not offer the same effect to those about to embark on a performance improvement adventure. That’s why it is important to shine a spotlight on productivity, bring it out of the dark, and conquer the stigma once and for all. While it is NOT a Demogorg on from the Upside Down, it is essential to note the similarities in how both should be approached.
Here are a couple of quick tips to overcome your organization’s fear of productivity:
- Don’t go it alone. Whether you are a group of misfit adolescents or a team of experienced hospital leaders, it is essential that you work together to tackle the tasks ahead. Productivity is a group effort, and improved performance cannot be achieved in a vacuum. Everyone adds different talents and expertise to the mix, which should be amalgamated to ensure a positive outcome.
- Have a plan. The antagonist in Stranger Things continuously changes and morphs to create new challenges, much like the healthcare environment. Nonetheless, the kids are always smart to plan ahead of confronting an obstacle head-on and quick to think on their feet when adjustments are needed. Productivity should be addressed in the same fluid manner. Thoughtful and realistic strategies are essential at the onset, but the ability to adapt is critical to success.
- Utilize the resources available to you. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a super-powered Eleven in their corner to eliminate adversity and save the day! However, that doesn’t mean that organizations are forced to fend for themselves when it comes to workforce optimization and labor management. Be sure to arm yourselves with the data and tools necessary to set meaningful goals and track progress towards them. Don’t shy away from partnerships with outside consultants and content experts that can help to navigate the unfamiliar.
- Never be complacent. Just when you think the heroes of Stranger Things have defeated their enemy and are about to live happily-ever-after, that’s when the resurgence occurs. Though this repetitive cycle is good for the continuation of a TV show story line and high viewer ratings, it is bad for the business of healthcare. No organization wants to fall victim to the FTE creep. Once the hard work is done and the desired financial results have been achieved, it is a major setback to find yourself right back where you started. Avoid a sequel by never reaching the end to begin with! Productivity should be viewed as a constant process with routine target reviews and changes to stay ahead of any factors that may have a negative impact on operations.
In reality, productivity is not something to fear but rather, pun intended, a necessary evil! Those working in healthcare need to see it for what it actually is, like a simple tree branch brushing a bedroom window, and not what they expect it to be; a system out to get them designed to make their jobs more difficult. The “doing more with less” mantra is often bundled together with productivity, but it couldn’t be further from what productivity truly represents. It is about proper alignment and allocation of resources to improve performance and promote efficiency.
For the last fifteen years, ALTIUS has been helping hospitals and health systems to establish productivity systems that produce lasting results. If you would like to discuss the framework for a successful process in your organization or about how to further eradicate the fear of productivity within your staff, reach out directly!