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HCM Challenges of Migrant Healthcare Workers (Part II of II)

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Part II of this blog series focusing on the HCM Challenges of Migrant Healthcare Workers looks more deeply at the HR technology opportunities and challenges that surround this critical topic. I encourage readers to check out Part I ↗️ as well as other Azilen thought leadership content ↗️, especially if interested in gaining insights into a broad range of HR/HCM topics and related HR technology considerations.

I believe you’ll find the content interesting and perhaps also quite valuable to your organization. Part I provided considerable depth and background on the topic at hand and included many industry stats and data points pertaining to the journey of migrant healthcare workers that come to the U.S. for employment opportunities.

Of note, when this topic is covered, typically it is countries in Asia and Africa that tend to get more attention than those in other parts of the world. This is simply because these areas have historically been known for placing more emphasis on credentialing and certifications, a key facet of employing migrant healthcare workers. It therefore follows that healthcare workers originating elsewhere can experience even more challenges in the employment process and the transition overall.

Challenges and opportunities can be seen as two sides of the same coin. Even though they are usually viewed as very different in nature, they are in fact correlated as well. This is because challenges can often create corresponding opportunities, which is especially true for people or organizations that are more adept at navigating through the challenges … either by leveraging their own skills and capabilities, or by procuring and bringing to bear external expertise to achieve the same ends.

In that context, let’s focus on what I view as distinct HR technology-related opportunities for healthcare organizations seeking to address what seems to be ever-increasing skills and staffing shortages (e.g., by tapping into relevant talent from outside the U.S. when available). I see these opportunities primarily in two areas:

  • The system integration arena
  • The effective on-boarding of new hires

For context, we know that recruitment and other HR/HCM data is often stored across multiple if not disparate technology platforms. Sub-optimally (or worse, poorly) integrated recruiting-related systems and tools, for example, can easily have the effect of elongating end-to-end processes as well as adding complexity, both of which are usually accompanied by added risk and cost. Impacted activities might include job posting, candidate sourcing, screening, interview scheduling, offer management, background checking and ultimately, new employee on-boarding – an opportunity area I will come to shortly.

And when it takes longer to fill key jobs in any industry, there can be many negative impacts to the organization and those it serves. These circumstances get even more problematic in the healthcare sector given the potential effects on patient care or possible liabilities related to regulatory compliance and other possible mistakes …. All of which can lead to reputation damage for the providers’ brand, and poor patient outcomes.

Moreover, delays in hiring much needed staff place a strain on existing staff which can also result in poor healthcare delivery in addition to a range of HR/HCM problems, from lower employee engagement and productivity to higher (and therefore costly) employee turnover.

Conversely, when systems integrations are handled well (e.g., by proven, expert IT staff), not only are many of the potential issues above often averted, but organizations can also gain key insights about recruiting and hiring trends and best practices which can translate into competitive advantage. With well-integrated HR tech, alternative strategies, actions, and decisions just become easier to assess and the best actions can be taken more often.

Better integrated systems will almost always contribute to having more reliable data and reporting from which decisions are made and actions taken. Again, in the world in which healthcare organizations operate, these benefits cannot be overstated. Also, with better integrated systems and technology tools, workflows (e.g., reviews and approvals) will also get accelerated, further enabling better hiring and greater productivity in HR and recruiting staff.

And in the context of HR departments in healthcare striving to mitigate some of the realities highlighted here, those falling outside the realm of better system and process integration, the many activities (and opportunities) related to new employee onboarding should take center stage. This is especially true given the many additional challenges faced by those moving from far away, often leaving families and/or comfortable surroundings behind, and even though properly credentialed and skilled, multi-lingual, hard-working, etc.

Sadly, the employee onboarding process has, through the decades, mostly connoted getting on payroll, enrolling in benefits if eligible, and completing all necessary compliance-related forms. A more modern view of onboarding, however, is centered around the new hire experiencing the essence (including the many positive aspects) of what their new job/role, team, career and development pathways, and organizational culture are all about. This can no doubt be facilitated and enabled by leveraging fit-for-purpose HR technology for example. And “experiencing the essence” of anything should perhaps be seen as an “immersive experience.”

When this immersion is done right, the new employee is more prepared to navigate early challenges on the job by socially connecting with those who can offer various forms of support. Additionally, any ambiguity or confusion about policies, processes and practices that often plague a new worker are largely neutralized with a very positive, technology-enabled onboarding experience.

There is a wide range of HCM systems capabilities that have been shown to directly support the more evolved vision of onboarding being painted here. Here is a sampling of just three:

A module or knowledge / content hub where all onboarding activities and resources are gathered in one place, showing the job-related but also learning and development related tasks and activities to focus on during the first 30/60/90 days, suggesting people to meet, connecting new employees with colleagues in similar roles, providing the most relevant and timely company information, etc.

Automated process workflows such as where a brief set of questions is forwarded to the new employee’s manager the Friday before they start, serving to compile the type of information highlighted above so it can then be shared with the new employee on Day 1. This simple workflow automation can make such a difference, not only in productivity (or time-to-productivity) but in reducing “first 30 or 60-day” voluntary terminations – and their very disruptive effects.

And as a significant emphasis must always be on ensuring a high level of both employee engagement and productivity, continuous learning opportunities play a major role in the onboarding experience and throughout the entire employee journey. These must be supported by very easily navigated menus if not virtual agents. Experiences must be automatically and effortlessly “served up” based on the HCM technology’s ever-increasing set of insights into what the employee needs to function at the highest level.

Conclusion: Two Key Recommendations

Given the plethora of challenges and opportunities related to migrant healthcare workers that were highlighted in parts I and II of this blog series, allow me to offer two quick recommendations you may find worthy of consideration:

Healthcare industry employers must start by recognizing that the journey of the migrant healthcare worker or job candidate starts way before, perhaps 18-24 months before, they have started to engage with that individual. The process is long and arduous, so much so that a fair percentage of otherwise very talented healthcare workers might choose to abandon it. It is therefore imperative that best in class HR technology capabilities be leveraged to help scale the HR department in their efforts to be both administratively proactive – and also empathetic.

Finally, given all the priorities and projects an IT department might have on its plate in any industry, let alone one that is as dynamic and also understaffed as the healthcare vertical, decisions about which HR tech and adjacent software tools must truly be optimized. One of those decisions will often involve ensuring the most impactful and up-to-date tech skills are available at the right time so that systems investments deliver expected benefits and ROI. HR departments dealing with an influx of migrant healthcare workers are fairly taxed already. Their jobs can be made somewhat easier with the right systems and surrounding expertise.

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Steve Goldberg
Steve Goldberg
‪HR Process & Tech Leader | HCM Analyst/Advisor

Steve Goldberg's 30+ year career on all sides of HR process & technology includes HR exec roles on 3 continents, serving as HCM product strategy leader and spokesperson at PeopleSoft, and co-founding boutique Recruiting Tech and Change Management firms. Steve’s uniquely diverse perspectives have been leveraged by both HCM solution vendors and corporate HR teams, and in practice leader roles at Bersin and Ventana Research. He holds an MBA in HR, is widely published and is a feature speaker around the globe. He’s been recognized as a Top 100 HRTech Influencer. Steve is also a close advisor to Azilen Technologies, this post’s sponsor.

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