Where Are We Now? Workforce Management Trends in 2020

Remember the start of 2020 before COVID-19 disrupted all of our lives and the way we do business? Before phrases like “social distancing” had even been conceptualized. Before social media feeds filled up with videos on proper handwashing technique. Before the still somewhat perplexing stockpiling and subsequent shortage of toilet paper. A lot has changed in a matter of a few months, and for many, our day-to-day is still nothing like it was back in January. When it comes to workforce management, we need to think about the broader trends to help us continue to pave the way forward.

Back in January, DATIS was just releasing its 2020 State of Workforce Management Report. This report outlined how executives in the Health and Human Services industry were prioritizing their workforce management initiatives in 2020. Of course, this was all before we had any inkling of the disruption that was about to occur. Nevertheless, let’s take a brief look back at where we were.

The top three workforce management priorities reported by Health and Human Services executives in January 2020 were:

  1. Recruiting and Retention
  2. Ensuring Financial Sustainability
  3. Improving Operational Efficiency

Do any of these sound familiar and/or resonate with your own organization’s priorities, even now? They probably should. As we look back at what was reported as this year’s priorities pre-COVID and where we are currently, these workforce management initiatives didn’t simply go away or magically resolve themselves. Yes, we’ve probably changed the way we go about the recruiting process, and operations have almost certainly changed in drastic ways, but these are still important initiatives, COVID or not.

What we’ve seen is the enduring importance of workforce management trends no matter what disruption occurs around us. And while the “why” behind these workforce management initiatives endures, it’s the “how” of how we achieve these goals that’s changed substantially.

For example, the traditional recruiting process typically involves an online resume submission, a phone interview, and one or more in-person interviews. Now, with social distancing in place, we’re relying on new technologies like videoconferencing more than ever before. Ensuring financial sustainability has taken on a whole new meaning amidst a climate of economic uncertainty, but the focus on being able to keep the doors open in the long-term remains the same.

And then there’s operations.

Health and Human Services organizations offer some of the most personal services, relying heavily on the human connection and face-to-face interaction to provide meaningful and effective care to clients. COVID-19 has forced some rapid innovation and adaption in these operations, speeding us toward alternatives like telehealth and hybrid models that help ensure safety for frontline staff and clients alike.

As we look ahead to a post-COVID world, one thing is clear: the “new normal” will not simply be a return to the “old normal” from before COVID-19. Our workforce management priorities still stand true and can provide a guiding light in an uncertain future, but the way in which we address them has changed completely.

DATIS is currently conducting its mid-year follow up study focusing on workforce management strategies amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and the results will be coming out soon. If you’d like to ensure you receive a copy of our upcoming 2020 Executive Priorities Report, sign up to request a copy today.

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