In 2022, there is little doubt in the minds of healthcare leaders that building organizational resilience is key to the success of the healthcare system as a whole. However, with the mounting challenges of labour shortages facing healthcare organizations, developing resilience within your team is easier said than done.

According to Tresha Moreland, healthcare HR expert and author of Navigating the Healthcare Workforce Shortage: How to Safeguard Your Organization's Most Important Asset, there are ten steps you can take into consideration once you’ve decided to make resilience a priority in your organization.

Here’s a brief overview of her framework

1) Learn how to model self-care

It’s difficult for an organization to function when its leaders aren’t functioning. All too often, we exclude leaders from the conversations about burnout in the healthcare industry, and yet they are, unsurprisingly, not immune to the increasing pressures of staff shortages, crisis management and constant changes in policies and protocols.

As a leader, the single most important thing you can do to improve the resiliency of your team is to first improve your own resiliency. Look within, acknowledge your own needs, and prioritize meeting them. This might mean taking time off, setting clear boundaries at work, eating well and staying active, and making time to pursue hobbies outside of work.

Your staff and team members notice when you are taking good care of yourself the same way they notice when you’re burnt out—modelling self-care and healthy boundaries can go a long way towards encouraging your team to do the same.

2) Hire with purpose, not for convenience

One of the biggest mistakes a healthcare leader can make—especially during a time of unprecedented staff shortages—is hiring out of convenience.

In an ideal world, we would have a large pool of qualified candidates to select from for any given position, and would be able to make decisions based on how well an individual aligned with the values and mission of our organization. While labour shortages make this type of nuanced hiring practice challenging, it is crucial to the health and resilience of your team that you prioritize bringing on people who match the attitude, values and culture you want your team to exhibit.

This goes for onboarding new leaders as well. There’s nothing worse than a leader who preaches the values and mission of the organization while acting in a way that is completely contradictory to their own talking points. Finding (and embodying) leadership that truly aligns with your organization will help advance a healthy and safe culture for your team.

3) Develop authentic relationships

Relationships are key to a successful healthcare organization. Not only is it important to foster healthy relationships within your team, but creating meaningful connections with patients/clients, community groups, political officials and other healthcare organizations will grow a sense of trust in your organization that is felt by individuals and the community as a whole.

4) Communicate strategically and effectively

While this step may seem second-nature for healthcare professionals, it’s not unusual for leaders and teams to let communication slide down the priority list during high-stress situations.

Your team members want to feel heard, informed and included, even when that means delivering bad news. Ensuring people in your organization are kept updated and given opportunities to offer opinions, concerns and ideas can positively impact your retention numbers, all while building a healthy workplace culture.

5) Invest in leadership development at all levels

Most healthcare organizations have some programming in place to help their leadership team further develop their skills. While that’s a great way to improve the organization’s culture and operations today, it doesn’t necessarily position the organization for success in the future.

Investing in the development of team members who are not currently in leadership roles is one of the most powerful forms of succession planning. Especially during times of high turnover and resignation rates, it’s critical that team members in junior and frontline positions are given opportunities to develop the skills needed to lead if they need and want to in the future

6) Invest in adaptable technology platforms

When considering which software, systems and platforms to use within your organization, forward-thinking is crucial. While more suitable technology may cost more initially, you will save the time, frustration and money you would have spent later when the solution you chose can’t keep up with the rapidly changing needs of your organization.

7) Refresh your emergency management training and plans

Every healthcare organization has an emergency management plan in place. It’s a part of what we do. 

But ask yourself: how did your plan function during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If there is room for improvement, now is the time to revisit it. Debrief with your team and revise your training programs and plans accordingly.

8) Re-evaluate your financial stewardship

How has your organization’s financial health held up over the past few years? Are resources being used effectively and efficiently? Do you have alerts set up to draw attention to potential issues and help you foresee future challenges?

Maintaining a strong financial structure creates a solid foundation for you, your team and your organization.

9) Maintain a safe and high-quality level of service

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare leaders are facing an increasing number of challenges in fulfilling their primary purpose: to provide the highest possible level of care to patients and clients.

Especially challenging is the population’s changing perception of what safety and quality in healthcare actually means. It’s important to re-evaluate our practices and policies to determine whether they’re still serving the needs of patients, clients and other stakeholders.

10) Create a culture of innovation and creativity

If all goes well with steps one through nine, ideally this one will fall into place naturally. 

When team members feel empowered to share ideas, solve problems themselves and step outside traditional solutions where appropriate, organizations will continue to thrive during turbulent times. As we have seen, adaptability is key when the unexpected happens, and organizations that encourage innovation and creativity will likely have an easier time adapting their team’s approach.

Learn more about building resilience with Tresha Moreland

We recently had the privilege of hosting Tresha Moreland, a 30-year experienced HR leader in healthcare who specializes in strategic planning, workforce planning, and employee engagement, on our Central Line: Leadership in Healthcare podcast. In this episode, she shares that it’s never too late to start again and build a resilient organization and goes into more detail on the 10 steps above.

Listen now