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Four Considerations for Implementing Workplace Flexibility: Part I

In the annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey, healthcare professionals cited overcoming IT staffing shortages as an ongoing significant challenge. Given these shortages and daunting competing projects, healthcare leaders need to modernize their workplace policies to retain and attract qualified professionals. The healthcare industry will only become more competitive for talent, vying for IT professionals who are cross-vendor skilled and quickly adaptable in value-based care environments. In part I of this two-part series, consider the following areas when implementing workplace flexibility policies to gain an edge.


  1. Remote work and staff retention. Remote work is becoming an increasingly attractive benefit for today's employees. A Gallup poll found that 37 percent of workers would like to work remotely at least some of the time. Remote work in the healthcare and health IT fields keeps the industry competitive with other professions for employees seeking to balance work and personal goals.

    In a Deloitte survey of almost 8,000 millennial employees (ages 23 to 34), 45 percent of those working in the "least flexible work environments" said they intended to leave within two years. Turnover significantly hinders an already short-staffed healthcare industry, and employers spend up to one-fifth of a departed employee's salary to hire and train a replacement. The financial loss is even more substantial when considering positions that require specialized training, which is especially pertinent in healthcare IT.

    Remote work can help retain valued employees while enabling savings on facility and project-outsourcing costs. For short-term IT projects like electronic health record (EHR) data conversion or legacy application support, remote work offers greater flexibility for support-shift coverage while providing proactive redundancies to protect against power, Internet, or central-facility outages.

  2. Flexible work hours. Schedule flexibility stands out as another attractive benefit in the modern workplace. Many employees credit flex hours with improvements in productivity, organizational performance, engagement, and personal well-being. Millennials are especially attracted to the freedom to decide when they start and stop work and, within certain guidelines, their daily job duties. Millennial employees feel almost three times as much personal accountability toward their organizations' reputation and service when they work in flexible environments.

    Flex scheduling supports the more experienced spectrum of today's leading workforce, too. By 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts, 36 percent of people within the 65- to 69-year-old demographic will remain active workers—up from just 22 percent in 1994. Many of these baby boomers want to keep working simply because they are passionate about their work or want to stay active, while 79 percent of the entire retiree population plans to remain in the workforce for pay.

    However, the issue for this highly qualified group of workers is having opportunities to utilize their skill sets beyond the traditional schedule. Stay tuned for part II's response to this.

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