C-suite guide to workforce management in the care sector

Interview with Jarrod McGrath

Show Transcript

Dave Kenyon: Welcome, everyone, to Workforce Insights powered by RITEQ. My name is Dave Kenyon. This is where we talk to the world’s most successful and innovative workforce leaders. Today, we are getting a C-suite guide to workforce management in the care sector, and I’m speaking to workforce management thought leader and author of The Digital Workforce: The 5-Step Methodology to a Smarter Workforce, Jarrod McGrath. Welcome, Jarrod.

Jarrod McGrath: G’day, Dave. Thanks for having us. Pleasure to be here.

Dave Kenyon: Terrific to have you along. Do you want to start off by telling us what workforce management trends are you seeing in the care sector at the moment in Australia and the UK?

Jarrod McGrath: Sure. I’d probably break it down into one main area and that is to increase the quality of care for patients. That’s broadly what I’m seeing most care organizations focusing on at the moment, and I’m really seeing that unfold through four different areas from a workforce management perspective. I’m seeing it from a visibility point of view. Improving visibility so that forecasting and decision-making can be done better, particularly around the people. I’m seeing a strong desire to increase the experience. That’s both for the patient and for the carer. I’m seeing a lot of desire to enable the flexibility of the workforce to be increased, and I’m seeing a continual need for strong compliance. So, making sure that people get paid correctly. If you sort of break that down, it’s looking at things like better rostering practices, making sure that the payments are accurate, and enabling your carers to do things like shift bedding via a mobile telephone, for example.

Dave Kenyon: Fantastic. Now, what are some of the key challenges for the sector at the moment?

Jarrod McGrath: Sure. There’s always a lot of challenges and cost pressure is still, I think, number one. There’s always a need to be very mindful of the costs and making sure that you manage those correctly. There’s still a lot of care providers out there that have a lot of paper and it’s removing that paper and turning that into a digital operating model. Lot of lack of automation. So, getting systems talking to each other and making processes more efficient. Again, getting the systems streamlined so that manual intervention is removed. Inconsistency in the way processes are done across the different facilities within hospitals and so on. And then, ultimately, changing business models, and if you look in Australia at the moment, there is the introduction of the NDIS and that ultimately changes the way in which carers and funding models actually work and get accounted for.

Dave Kenyon: Yeah, terrific. One of the things that’s sort of affecting the UK as well, just in that care sector is … and other sectors … is the increase in national living wage, which sort of put more cost pressures right throughout the industry.

Jarrod McGrath: Yeah, it sure does. It’s all about being as efficient and as effective as we can be, while ultimately lowering costs, but ultimately raising up that quality of care by making all the processes work in a much more streamlined way.

Dave Kenyon: Absolutely. Speaking of which, my next question was how can the C-suite of large care homes of the care sector improve that efficiency yet have that engaged workforce in the digital age?

Jarrod McGrath: I think the answer to this question really comes down to two key areas. One is by simplification. Removing all of the noise out of the processes that exist and making the processes actually deliver better outcomes. If you look at workforce management, for example, what you’re really wanting to do is you’re wanting to align that demand of your patients in your facilities to the carers that are actually there. So, you wanna make that process as simplified as you can. Ultimately, technology underpins a lot of this because you actually need to provide tools to simplify these processes.

Jarrod McGrath: If I’m a nurse, for example, I’m looking to use your mobile phones to do things like get notifications of when I’m rostered to work. I want to be able to do things like set my availability. I want to be able to do things like be able to try and swap a shift with someone so I can have something done in my personal life. Maybe go to my children’s school, or something like that, in the afternoon. For a nursing unit manager, for example, it’s about having visibility of who’s on the shift. What is the cost of those carers on the shift? Can I do things to better align the carers on the shift so that I can maybe reduce some overtime, which will ultimately reduce some costs? I think really it just comes down to simplifying the processes and putting tools in place to enable this.

Dave Kenyon: Yeah, you certainly picked up on things that we’re seeing at RITEQ in terms of our customer base that there’s increase demands of flexibility that’s necessary that the workforce is demanding now. But, also, there’s increased demands on the patients’ side, which, again, leads me to my next question is what impact will this have on the recipients of care?

Jarrod McGrath: Yeah, so if you pick up on the patient, everyone these days wants personalized service. Everyone wants to feel like they’re at the epicenter, and in no more important industry than health that is so important because you’re talking about one’s welfare. Overall, the drive is to actually increase the quality of care and just take out all of the redundancy, all of the noise, all of the manual processes, and that will ultimately lead to more engagement and that’s really the biggest impact. You’re really trying to make the patient’s life better and you’re ultimately trying to make the care worker’s life better, and if you can bring both those things together and look at the benefits to the business side of things, i.e. the cost side of things, then it’s a win-win-win for everyone.

Dave Kenyon: Yeah, absolutely. If you’ve got a happier workforce and they’ve got happy customers because the workforce is great, there’s just gonna be natural productivity, I think.

Jarrod McGrath: Yeah, absolutely.

Dave Kenyon: Did you want to step us through your 5-step methodology of your book? And I’m going to hold it up in the screen there, and just for listeners, it’s the 5-Step Methodology for Smarter Workforce Management.

Jarrod McGrath: Sure. And really the basis of the book is it’s written through the eyes of a customer. The technology implementation is absolutely critical, and without a successful technology implementation, you won’t achieve the benefits that you look to achieve, but what I did was when I wrote the book, I unpacked it from the eyes of a customer and there’s really five phases when you look at it through the eyes of the customer. There’s the alignment phase. What are we trying to achieve in our business? What outcomes are we looking for? Is it to minimize the costs of overtime or is to increase the throughput of the patients? Or whatever it happens to be, it’s important to understand what those business benefits are and ultimately aligning those to the strategy, to the corporate strategy, and then taking those and then getting your business ready for that journey, that transformation that’s actually going to take place in your care facility.

Jarrod McGrath: Are we going to change the way in which we roster the nurses on the wards? Are we fundamentally going to change our rostering practices? Are we going to implement centralized rostering or decentralized rostering? These are all really important questions that care facilities are asking. The methodology is designed to help the care facilities on that journey through that decision-making process, and these decisions are all decisions that really need to be made before you get to the technology implementation so that when the consultants come and ask you how your business is going to work, you can actually have the answers and it will remove a lot of confusion, and sometimes a lot of wasted time.

Jarrod McGrath: Then, ultimately, it’s how do you make sure that the implementation is done correctly, governed correctly, and ultimately how do I receive the business benefits? That’s really the core of the book and it’s really designed through the eyes of a customer.

Dave Kenyon: And I also really loved the section on AI, which was very interesting, with Matt Michalewicz, I believe you pronounce his name.

Jarrod McGrath: Yeah, correct. Yeah.

Dave Kenyon: It talked about the impact that it’s going to be on the workforce or it already is happening. Speaking of which, so how could organizations be measuring the value of their workforce they’re getting and from their workforce management systems?

Jarrod McGrath: I think, ultimately, you set up your measurements at the front end of any initiative that you’re going to do and it’s really … as a care facility, what are you trying to achieve? And then really where the rubber hits the road, it’s putting metrics in place so that you know what those metrics and measures are right from the front. The types of things that you’re looking at are productive versus non-productive time, reduced absenteeism, planned roster to actual roster. You want to try and be as accurate as you can in your rostering. You might be trying to minimize overtime.

Jarrod McGrath: With the NDIS and the home care time services, you might be trying to minimize the amount of kilometers travelled between one person that needs care and another person that needs care. But, ultimately, it all comes down to the metrics that you put in place and the measures that you actually put on them, the tangible measures that you actually put on them.

Dave Kenyon: Terrific. Absolutely. All right. And can you comment on how organizations in healthcare can prepare for the workforce of the future?

Jarrod McGrath: Yeah. I think there’s really three key things from my perspective. Number one is to have a strategy and make sure that that strategy is well understood from the senior executive, ultimately, right down to those that are working in the wards of the care facilities and making sure that there’s a story that goes with that. Everyone knows what’s in it for them, and then having a roadmap as the third thing so that everyone knows how those benefits are going to be achieved and the process to achieve those benefits.

Jarrod McGrath: And then, at a more granular level, what I see over and over, and especially in health is that there is so much inconsistency in data and multiple sources of data. What is a source of a patient record, for example? Which systems? Am I recording skills in one system, two systems, three systems? Organizations now, and especially back to what we were talking about with AI and automation, clean data is absolutely paramount to the workforce of the future, and making sure that the decisions that are being made are actually made off correct data.

Dave Kenyon: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for your time, Jarrod. Now, how do I get a copy of The Digital Workforce?

Jarrod McGrath: Sure. So, it’s quite straightforward. Go to my company website, smartwfm.com and then go /digital workforce, and all the information about the book and the purchase information can be found there, Dave.

Dave Kenyon: Terrific. Well, Jarrod, once again, thanks very much for your time. I’m sure this is going to be very helpful for the UK and Australia and I just want to say thanks again.

Jarrod McGrath: Oh, that’s my pleasure. Happy to share some knowledge and I hope that the listeners have got a few pieces of actionable insight that they can take away. Thank you.

Dave Kenyon: Thanks very much. Bye.

Jarrod McGrath: Cheers, Dave.

About Jarrod McGrath

Jarrod has dedicated most of his professional working career to driving people efficiencies in business. Jarrod is the founder of Smart WFM, an advisory and implementation consultancy dedicated to providing people-related business improvement through a customer-centric lens. Jarrod has recently published his first book, The Digital Workforce. This book is a first of its type globally as it focuses on the business impacts of moving to a digital workforce along with defining a 5 step method for you to transform and adopt your digital workforce initiatives. Jarrod is a regular blogger and public speaker on WFM. Jarrod can be contacted on +61 2 8379 1292 or speaking@smartwfm.com.

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