2021: The Year of HR
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2021: The Year of HR

By Nas Panwar on March 1, 2021

In an industry whose primary mission is to care for people, it is the role of HR Leaders and their teams to support frontline workers (amongst others), to enable them to care for patients and to provide an amazing patient experience.

In the midst of a global pandemic, which has put immense pressure on hospitals and health systems, HR is being challenged daily, not just with being an essential service, but with a suddenly hybrid workforce with large numbers of employees working remotely in an industry that has traditionally had few employees working outside of the facilities.

When you layer on the second pandemic of racial inequality and injustice, woven through the black, brown, indigenous and immigrant communities being disproportionately affected by Covid-19, and the horrific murder of George Floyd, HR Leaders are facing a crisis point with their employees.

“This is the year of HR” is a statement I have heard often, and it is no surprise. As hospital and health system leaders continue to navigate the Covid-19 and social injustice crises, HR Executives in particular have a unique opportunity at this time to become the focal point for rebuilding trust, engagement, and culture within health systems, which will be critical to the long-term sustainability and survival of their organizations.

With this mission in mind, hospital and health system executives gathered virtually from February 23rd – 25th, 2021, to exchange ideas and initiatives, to share problems and perspectives, and to seek solutions and solidarity.

Healthcare HR Institute floor plan on the Remo platform

Some highlights included a much-anticipated Keynote Address, which explored:

  • The growing phenomenon of crisis fatigue and what it means for HR Leaders and their teams;
  • The latest data and research on resilience and engagement as a way to reduce crisis fatigue; and
  • Ways that HR leaders can help navigate their teams through these challenging times.

We also had a unique opportunity to enjoy a lively discussion amongst CHROs from a large Integrated Health System, a small, Independent Hospital, and an Academic Medical Center, facilitated by a former CEO from a Children’s Hospital, who all brought their specific perspectives to questions around:

  • How are organizations managing a multigenerational workforce?
  • How can HR best influence C-suite decisions?
  • How should healthcare organizations prepare for a digital future and what role should HR play?

During a critical conversation focused on DE&I, three health system CDOs outlined:

  • The most critical structure needed to support DEI success within an organization;
  • How to build the business case for DEI as an organizational strategic imperative;
  • Crafting your messaging around the importance of DEI, especially to those that don’t see its value;
  • Analyzing data through a DEI lens; and
  • The difference between authentic vs. performative allyship.

A panel discussion on the Remo platform

The event closed with a panel that both looked back to consider the challenges of the past year, and looked forward to leverage the opportunities that the crisis created.  As their key learnings, panelists shared that they:

  • Saw an increase in collaboration, a greater awareness of stakeholders’ needs, and an enhanced ability to deliver really quickly;
  • More fully embraced agility, being willing to fail fast and learn, and the notion of ‘speed before perfection’

As one panelist lamented that it took a global pandemic and a public and horrific murder to push boundaries and change thinking, another concluded that Covid-19 has elevated the strategic position of HR, and that the time was ripe to more fully develop HR as a world-class function to build trust, credibility and partnership.

It was a positive and inspirational end to a terrific three days of learning, information exchange, networking and connection.

Our sincere thanks to the 2021 Virtual Healthcare HR Management Institute Advisory Committee, Speaker Faculty, Service Provider Partners and Attendees who made this event possible and a true success!

We are cautiously optimistic that the Fall will bring us back to an in-person setting in some form; with that in mind, if you would like to join the conversation and engage with forward-thinking hospital and health system HR Leaders at the next Healthcare HR Management Institute, please contact Jennifer Holmes at jholmes@ipmionline.com.


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2021: The Year of HR
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