Business Practice: Integrating Workforce Investments with Operations

Importance of Integrated Investments

Employers who invest in their frontline workers see results. Integrating organizational strategy, workforce investments, and impact measurement is a business strategy that can make an organization more competitive and successful. To maximize the impact of your workforce investments, you should integrate or align our workforce strategy with key organizational procedures and metrics. For example, identify the key personnel metrics such as retention, engagement and performance of employees to compare the quality of an internally developed employees against an employee trained outside of your organization. By identifying the impact of your workforce programs on key metrics for your organization, you will be better able to improve program design to increase desired outcomes and/or justify workforce investments as a business imperative.

What Successful Integration Looks Like: 

A community health clinic in a low-income neighborhood expands its emphasis on health promotion and chronic disease management. Clinic managers feel that medical assistants can play an expanded role on the care team to increase patients’ adherence to their care plans and participation in new prevention programs.

Since many of the MAs lack certification and the necessary skills, the clinic decides to invest in developing a competency-based training program to standardize skills and begin building a career pathway.

The clinic works with the local community college to develop coursework in topics such as motivational interviewing and to deliver onsite instruction; it provide release time for workers to attend classes and prepare for certification. Organizational champions encourage participation and communicate the value of the program not only to the MAs but also to the team members and patients. The planned impact analysis focuses on employee engagement and quality-of-care measures. Data is collected before, during, and after training. Program completion rates are high.

Nurse managers and physicians support staff as they transition into their newly expanded roles. The process is not as smooth as clinic managers expected, but they continue to improve it, in part, because the effort is closely tied to the organization’s mission. Over time, as the MAs begin to function a higher level, the impact on patient visits and adherence to care plans starts to measurable. More MAs start to work toward becoming health coaches as part of their newly defined career pathway, with the goal of earning a higher wage. Ultimately employee engagement rises, quality of care improves, and the organizations better understand the value of its investment.

How to Implement this Practice

Effective integration requires the identification of key organizational metrics and the alignment of those metrics in your program design and evaluation. As explained above, success or failure of the program should be clear based on program results. This information is critical for identifying areas of improvement in your workforce programs as well as justifying the investment.

The following continuum of integrate details how an organization can have low, medium or high integration of workforce investments and key business metrics.

Continuum of Integration

With thoughtful planning, organizations can move from isolated strategies to a fully integrated approach to use skilled staff to provide high-quality care and great service.

 Download Resource- A Framework for Integrating Workforce Investments with Business Impact 

Learn from Leaders: Norton Healthcare &

Norton Healthcare, Louisville, KY

Norton Healthcare in Louisville, KY is a leader in developing its workforce, because it frames all workforce investments as mission critical and essential for effective operations. Investing over $11 million a year in staff education and development,
Norton’s transformational approach to workforce development integrates their strategic priorities with programs based on assessment and forecasts of staffing needs, data analysis, internal and external partnerships, and quantifiable measures of the impact their investments have on their business. As explained below, leaders of the organization see a highly-skill workforce as the center of the business strategy.

Business Impact of Integration

Norton Healthcare is a data-driven organization and uses a comprehensive system that tracks staffing levels, retention and turnover rates, key competencies and employees’ educational plans in order to understand the organization’s current and future workforce needs. The tool informs all staffing and investment decisions and helps Norton target high-demand positions and encourage employees to pursue high-growth opportunities.

“Data from Workforce Analytics empowers Norton’s decision makers by proactively shedding light on potential critical talent needs.”

– Jackie Beard, System Director of Talent Acquisition and Workforce Development

This proactive data use has helped Norton Healthcare lengthen its average retention, lower its turnover rates and promote employees involved in development programs.