Guest Column | September 11, 2018

Achieving Competitive Differentiation Through Workforce Diversity And The Role Technology Plays

By Danielle Miller, Infor


In this era of skilled shortages in healthcare, recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce is no easy task. Yet, it is one of the top priorities of results-oriented healthcare organizations today. Successful diversity programs yield impressive benefits—from greater patient satisfaction to improved outcomes and increased staff productivity. Fortunately, modern talent management technology can help overcome the hiring obstacles.

Defining The Issues

Today, minorities represent 32 percent of patients, but only 19 percent of frontline personnel and midlevel managers, and 11 percent of hospital executives, according to the American Hospital Association's Institute for Diversity in Health Management.

This underrepresentation of minorities in an organization’s workforce does not automatically result in inequality in patient care. Training programs can help build empathy and understanding of different cultures, overcoming unintentional bias. A recent benchmark report indicates that many hospitals are attempting to address the issues, with 79 percent of hospitals educating clinical staff during orientation on how to address unique cultural and linguistic factors, as well as offering continuing education on the topic.

However, statistics indicate efforts are falling short of the goal. Disparity in quality of care for minorities is a serious problem with disturbing results. Consider the following facts from the Health Professionals for Diversity Coalition:

  • The average wait time for African Americans needing kidney transplants is almost twice as long as that of white patients.
  • African-American women with breast cancer are 67 percent more likely to die from the disease than are white women.
  • The mortality rate for African-American infants is almost 2.5 times greater than it is for white infants.

While there are many statistics that paint a harrowing portrait of the current state of our healthcare system as it relates to diversity, a report from Health Professionals for Diversity Coalition also reveals some encouraging facts. For example, racial and ethnic minority patients are generally more satisfied with their care and are more likely to report receiving higher-quality care when treated by a health professional of their own racial or ethnic background.

Benefits Of Diversity

A diverse workforce offers many benefits, including higher employee engagement and higher levels of productivity, according to  the Association for Talent Development. ATD also suggests that a widely diverse organization tends to be more innovative, bringing a wider spectrum of ideas and new perspectives to problem-solving.

Diversity can even be a point of differentiation for attracting patients and new talent. Consumers today are more selective about healthcare options and insist on a positive, affirming patient experience.

Technology Supports Workforce Diversity

Scarcity of talent continues to be a major challenge for the healthcare industry. Criteria include unique areas of expertise, specialized skills, patient-facing interpersonal skills, as well as administrative abilities to support the procedural demands of a complex infrastructure. Whether radiology technicians, nursing staff, or admissions personnel, the ideal job candidates possess a combination of knowledge, skills, and empathy for patients. Such candidates are highly sought.

Utilizing a formal talent acquisition process will help identify candidates who are the right fit for an organization.

How HCM Solutions Help

Modern Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions help complex healthcare organizations manage the workforce related processes with greater ease and efficiency. By relying on data-driven insights, organizations can rid recruiters and other HR executives of unconscious biases; given that ethnically-diverse organizations are 35 percent more likely to outperform competition, adopting the right technology to aid in diversifying the workforce should be a priority.

These capabilities, such as data analytics, predictive analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) give managers added insights about ways to align personnel, their career goals, skills, and assigned roles. The data helps managers make non-biased decisions based on performance and data collected scientifically, while also considering unique proficiencies and soft skills like empathy, conflict resolution, and team building. Here are three specific ways modern HCM solutions help build a diverse workforce:

Setting career paths. The use of proven talent assessment tools can identify the true “behavioral DNA” of high-performing and engaged employees. Using predictive analytics, performance profiles of outstanding employees give managers clear insights to ensure they hire candidates with similar qualities. This data can also make successful matches between individual work preferences and patient care needs, as well as indicate if a candidate is better suited to another job within the organization.

Optimize learning. Once hired, work should immediately begin to make sure the employee is engaged and productive. Enhanced onboarding allows employees to easily complete new hire paperwork, take virtual “tours” of the organization, and access and track professional training modules—all well before their first day on the job. The system makes this information is readily accessible and can used to track ongoing certifications and reveal any areas for future professional development.

Improve HR Productivity. Data-driven technology will simplify and speed the hiring process, increasing on-the-job productivity of the Human Capital Management team. Advanced solutions will automate the hire-to-retire (and even rehire) processes for both employees and managers. Each candidate’s resume and credentials are uploaded into the system once, and can even be pulled directly from LinkedIn.

Deploying a modern HCM solution will help healthcare organizations meet hiring goals and build a diverse workforce. This can become an important differentiator for the organization as it faces a shortage of skilled candidates. Building and supporting an inclusive workforce will help the healthcare company build brand recognition around diversity and inclusion.

About The Author

Danielle Miller, Ph.D.(c) MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM is Chief Nursing Officer, Clinical Applications at Infor. Danielle has a demonstrated history of healthcare subject matter expertise working in the computer software industry. Skilled in Healthcare Management, Hospital operations, Patient experience, Customer Service, Nursing Education, and Board certified in Obstetrics. Holds a BSN and MSN and entering the dissertation phase of her Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) focused in Nursing Education from Capella University.