Healthcare facilities managers have a new charter: Creating an exceptional employee experience

Trends driving the evolving role of facilities managers as strategic experience design leaders

By John Anderson / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today

There was a time when the healthcare facilities manager was primarily the go-to person for problems with the HVAC system, a leaky roof or crumbling parking lot pavement. While that still remains the case, the facilities manager role has become so much more. The dynamics of the current healthcare environment have transformed the way that the facilities manager works and plans for the future, with increasing pressure to curb rising costs, anticipate tomorrow’s demands, and create an exceptional experience for employees and others.

Today’s healthcare facilities manager is poised as a strategic business leader, sitting with operational leadership to devise strategies that impact the bottom line through streamlined costs and maximized healthcare real estate. With both clinical and administrative square footage to manage, the facilities manager makes decisions that have considerable impact financially. Increasingly, the facilities manager is also a strategic experience design leader, helping to create employee workspace experiences that help attract and retain the best talent, improve productivity, and enhance employee satisfaction and well-being.

Following are three key trends that are emerging as innovative facilities managers increasingly assume the role of strategic experience design leaders:

Growing emphasis on the employee experience

The ongoing healthcare workforce shortage has created a highly competitive environment for recruitment. Increasingly, prospective employees select employers based on more personal, “softer” criteria such as authenticity, alignment, life-work balance and perceived employee value. Workers demand their healthcare employment experience to be similar to their consumer experiences. They want and expect their work environment to leverage the latest in workspace design, technology and collaboration. And it’s well worth the effort of facilities managers to accommodate these expectations. Healthcare leaders known for delivering high-value employee experiences can attract a larger pool of qualified applicants.

Part of increasing employee satisfaction includes ensuring that employees have what they need to do their work quickly and effectively. The facilities manager can make it easy for employees by providing maps where they can find rooms and department locations, as well as self-service technology to book the spaces and resources they need from mobile devices or laptops. And, for visiting healthcare professionals, facilities managers can provide technology that allows them to check in or print badges in advance or when they arrive.

The more modern, collaborative and productive the employee experience is, the more likely that the employee will be satisfied. And the more employees that are satisfied ambassadors of a healthcare brand, the better the patient experience, the more positive the public perception, and the more likely these employees will stay with their employer year after year.

Stronger collaboration among HR, facilities managers

Facilities managers and HR are increasingly working together as the competitive environment for recruitment is leading to a greater emphasis on the employee experience. There is another trend that they are focusing on as well: the need for maximized productivity on the clinical and administrative level, driven by the rise of patient-centered healthcare.

As they strive to accomplish both of these goals, facilities managers and HR are increasingly collaborating with the tech department. More healthcare institutions are relying on innovation to help them develop an empowered, collaborative and productive workforce, and we expect to see facilities management, HR and IT collaboration to accelerate in the near future.

Increased focus on agile working approaches to support the new realities of healthcare facilities

There are more mobile healthcare workers today than ever before. And, it is not just clinical teams visiting patients in their homes, adult day care programs, or other community settings. Increasingly administrative employees are working remotely, in satellite facilities or in their homes. As healthcare facilities encourage agile working – empowering people to work where, when and how they choose - they are beginning to realize significant operational and financial benefits such as cost savings and improved sustainability, better utilization of space, higher levels of retention, expanded applicant pools, and more. Employees benefit, too: shorter, more flexible commutes, increased productivity, and improved well-being.

One way institutions are adopting to employees working from multiple settings is by offering hot-desking or hoteling, which enables employees to sign up for the workspace on an as-needed basis rather than assigning a 1:1 employee/desk ratio. In addition to accommodating employees who are spending time working in different locations, hot-desking addresses limited space issues and reduces real estate costs. Another agile approach healthcare facilities are taking is activity-based working (ABW), which enables healthcare personnel to sign up for the appropriate space they need to accomplish a specific task at hand, whether it is independent, collaborative or consultative. To accommodate this, the facilities manager may set aside quiet areas for clinical or administrative work, conference areas for conversations, private phone booths, lounge seating areas for family consultation, and more.

The need to design facilities that elevate the employee experience, and reduce real estate requirements and costs are changing the role of the facilities manager. Continuous learning about the evolving needs and work practices of today’s empowered, mobile employee, and mapping those needs against facility plans and technology innovations, will make the facilities manager not only a strategic experience design leader, but also a valued business leader in the healthcare institution. 

 John Anderson is the CEO of Smartway2




March 27, 2020

Topic Area: Maintenance and Operations

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