Lakeland Health’s Journey with HR Analytics

Nowadays, you are hard pressed to go even one day without reading an article, hearing a conversation or thinking about the future of healthcare. What will it look like? Will our organization remain intact? Do we have the right people to drive our strategy? Is our culture one that supports transformation?  How will changes in reimbursement impact us?  All of these questions most likely move in and out of your mind constantly. At least they do in mine. Now the most important question is: What are we doing to understand and ensure our organization is prepared for the future?

We know that we are facing extreme pressure to provide better care at lower costs. Healthcare reimbursement is uncertain and there is great emphasis on achieving consistent, high quality and exceptional patient satisfaction like never before. We also know that the labor market is tightening and there is increased competition for talent.

The Importance of Analytics

During this time of uncertainty, talent analytics are critical in order to understand our current workforce and assess our readiness to meet current and future workforce challenges. To me, talent analytics provide an organization with workforce intelligence and insight for their leadership teams as they increase their capacity to lead from the future as it emerges.

Most healthcare organizations have a culture focused on patient satisfaction, quality metrics and financial benchmarking. Typically, workforce analytics are last to appear as a key priority. Does this mean that organizations do not believe their workforce is their most important asset? No. I believe that there hasn’t been the right climate or environment within the healthcare industry before now where organizations understand the true importance of investing in the systems, software and data mining for talent. Why? Hospitals have been like the Field of Dreams-if you build it, they will come. For decades the healthcare industry has been the ‘place to be’ the place to work and we had an overabundance of potential candidates.

What has changed? Our competitive landscape has changed, the demand for top talent (yes, top talent not just talent) has increased and it is a buyer’s market. Candidates have many choices available to them and various incentives to join organizations. Supply is going down on candidates and demand is going up. And when I speak of supply I am speaking of top talent. We have applicants for open positions; however, we no longer recruit talent we select the right fit. We understand the impact of hiring a top performer versus a warm body and our leaders understand that hiring is the most important decision they make. Why? Talent drives patient satisfaction, quality scores and how well we perform and what level of care we can provide to our community. Without talent we just have a strategy sitting on a shelf.

Where to Start

So let me go back to the notion of talent analytics. You have probably heard the saying that without data you are just another person with an opinion.  The same thing holds true for the function of Human Resources.  We are here with a focus of providing solutions, strategic support and guidance to our organization to effectively run the business. How do we do that without data? Without data we are only providing our opinion on what we ‘feel’ and what we ‘think’. To me, that is HR of yesterday. The role of HR today is to provide data, metrics and analytics that tell a story and provide insight for our leaders to understand the makeup of their workforce and to know where to focus for the future.

When I speak of the makeup of the workforce, I am referring to key information that would include the following:

  • Age
  • Of persons in key positions
    • Of persons in key positions
    • Of RN workforce
    • Of key providers
  • Demographics
  • Diversity
    • In key positions such as RN, providers, leadership, IT
    • A comparison of how the diversity of the workforce relates to the diversity of the patient population your organization serves
  • Percentage of BSN prepared RNs
  • Engagement
  • Labor compensation ratio
  • Vacancy rates for key positions
  • Average turnover
  • Average retention rate
  • Retirement eligibility
    • Within 1 year
    • Within 5 years
    • Within 10 years

If you need a starting point within your organization to understand how to develop a plan, refer to the American Hospital Association’s reference titled, Developing an Effective Health Care Workforce Planning Model.  This will provide you with a framework to understand how to create a plan as well as what data you need to begin to mine on a regular basis.

So when we look ahead to the future of healthcare we can either do so with trepidation or excitement. I firmly believe if you have the data and analytics to prepare your organization for the uncertainty that you will look ahead with excitement.

Lakeland Health’s Journey Begins

Within our organization we are preparing in a number of ways. We are assessing our current capacity within our HR team in order to assess our own readiness and competencies to data mine and analyze metrics. Over the past year we have been experimenting with a leadership dashboard to provide each unit within the healthcare system with quarterly metrics on their own workforce. This dashboard will be rolling out in the next few weeks and we know this is just the start. AND it is exciting to start! Why? We know that there is great value in providing our leaders with data at their fingertips and creating an awareness into their leader response times for open positions, engagement within their teams, their manager effectiveness, turnover, retention, injuries and illnesses.

We are also in the process of finalizing a workforce report which will provide an in depth look into our workforce, ongoing development and most importantly what our plan is over the next 3-5 years to prepare our organization for the future. This effort is a collaborative effort between HR, Training and Development and Physician Services.

For the last four years we have created an Annual Report with key accomplishments, insight into what is happening around Lakeland related to our workforce as well as key metrics to our Board of Directors. We have also provided data to our leaders when they have inquired. The change is that we are going to push the data out to our organization instead of leaders having to ‘pull’ or ask for it. We know that this shift is critical as we continue to increase awareness into the true importance of understanding our workforce, assessing key data on a regular basis and utilizing data to drive our people strategy.

Stay tuned for the next blog which will speak about how technology is hindering or helping prepare you for the future!


Lakeland Health has been rewarded for participation in this blog and is an active participant in the API Healthcare STAR client reference program that rewards clients for sharing their outcomes, expertise and opinions.

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