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HRM Essay on Attracting and Retaining staff in Healthcare Industry


Task: You will write an essay on the key challenges in attracting and retaining a workforce in Australia in your selected sector (one sector from a choice of construction, health or retail). Your essay will draw on at least five themes from Week 1 to Week 11 of this unit, being those most relevant to your selected industry sector.

Your essay will draw on the academic literature (including the articles from ‘Reviewing the Literature’ you developed for Assessment 2), and develop an argument applying that literature to your selected sector.
You must cite at least ten (10) relevant peer reviewed journal articles, and 3 chapters from the Nankervis et al textbook. You can cite other academic references such as books, conference papers, and book chapters but these will NOT be counted as part of the 10 journal articles.


The healthcare services framework in Australia adheres to strict standards. The care plans are effectively synthesised and managed in the sector. As per experts the healthcare industry in the nation is expected to grow by 3.6% per annum (Isaacs, 2016). The increase in the ageing population as also the rise in chronic diseases is the rationale for the forecasted robust growth in the sector. Yet another reason for the predicted surge is the enhancements in the private health insurance facilities and coverage. Revenues will be gathered from the health benefits tendered to patients. The market size is currently 152 billion AUD. However there is a huge dearth of employees which can create critical issues in the functional framework. The study strives to understand the various underlying aspects of healthcare which can assure its growth in the nation. Also the factors which can thwart its progress and needs to be addressed through strategic methods are explored here.

Evolution of Human Resource Management
Healthcare organisations are reliant on the accessibility of three types of resources encompassing people, technology and finances. Workplaces especially in the case of healthcare are evolving at a rapid rate which requires the strategic management of human resources in the sector. Technological advancements and globalisation entails that human resources are regularly trained and updated with the latest tools in healthcare. The changing contract of employment is driven by three facets. These include legal (terms for working), social (mutual expectations from employers) and psychological (reciprocal relationship between subordinates and managers which covers rights and privileges). The employees in healthcare are protected by the Fair Works Act 2009. There are facilities for modern awards and minimum wages. Some of the healthcare companies provide employees with the opportunity to be absorbed among permanent staffs after working for a certain period of time. Incentives and grants are tendered to employees possessing some form of disability. Managers in healthcare have the additional responsibility to ascertain that nurses and administrative workers are satisfied with the job roles and compensation being provided to them. The studies reveal that administrative staffs possess diminished levels of engagement as compared to the nurses operating in the sector (Shantz, Alfes&Arevshatian, 2016). Hence there needs to be enhanced emphasis on the engagement of administrative staffs which can otherwise result in crucial operations and cures being delayed despite the high involvement of the nursing staff. There will also be a gap of 100,000 nurses in the sector by 2025 (Brunetto et al., 2019). Thus managers need to connect with their subordinates to ensure retention which is necessary for the sector. The vital part of contemporary human resource management is the psychological relationship between managers and subordinates. Employees in healthcare are engaged in work which is physically and mentally exhausting. Half of the workforce especially in the case of disability care is employed on part time basis (McKay &Shand, 2018). Managers in the domain are especially in a vulnerable position since the retention of part time employees are tough. This is also a sector which has limited opportunities for providing employees with work from home facilities a salient driver in the case of modern HRM practises. Managers are currently introducing the new models of patient care to ensure that employees especially nurses operating in the sector are not overstressed.Emergence of new and revised workforce responsibilities is gradually alleviating the various departments related to healthcare. Adaptation is a daunting challenge in the evolution of healthcare in Australia.

The context of human resource management
In the past few years there have been salient shifts in the paradigms of human resource management in Australia. These changes have been responsible for mitigating certain issues and intensifying the challenges in the healthcare sector of Australia. It can be inferred that in the global context the interconnectedness between nations have increased rapidly. The labour migration has been critical and will continue to be so in addressing the high demand in the professions of nursing and healthcare. The flexible employment of foreign nationals has contributed to the resilient growth in the industry. Hence the globalisation and foreign employment policies have been beneficial to the sector as well as the overall economy. The demographics of the nation demonstrate disparaging figures with an ageing population and tangible decline in the fertility rates (Cain et al., 2017). Managers in the healthcare are unable to combat this discrepancy despite recruitment from foreign countries. The ageing population is a paradox since it ensures a steady increase in the inflow of patients sustaining the sector. The lack of working population has rendered several industries weak especially in healthcare which requires intense physical labour and mental involvement. An ever-growing dearth of workers in case of child care, disability support and aged care is a crisis under which the sector is reeling. The government has introduced new models of work in retaliation which has not had any significant impact. Other significant factors in the context of HRM include the reduction in the quality of care provided to patients due to weak frameworks of vocational education (Cooke & Bartram, 2015).

One of the strongest aspects of the healthcare sector in the nation is the positions filled by women. Almost 80% of the nursing workforce is women (Chun Ti, Birks & Mills, 2018). The administrative positions are filled by 15% women. Despite this the sector faces significant challenges in the low pay rates tendered to women and the lack of opportunities to progress within the companies. Yet another identified weakness is the severe lack of work-life balance. The healthcare jobs in the nation make the flexible demands of the contemporary life tough to manage (Nankervis et al., 2016: Chapter 2). Healthcare managers need to design travel demands, commute issues and flexible schedules to ascertain that employees remain satisfied with their evolving job roles. Time offs are a vital component in the cases of caregivers and nurses. Job sharing and compressed work weeks must be incorporated in the work models to assure a healthy work life balance for caregivers. In the neo liberal political policies in the nation there is more emphasis on contractualism and voluntarism (Sood et al., 2018). The government needs to revise some policies in the healthcare industry which is resulting in high turnover of staffs. The society of Australia is rapidly changing leading to better skilled and more educated workforce. While this is a significant contributor the vocational educational courses require detailed attention. The skills in the vocational educational courses need to be linked with the gaps existing in healthcare. Enhanced legislation has improved the overall functionality of the industry.

Work design challenges in a global environment
The competency profiling according to the assimilated competencies is a vital challenge in the case of Australian healthcare. Emerging trends in the job design as well as the dynamic job environment mandates that employees are equipped with the necessary skills to tackle the operational requirements in the sector while also maintain world class standards. The healthcare industry in the nation is being flooded with new technologies in the form of cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Especially artificial intelligence has been rapidly introduced for repetitive jobs in the sector. Hence managers in the administrative levels are under a dual challenge. Job insecurity propounded by the introduction of robots need to be mitigated (Yu, Baird & Tung, 2018). Employees need to be trained for better operation of the fresh technologies. Remuneration management requires micro level analysis to ascertain differential pay. Also a clear identification of comparable worth needs to be assimilated design competitive compensation packages. The job analysis in healthcare and the compensation packages currently takes into account basic factors such as outcomes, skills and work hours. Job analysis further requires the assessment of complexity of the job, domain knowledge and the specific behavioural attributes related to healthcare. The equipment used and the effective training methods for the healthcare sector are other critical considerations. Studies have proven time and again that the work culture is imperative retaining staffs in healthcare (Herkes et al., 2019). The person fitting into and resonating with the internal values practised are critical in the industry. The culture is a salient aspect in the tendency of an employee to remain loyal to the occupation. Culture of healthcare organisations in Australia is striving to adapt to the changing work culture in the global environment. Australia possesses a highly developed healthcare sector. However the lack of linking between the job analysis and analysis of prevailing human resource are diminishing the quality of care rendered to patients. Discrepancies are humungous in the case of aged care and child care (Greenfield et al., 2019). The design challenges are thwarting the sector and the reduction in the child to carer ratio has exacerbated the present context.

The essential factor which is creating an obstacle in the designing of an effective work structure is the burnout existing in the sector. The work design is struggling to accomplish the perfect design since employees are trained and oriented according to the specific job in healthcare. In practise the jobs and respective responsibilities must be engineered according to the needs of the employees (Nankervis et al., 2016: Chapter 5). Working schedules must meet the lifestyle expectations of employees. Recruitment methods in the healthcare sector especially in cases of non-medical hires are not comprehensive. Safety and patient care are ignored during recruitment leading to poor management of medical staffs. Thus a detailed analysis depicts that a flexible work design method is required in the Australian healthcare sector.

Strategic Reward Management
Strategic reward management is of intrinsic importance in the terms of healthcare. Healthcare is a sensitive industry facing high levels of turnover which can only be tackled through strategic considerations while rewarding an employee. Australian healthcare industry has been generous in tendering appropriate rewards to employees. The identified weakness is the propensity to dispatch rewards which are not integrated with the internal desires of employees. A debate exists in the industry with respect to the secrecy versus transparency in the communication of the rewards management procedure to employees. Transparency is a desired aspect since it will be able to inspire employees toiling in the sector to perform better. Four elements of a reward method encompasses developmental, financial, intrinsic and social. The reward programs have till now concentrated on the financial factor focusing on the fringe benefits provided to employees. Reward management in the healthcare sector need to place emphasis on the intrinsic and developmental facets of the reward program. Developmental rewards comprisingof succession planning and career progress are steadfastly ignored leading to high levels of turnover in the sector (Kendrick et al., 2019). These gaps need to immediately address by the managers working in the healthcare industry of Australia. Intrinsic rewards management consists of task variety, autonomy of the tasks performed and the challenges of the job which can contribute to the learning curve of an employee. Intense medical supervision and lack of variety in the jobs makes it difficult for healthcare managers to accomplish intrinsic strategic rewards management. It can thus be seen that healthcare has a multifaceted workforce which is not liable to respond to the one size fits all approach (Jongen et al., 2019). Support in the execution of daily activities has been perceived to be a reward among the divergent workers of healthcare. Tangible rewards have a lesser importance in the industry as compared to the aspect of intangible rewards. For enhancements in the individual cooperation it is necessary for managers to align the career prospects of an employee with the future objectives of the organisation. Transparent and strategic reward management is crucial for fostering a work culture based on openness and trust. Managers in healthcare domain need to ensure that the intrinsic rewards provided to employees are actually successful in fulfilling their desires and expectations. The reward system in the healthcare sector is flawed in the sense that embedded competencies and qualities are seldom given the importance they actually deserve. Fulfilment of necessary targets is rewarded but the aspects of leadership, persistence, composure and problem solving under critical conditions are not measured. The assessment clearly depicts that the healthcare sector also need to focus on the finer contributions of an employee and not just the quantitative aspects of the tasks.

Talent retention and development
With high rate of turnover and the shortage of staffs in the healthcare industry in the nation talent development and retention requires extra focus. In this perspective the Australian healthcare industry has performed fairly well. In the case of development managers have synthesised a systematic approach to learning which equips medical professionals and caregivers for the necessary skills required to execute their responsibilities within a limited timeframe. Lifelong learning has been accepted as a vital component in the success of an organisation and the healthcare industry has oriented their activities accordingly (Nankervis et al., 2016: Chapter8). The training programs enunciate and impart quality skills and techniques leading to the formation of a highly developed sector. However the annual turnover and burnout associated with the profession presents discouraging figures. The annual rate of turnover in each ward was ascertained to be 15.1% in aggregate with 16.7% in the vicinity of Western Australia and 12.6% in New South Wales (Kendrick et al., 2019). Nurses record a high rate of turnover due to the shortage of skills and the high level of opportunities present in the sector. The Australian healthcare industry has taken into account the service driven nature of the sector (Wilkinson et al., 2019). The industry has demonstrated prudence by placing more emphasis on development rather than training. There is a difference since training entails a short term process which engages semi-formal processes for imparting basic skills and knowledge. This is in stark contrast to development which focuses on deeper and complex competencies reliant on training and mentoring. The crisis in the sector can only be addressed by effective methods concentrating on the development of employees.

There is also a lack of training in the performance of diagnostic tests in the healthcare industry. Future training programs need to address this integral gap. Also the finer aspects of the job including leadership and decision making skills are oftentimes ignored in training programs which are embedded in the development programs thus establishing their validity. Healthcare sector is taking critical steps to ensure staff retention by redesigning rewards and compensation packages. The impact is somewhat reduced as the activities are not evenly distributed. Uniform implementation can be the solution to high rate of turnover.

The healthcare industry can sustain the growth with the optimalutilisation of the existing human capital. Foreign nationals also need to be recruited to address the shortage in the industry. However a major weakness is the lack of proper methods to retain non-medical and administrative staffs. Administrative staffs are equally important in the sector but are not tendered with the facilities necessary for avoiding high rates of turnover. Retaining is rendered difficult due to this increasing the costs associated with the operations. Companies are not able to benefit if a trained staff leaves all too quickly thus leading to knowledge migration. In the healthcare sector it is especially crucial that managers are able to reduce stress and anxiety which can hinder the performance of employees.

Reference List
Brunetto, Y., Xerri, M. J., & Farr-Wharton, B. S. R. (2019, July).Individual and Organizational Support, Innovative Behaviour, Australian and US healthcare employees.In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2019, No. 1, p. 12716). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.[ /]
Cain, B., Buck, K., Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M., & Krug, I. (2017).Australian healthcare professionals’ knowledge of and attitudes toward binge eating disorder. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1291.[]
Chun Tie, Y., Birks, M., & Mills, J. (2018). The experiences of internationally qualified registered nurses working in the Australian healthcare system: An integrative literature review. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 29(3), 274-284.[ doi:10.5172/conu.673.28.1-2.101]
Cooke, F. L., & Bartram, T. (2015). Guest editors’ introduction: human resource management in health care and elderly care: current challenges and toward a research agenda. Human Resource Management, 54(5), 711-735. [Doi: 10.1002/hrm.21742] Greenfield, D., Lawrence, S. A., Kellner, A., Townsend, K., & Wilkinson, A. (2019). Health service accreditation stimulating change in clinical care and human resource management processes: A study of 311 Australian hospitals. Health Policy, 123(7), 661-665.[]

Herkes, J., Ellis, L. A., Churruca, K., & Braithwaite, J. (2019). A cross-sectional study investigating the associations of person-organisation and person-group fit with staff outcomes in mental healthcare. BMJ open, 9(9), e030669.[]

Isaacs, D. (2016). Are healthcare professionals working in Australia's immigration detention centres condoning torture. Journal of medical ethics, 42(7), 413-415.[doi:10.1080/13642980903007649 ] Jongen, C., McCalman, J., Campbell, S., & Fagan, R. (2019). Working well: strategies to strengthen the workforce of the Indigenous primary healthcare sector. BMC Health Services Research, 19(1), 1-12.[] Kendrick, M. I., Bartram, T., Cavanagh, J., & Burgess, J. (2019). Role of strategic human resource management in crisis management in Australian greenfield hospital sites: a crisis management theory perspective. Australian Health Review, 43(2), 157-164.[]

McKay, K., &Shand, F. (2018). Advocacy and luck: Australian healthcare experiences following a suicide attempt. Death studies, 42(6), 392-399.[ 07481187.2017.1359218]

Nankervis, A. R., Baird, M., Coffey, J., & Shields, J. (2016). Human resource management: strategy and practice. Talent attraction and selection.Cengage AU.

Shantz, A., Alfes, K., &Arevshatian, L. (2016). HRM in healthcare: the role of work engagement. Personnel Review, 45(2), 274-295.
Sood, V. R., Gururajan, R., Hafeez-Baig, A., &Wickramasinghe, N. (2018). Adoption of mobile devices in the Australian healthcare: a conceptual framework approach. In Technology Adoption and Social Issues: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 954-977). IGI Global.[ doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-5201-7]
Wilkinson, A., Muurlink, O., Awan, N., & Townsend, K. (2019).HRM and the health of hospitals. Health services management research, 32(2), 89-102. []
Yu, Y., Baird, K. M., & Tung, A. (2018). Human resource management in Australian hospitals: the role of controls in influencing the effectiveness of performance management systems. The International journal of human resource management, 1-26.[]


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