Leadership Insights: The Importance of Bench Strength

Stacy Jones – Association Manager

Winning Teams Have Bench Strength

College basketball season is in full stride and soon, March Madness brackets will be filled. As winning coaches know, having the right number of high-quality players available to substitute during a game to keep all players fresh can mean the difference of moving forward to the next game or a season-ending loss.

As in any competitive sport, we all know that building and supporting a strong team is crucial for ongoing success. For health care leaders, building your bench strength continues to be a growing challenge due to several factors.

  1. Health care employment continues to boom. In fact, employment in health care increased by 42,000 in January 2019. Within the industry, job gains occurred in ambulatory health care services (+22,000) and hospitals (+19,000). Health care has added 368,000 jobs over the past year. (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS))
  2. BLS also reported that job openings also continue to increase, especially in the health care sector. In December 2018, this level rose to an additional 79,000 job openings in the health and social services sector.
  3. Couple these statistics with the growing demand of services due to U.S. aging population trends and many seasoned health care professionals are hitting the retirement age. The need for additional health care leadership “bench strength” has never been greater.

Donna Webb – Chief Operating Officer

Build Your Bench Strength from Within and Expert “Substitutions”

When leadership and staff positions are open, team members have to take on the burden of extra workload and, many times, employee burnout, decreased morale, and overall care delivery can suffer.

Having a proactive strategy and plan in place is important in preventing turnover and burnout while increasing employee work performance.

  • Keep employees engaged and strengthen their knowledge by providing a variety of educational opportunities, including association meeting attendance, classroom sessions, webinars, online learning, and in-person training.
  • Implement flexible work arrangements, including job sharing, where appropriate.
  • Hire an expert interim leader fluent in improving operational performance to help address inappropriate staffing or understaffing.
  • Cross-train roles and responsibilities to allow employees to learn a new skill and help to improve morale.
  • Change working conditions, such as work hours, schedules, and giving the ability to make decisions, according to their responsibility area.
  • Provide interim staffing to fill the gap of key organizational roles and to help jumpstart a key initiative.

As leaders, it is important to develop ongoing bench strength to keep your team fresh and ready to take on the latest challenges. By implementing proactive strategies to decrease staff burnout and improve work performance, you prevent care teams from causing unnecessary “fouls” while they keep quality care in focus.

Ready to learn how Pathway Health can support your organization to build your bench strength with interim leaders? Contact us.