Glossary of HR Terms

Looking to brush up on all the latest HR acronyms, buzzwords, and common terms? This glossary is for you, sort of like the ABCs of HR. It's everything you need to know in the realm of employee experience and human connection, defined in easy-to-understand language.


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HR for Healthcare

Specialized HR: A Healthcare Perspective

What Is HR for Healthcare?

HR for healthcare institutions is more important than ever given the economic and talent challenges the industry faces. Healthcare organizations have a mission to attract, retain, and develop top talent while fostering a culture of care and compassion — and HR is instrumental in fulfilling that mission.

HR’s role is more critical than ever, with widespread staff shortages threatening healthcare organizations’ ability to support patients. Even the most prepared ‌HR leaders at healthcare institutions have a lot of work ahead of them to overcome the expected wave of physician retirements and potential nursing shortages.

Learn more about what HR looks like in healthcare, how it differs from HR in other industries, and healthcare HR solutions that will improve outcomes for employees and their patients.

Healthcare HR 101

Healthcare HR in its simplest form is human resources inside healthcare organizations. Healthcare HR can differ from other industries in several key ways.

Patient Care Is Highly Regulated

HR plays an important compliance role in highly regulated healthcare settings. HR must verify that all employees are qualified for their roles and that HR-related policies and procedures follow applicable regulations. This includes conducting background checks to verify credentials and certifications. HR must also track whether employees are up to date on relevant laws and regulations, including ongoing training requirements and education credits.

HR is also responsible for creating and implementing compliance policies and procedures, including protocols for reporting potential violations or incidents. HR must ensure that employees are aware of what to do in the event of a potential violation. HR also tracks and audits compliance while taking corrective action as needed.

Healthcare Workers Are at Higher Risk of Exposure

Medical professionals are on the front lines of the fight against disease, illness, and injury, and their work often puts them at a higher risk for sickness or injury. As stewards of employee health and happiness, HR managers must protect team members from on-the-job harm.

HR should work with managers to develop and implement safety policies and procedures that protect employees from potential hazards. HR also ensures that employees receive appropriate safety training and understand safety protocols. Furthermore, HR works to ensure that employees have access to the right protective equipment, such as safety glasses, masks, and gloves.

Healthcare employees aren’t just subject to physical danger. Working in a healthcare setting can be a stressful and emotionally draining environment that affects employee mental health. Dealing with demanding patients and the long hours in a high-pressure environment can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression, and other conditions over time.

HR can help healthcare employees maintain their mental health by providing education, resources, and other support. These supports include accessible employee assistance programs, which provide counseling services and support for employees who are struggling. HR can also sponsor workshops to help healthcare employees develop coping skills for stress and burnout.

Turnover Rates Are on the Rise

High turnover in healthcare has been a growing issue since before the pandemic. In the past five years, the average hospital experienced a staggering 105% turnover, according to the 2023 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report. High staff turnover puts healthcare operations at risk, harms productivity, increases costs, and causes declines in the quality of care provided. Additionally, high turnover can hurt employee morale and decrease engagement over time.

Burnout is a driver of healthcare turnover, in part because many professionals are often overworked, underpaid, and don’t feel supported by their employers. These conditions contribute to high levels of stress and fatigue, which are among the top causes of burnout or and voluntary turnover

You can help to reduce high turnover in healthcare by implementing policies that foster a positive work environment. These can include competitive salaries, flexible schedules, and increased opportunities for career development. Additionally, HR can provide resources such as counseling and stress management programs to help employees cope with the demands of their work. Proactive HR leaders can reduce turnover while instilling a working environment that encourages employees to stay with the organization.

3 HR Challenges in Healthcare

Healthcare HR professionals have significant challenges ahead of them. Here are some of the barriers you might face as an HR professional in a healthcare setting, along with how to overcome them.

Filling Positions During Talent Shortages

Filling healthcare roles is becoming increasingly challenging with ongoing labor shortages and the industry’s evolving needs. Shortages remain a long-term problem, with the World Health Organization estimating a global shortfall of 10 million healthcare workers in 2030.

This shortage has several factors, including an aging population, fewer people entering the field, and increasing demands for healthcare services.

To encourage healthcare workers to join your organization, focus on developing a strong employer brand that sets your institution apart from the competition. Bolster this employer brand with a culture that emphasizes collaboration and employee support. The more you can demonstrate support for healthcare workers, the more likely candidates are to apply and accept your job offer.

Look externally, too, for potential recruiting opportunities. Partnerships with healthcare schools, for example, can give you an inside track on emerging talent. This work doesn’t stop at the offer letter, however. Provide ongoing professional development opportunities for employees, including in-house training, so you can develop the existing workforce to handle emerging needs.

Engaging and Retaining Top Talent

Talent shortages mean that more employers are fighting for the same talent — including trying to win over your current workforce. Employee loyalty must be earned. When HR builds connections and a supportive workplace community, they can increase employee engagement and retention.

Peer support initiatives are one way for employees to work through challenges with colleagues who understand the unique nature of healthcare. Peer mentors can help new hires navigate the organization’s culture, while regular peer group discussions can foster a support network. Employee resource groups and other internal communities can also help employees connect with each other.

HR can also build employee loyalty and engagement by highlighting employee achievements on internal and external communication channels.

Supporting Employee Work-Life Balance

Supporting work-life balance is a challenge for healthcare HR leaders due to the unique demands and 24/7 nature of the industry. Healthcare professionals must provide timely, life-saving patient care while working long and irregular hours. These conditions can lead to high levels of stress and burnout, with employees struggling to find time for their personal lives and their own health.

One way HR leaders can help is by implementing flexible scheduling options. These can include compressed workweeks, job-sharing, or self-scheduling, all of which help employees better manage their work hours while meeting personal commitments.

Additional paid time off, paid parental leave, or sabbatical programs are other HR measures that can help employees reduce the risk of stress and burnout without worrying about their finances.

3 Healthcare HR Solutions to Implement in Your Institution

Healthcare HR leaders have many actions they can take now to make life better for their workforce and, correspondingly, their patients. Here are four ways to support healthcare staff at your organization.

Enhanced Onboarding Experiences

Healthcare HR teams should build relationships with employees starting with an effective, engaged onboarding plan that helps them be immediately successful in their roles.

These onboarding plans should be consistent across job roles while considering the individual needs of each new hire based on their role and needs. Make sure new hires receive regular check-ins with their managers. Encourage them to provide feedback on their onboarding process to ensure it’s going smoothly and that new hires feel comfortable and supported.

MercyAscot, one of New Zealand’s largest private surgical facilities and an Enboarder client, needed to standardize its onboarding program while leaving room ‌to customize the process for different roles.

MercyAscot’s HR team noticed that the onboarding experience was very different for corporate hires versus those who were dealing directly with patients. The organization’s goal was to create consistent processes while retaining flexibility based on the job role’s needs.

By integrating Enboarder’s workflow management system with its HR software, MercyAscot created a consistent process for onboarding healthcare employees that helps new hires feel welcome and engaged.

Clear Paths for Career Growth

By providing clear career paths and emphasizing internal mobility, healthcare HR teams help employees grow within the organization. This growth potential leads to greater job satisfaction, higher retention, and improved performance. HR leaders can help employees pursue their career interests through job rotations, job shadowing, and options to try out roles in different departments.

Additionally, healthcare HR teams can develop career tracks based on certain skills and experience. Create a skills chart to help employees understand their options for progression. Deliver tailored learning opportunities to employees as they achieve new skills goals. This clarity helps employees explore possible career trajectories with assurance, as they know what skills they have and which they need to improve or develop.

Support this mobility by creating a culture that encourages employees to take ownership of their careers and embrace growth opportunities. Do this by offering talent development tools, access to learning opportunities, and other resources that motivate employees to take control of their career path.

Focus on providing employees with personalized experiences. This could include offering tailored learning and development opportunities, recognizing employees for their efforts, and providing feedback tailored to each team member.

Improved Communication Practices

Healthcare HR teams can improve employee performance and engagement by improving company communication practices. By creating an open and transparent communication environment, healthcare HR teams can ensure employees feel fully supported and engaged in their roles.

Encourage managers to implement regular team meetings to field concerns, in addition to the regular one-on-one check-ins they’re already conducting. Additionally, healthcare HR teams should ensure that they are actively listening to their staff, as this can help to foster a culture of trust and collaboration.

Focus on providing employees with personalized communication. This could include offering tailored learning and development opportunities, recognizing employees for their efforts, and providing feedback tailored to each team member.

HR for Healthcare: Supporting Staff and Patients

Healthcare HR teams are more important than ever for organizations that want to overcome talent shortages, attract and retain the best talent, and ultimately improve patient outcomes. By engaging in strategic planning, HR leaders can make sure that your healthcare institution is well-positioned to achieve your mission of healing.

👀 Further reading: Check out this interview with our customer at MercyAscot, a private hospital in New Zealand.