The nature of the health care profession is about offering care, so it’s difficult to provide care without being in the workplace.
That doesn’t mean health care jobs can’t be flexible. But how do you bring workflex to hospitals, clinics, doctor offices, etc.?
Due to the wide variety of roles and responsibilities in health care settings, flexibility will look very different for doctors, nurses, technicians and other support personnel.
Workflex also requires an open discussion of organizational culture to understand the values and priorities of individuals and organizations. This is especially true in organizations with grand missions and high stakes for failure — such as health care — where it is easy for a culture of self-sacrifice to emerge, encouraging managers and staff to believe that self-care can only come after everyone else’s needs have been met.
To help make workflex a successful reality, Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has produced a free resource, Workflex and Health Care Guide: From Forced Flexibility to Effective Schedules.
The Guide provides real-life examples and practical advice, and focuses on creating a more effective and flexible workplace for those employees who have responsibilities for providing direct patient care as well as those who maintain safe and clean physical environments and supplies.
The workflex strategies identified in this Guide are divided into four issues particularly relevant to health care:
- Scheduling in a 24/7 Patient Care Environment
- Telehealth and Long Distance Patient Care
- Economic Security
- Retaining Older Workers
In addition, we discuss how task flexibility and universal design can support older health care professionals — an essential component of preparing for an increase in health care demands associated with the aging Baby Boomers and the Affordable Care Act.
Clearly, workflex is already practiced in the health care sector. But efforts to introduce more flexibility may meet with resistance when the primary purpose of workflex is to support just-in-time staffing models in which employees have little control or predictability in their schedules.
In order for flexible scheduling options to be effective, they must meet the needs of both the organization and the employees.
And, ultimately, workflex makes the health care workplace healthier for all concerned.