Want to Improve HR: View HR As A “System”

by Michael Haberman on April 16, 2009 · 0 comments


Yesterday consumer advocate and radio and TV personality Clark Howard had a show segment on a hospital (I believe it was Geisinger Health System and their ProvenCare system) in which he discussed their system approach to providing healthcare. He talked about how they have a protocol for ensuring that patients get the proper treatment, which includes a strict checklist that must be completely checked before anyone gets operated on. This “system” they have put in place has been so successful in reducing relapses and thus greatly reducing costs that they now give 90-day warranties on certain procedures. This means that if you need further care within the 90-day period there is no additional cost to you, the patient. It has increased the “wellness” of the patients and has reduced costs by 15%.

This got me to thinking about HR and the fact that it is a system and as such could probably benefit from a strict protocol similar to what is used at Geisinger. I know many HR departments have checklists for various procedures, yet many are not followed. We have a checklist for hiring, yet many times I-9s are not completed. We have checklists for terminations, yet many times a form is missing or ignored. These checklists, often poorly done, are for discrete segments of HR and could use some improvement. If we used them strictly we might avoid bad hires, bad terminations, poor reviews, missing reviews, undocument promotions or demotions, expired visas or missed enrollments. Think about that. Anything you can improve in your shop?

But a bigger picture comes from thinking about HR as a system and realizing that things we do in compensation, e.g., also has an impact on recruitment, promotions, employee relations, terminations, retirement and benefit costs. I think it would be a major change for many HR departments to sit down in a working session and go through a checklist asking the question “If we put this in place how will it affect ……?” This might help some of us avoid problems caused by implementation of “programs” where we have not thought about the impact on a bigger system. It would also help companies that have a tendency to implement the “HR or management program de jour”. You can ward off managers and executives who bring you “the newest and the best.”

Who knows, this approach might lead to better care for your “patients” and reduce your operating costs as well.

If you are reading this and have such a system in place PLEASE leave a comment and tell the rest of us about how it works (or doesn’t). Let us learn from you.
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