If you’ve been following WeThink from the beginning, you have the idea that frontline worker development is an important issue to us. We are not only passionate about it because, well, we’re learning professionals, but also because helping employees grow is a strategy that can be applied to employee retention across almost all industries. Frontline workers, specifically, are an integral part of an organization that don’t always have educational pathway options available to them. And we think that ought to change.
Today on WeThink, we’re taking a look at frontline worker development through a healthcare lens by examining how education plays a role in the healthcare learning pathway. In industries like business and education, the pathway for learning can seem fairly straightforward. You get an employee at an administrative level, you give them financial incentives to seek a degree, and promote them accordingly as they broaden their skills. Now, we would argue there are plenty of other ways to help these employees develop that will make them much more loyal, engaged employees, but that’s a topic for another blog. However, we can all agree that when it comes to our healthcare workers—our nurses, CNAs, hospital administrative staff—this pathway isn’t so cut and dry.
That said, we see healthcare as a unique opportunity and challenge to be creative about providing educational pathways and other professional development to those who are caring for patients in our healthcare systems.
Let’s consider a healthcare employee—for example, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)—and how supporting her education in a practical way could benefit your organization.
Step 1: Identify the pathway.
For some frontline workers, there is a desire to get the industry credentials to move up the ladder in a very direct way. In this case, it may mean getting a nursing degree, becoming an RN or even returning to school to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. For others, this may mean more non-traditional education (workshops, company development programs, etc.) to move up within his/her current position in the organization. Maybe this CNA wants to eventually be a shift manager and could benefit from leadership training.
Step 2: Clearly define opportunities.
This is arguably most important. In a healthcare system where employees could take some many different educational paths, helping your learners see what their options are and how the organization can support them is key. If it’s not clear what the potential benefits are, it is difficult for employees to see the end benefit.
Step 3: Decide what it’s worth to you.
Knowing how vital worker development is to employee retention (and how employee retention impacts to your organization’s success) decide how you want to support these ventures. Again, being clear about this will only motivate employees and help them see how they could grow with you.
Step 4: Document successes and revise accordingly.
As in any industry, it is important that these policies not be fixed—rather, you are learning from each and every employee’s experience and revising your program to always be serving your workers and your organization’s best interests. Not only will this help ensure that you’re staying on the cutting edge of educational pathways, but it will also show your team that you’re truly invested in them and their growth, which will in turn, increase their loyalty to your brand and the communities you serve.
As always, we want to hear from you! What other questions do you have about developing educational pathways for healthcare employees?