Yours, Mine, and Ours: Workforce and Healthcare Integration

A company’s greatest asset is its workforce. The employees are the lifeblood of an organization, as I’m sure most leaders would agree. Therefore, paying close attention to keeping your employees informed and engaged when entering into an integrated behavioral health and primary care partnership is crucial for success. And the sooner, the better.

Sibling Rivalry

Like blended families, the integration of two organizations brings up some fundamental concerns among the employees. Concerns over job security, roles, and change in general are paramount. Your employees will be working with the employees from the partner company and will not likely develop into a cohesive team immediately. Additional challenges are introduced with the unique role of the employees who are hired jointly by the partners. The uncertainty and anxiety are sure to result in sibling rivalry among employees. Sibling rivalry is characterized by a jealousy that develops between employees. This, of course, impedes teamwork, especially if some members of the team are granted a superior status. This  sometimes happens when the integration efforts are held out as being a special or top-priority project. While it’s not possible to eliminate all anxiety, it’s possible to avoid sibling rivalry among your, my, and our employees and to allow them to transition into a unified team.

Healthcare integration is in its infancy and trained workforce is sparse. However, it is not necessary to hire new employees for your enhanced services. Providing training for employees, ongoing thorough and consistent communication, coupled with reassurance on the front end will go a long way toward successful integration of the employees, and are key to success. The following guidelines will help to promote a close-knit and committed integrated team:

  • Communicate an overview of the vision of the partnership followed with frequent status updates. This also helps your team develop a sense of buy in to the mission.
  • Provide each team member with a clear understanding of his or her role and how it fits into the whole.
  • Provide ample training for all team members to ensure that they are prepared for healthcare integration.
  • Building trust among employees is vital for effective teamwork. Frequent opportunities for face-to-face interaction are important for developing a sense of camaraderie.
  • Champions within the organization play a large role in the success of projects. Recognize them (they are in all levels of the organization, just look for them) and allow them to take on leadership roles.
  • As with all new endeavors, solicit feedback from your team. By providing an environment that values candor, early missteps are quickly corrected and creative ideas are put to use for long-term success.
  • It’s important to recognize that some people belong on the bus but are just in the wrong seats. Keep an eye out for employees who are onboard with the mission but struggling with their current role(s). These employees are keepers and should be placed in roles that emphasize their strengths.
  • And vital to a successful team, it’s important to acknowledge when an employee is neither prepared nor motivated for the adjustment in the mission and must seek professional fulfillment elsewhere.

What would you add to this list?

For successful healthcare integration, focused attention to your workforce can quickly transition “yours, mine, and ours” to an effective integrated team.

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