A Tale of HR

Recently, a local college student found my LinkedIn profile and asked if she could interview me about working in Human Resources Management (HRM) in a healthcare organization. I was glad to talk with her, having spent my whole career in HRM.

Human Resources As a Career

What prompted me to get into HR in the first place? It was my interest in combining psychology with business. Remember, in 1980 when this occurred, it was called Personnel, and not yet Human Resources. I indicated that I found myself in a healthcare setting as accidentally as I found myself working for 29 years with property & casualty insurers. “Happenstance”, i.e, a chance happening or event, I’d say is the operative word. In other words, I needed a job and there happened to be an open HR position in either insurance, or, in this instance, healthcare - more specifically, a community health center. Having lived a lifetime in suburbia, I was not familiar with the concept of a community health center.

Ways HR Has Changed

The field has evolved from being heavily ensconced in administrative work to more business consulting, leadership development, and talent management, to name a few areas. Unfortunately, we haven’t purged ourselves completely of the administrative work. I informed her that we were in the throes of beginning to implement a Human Resources Information System (HRIS) in our health center. I’ve told everyone who will listen that we’re moving from the Stone Age to the 21st Century in one fell swoop!

Healthcare Policies and HRM

Providing an affordable healthcare benefit to employees has become increasingly expensive to employers. Today, most employers offer a high deductible health plan, and, in some cases, it’s the employer’s only offering. This has shifted the financial burden more towards the employee. The role of HRM is to educate employee about their employer’s healthcare plans.

The Excitement Factor of HRM

What ‘excites’ me about HR is change. It’s constant, and that laws and policies and their application follow suit. I can honestly say that the variety of work an HR Generalist touches: HRIS, compensation, benefits, recruitment, policy writing and interpretation, employee relations, etc., keeps it interesting. Challenge yourself to join (invite yourself if you have to) and actively participate in a project team in your organization outside of mainstream HR. You’ll find that’s where you’ll do strategic work and learn your organization’s business. And that’s exciting.

HRM Reaches Its Full Potential

HRM can help employees grow, develop, and achieve work-life balance. While we’ve definitely made progress in this space at my organization, I think it’s only fair to say that there are always opportunities to improve. My personal interest lies in educating first-time leads and supervisors. These ‘engines’ in every organization need-to-know HR laws and training in core competencies, such as providing feedback, delegating, and how to have a difficult conversation, to only name a few.

HR In Healthcare vs. Others

While HR skills by and large are transferable from one industry to another, the biggest challenge someone new to healthcare will face will be to learn your new organization’s business. It may feel overwhelming at first, but if you listen, ask enough questions, and invest your energies, it begins to make sense over time. I also think it’s only fair to say that my HR experience in a nonprofit community health center, serving the area’s under-served, might be a bit different than what an HR professional would experience in a large healthcare setting, such as a hospital system.

Connection To the HR Profession

I’m currently serving on my local Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) board. The information and support I have received from the national organization has helped me keep up-to-date on current laws, policies, and best practices. The value of networking with local HR professionals has proved to be invaluable as we all seek to put our knowledge into practice.