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HR Innovation

Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre was facing challenges in getting skilled manpower and retaining them. However, a well-thought out strategy in employee engagement and retention has worked wonders. Express Healthcare provides an insight

It is a paradox that the Indian healthcare industry known for its people-driven approach is today plagued by high attrition and lack of trained manpower. You can blame it on the growth and the increasing options available to its people and lack of training institutes to dole out sufficient number of skilled manpower. Layers of staff requirement and the depleting ratio is not just restricted to clinicians anymore. And the rising demand for trained managers and paramedics has only increased. Getting trained personnel who understands healthcare finance, HR and materials is a mammoth task. Besides management and administrative staff, it is always a challenge to get technicians for pump, cathlab, nuclear medicine etc as the demand is more than the supply.

Madurai-based 650-bed multi-speciality hospital, Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre (MMHRC) was facing similar challenges in getting skilled manpower and retaining them. However, the shift in the attitude and innova tion within few crucial areas played the trick. Today, the hospital with the total employee strength of 2,223, is reaping the benefits of it’s ‘out of the box' thinking.

Obtain and Retain

"We promote and embrace mentoring in both individual and organisational levels"

- Dr N Sethuraman

Founder Chairman

"We try to balance individual aspiration with the organisation goals to prevent loss of talent and opportunity"

- Dr S Gurushankar
Vice Chairman

MMHRC has started the initiative of mass interviewing the non-clinical candidates. This step has turned out to be an immensely time saving and practical way of recruiting the staff in this category. Through mass interviewing, the soft skill deficiency of the person is analysed. “We evaluate leadership skills, communication skills, body language, presentation skills, drive etc,” says Dr N Sethuraman, Founder Chairman, MMHRC. The hospital has been recruiting most of its doctors, managers, technicians during conferences and through word-of-mouth publicity. The forum, known as Federation of Hospital Administrators (where Dr Sethuraman is the founder Chairman), makes a good platform to recruit through various resources.

While attracting good people is half job done, motivating them to higher goals and retaining them is an uphill task. MMHRC has devised strategies to motivate and retain staff that includes a right mix of training initiatives and employee welfare schemes.

Appraisal and Training: The hospital started preparing a ‘training need chart’ based on the 360 degrees performance appraisal of each staff. “We conduct 360 degree performance appraisal of all the staff once in a year and undertake re-skilling of staff from one department to other. We make the staff realise where they stand and how they can modify their roles,” Besides, the regular training programmes in technical as well as soft skills has been emphasised upon and almost three per cent of turnover is spent on the same. The hospital has started involving the employees in the decision-making process. The suggestion schemes have been floated in the hospital, whereby employees can give their suggestions about different functional issues. The hospital has identified key performance areas (KPAs), key result areas (KRAs), managing points (MP) and core functional teams (CFT).

Glimpse of a training session

One of the summer camps

The hospital has started a crèche for its employees

Addressing aspirations: “We develop our staff to do things differently- what others don’t do. We try to balance individual aspiration with the organisation goals so as to prevent loss of employee confidence, talent and opportunity. For this we communicate effectively with our staff,” says Dr S Gurushankar, Vice Chairman, MMHRC.

Dr Sethuraman points out that MMHRC is trying to build an atmosphere where people will be treated not just as resources but as capital of the institution. “We strongly believe that rules, regulations, restrictions will not work in today’s modern employee management. All staff is empowered so as to decide on their own. We inculcate high performance and high caring culture as core values among our staff. This only brings innovation in our institution,” he adds.

The hospital has been diligently following a model where compensation is based on an employee’s experience, skills and above that, their output and not reflect biases. “We promote and embrace mentoring in both individual and organisational levels,” shares Dr Sethuraman.

Employee welfare schemes: MMHRC initiated employee welfare schemes which cover welfare benefits apart from superannuation and statutory benefits, like the festival bonus, educational allowance for their children etc. “We take care of the entire family with initiatives like appointment of spouse and educational allowance. This year we have sponsored the entire expenses for employee’s children admission in the medical college,” he adds.

It also organises summer camps for the staff children in the hospital premises. “This initiative motivates our staff and gives exposure to their children about our hospital. This has developed a strong bond with the staff,” adds Dr Gurushankar.

Addressing grievances: Often people leave for flimsy grievances and for lack of mechanism to address them. Thus, a CFT has been established, which keeps a watch on the grievances of key performers, and in case of any issues, they are settled either then and there or by a methodical approach.

Permission to fail: According to Dr Sethuraman, the best way to learn is by failing and this is also important while retaining talent. “We permit them to fail as we feel that failure is the best trainer for future success. Giving them the ‘permission to fail’ and learn from their mistakes is as important as empowering them to take crucial decision,” says Dr Sethuraman.

Train the Leaders: 'Do you work for the organisation or for your boss' is often a debated topic. “We strongly believe that employees are not leaving the institution, but they are leaving their boss. We periodically motivate, train, teach the team leaders about the importance of affection towards their staff,” says Dr Gurushankar.

Initiatives for employees
Family Medical benefits:
Free medical treatment to all employees and 50 per cent concession to their dependents. Free medicines worth Rs 500 (maximum) is given to an eligible employee who is admitted as an in-patient in the hospital.

Education Allowance:
Maximum of Rs 3,000 per child/per year.

The hospital runs a crèche for the employee’s kids on free of cost.

Employee’s Welfare fund:
It caters to urgent needs of the employees who have completed one year of service.

Funeral benefits:
It extends to the spouse of the employee in case of death.

Statutory benefits:
PF, ESI and gratuity benefits are offered.

Other benefits:Hospital gives loyalty bonus and various types of incentives to eligible employees.

Humour at work: In Dr Sethuraman’s words, earlier HR meant horror, but now in MMHRC it means humour at work. “Humor also helps reduce the day-to-day stress of office life. It helps people cope with frustrations, tiring schedules, irate clients, etc, resulting in reduction in stress,” he shares. Firms that have a light hearted working environment are better places to work in. People feel unafraid to express their thoughts or ideas, which brings in vitality to the organisation. Employees work with constant energy and motivation that produces better output for the firm. Also, it results in an increase in productivity. When people work in a vibrant office environment, they work with a lot of motivation. This happens as they work not only for a living, but also because they derive a lot of joy from the job.

Boredom at work is one of the main reasons why people quit jobs. The high attrition rate adds to the organisational costs of hiring and training new people. A pleasant atmosphere at work is a breeding ground for creativity and innovation, as it allows employees to think creatively, which can bring great results for a company.

Such well-thought strategies have helped the hospital to retain talent. “Almost 70 per cent of our staff and almost 40 per cent of our doctors are with us for more than 10 years. We have developed a sense of belongingness among them,” he says. Thus, in spite of industry-wide high attrition in the nursing staff, the hospital claims to have successfully retained 45 per cent of its nurses.



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