Health systems and physician organizations have been hesitant in the past to adopt a hybrid workforce model with onsite and remote employees. That is understandable for patient-facing employees. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, there are many positions that can function just as well at home as they do onsite. Your revenue cycle team is a great example. With the right tools and the right people, you can ensure optimal performance.
The vast majority of workers surveyed said they would like the opportunity to work from home as least part of the time, so it can bolster job satisfaction. At the same time, employers can save $11,000 a year in overhead costs for every employee that works from home even half of the time.
Hiring remote workers
While it may be easy to find candidates who, on paper, appear to have the correct job skill and experience requirements, that is only half the battle in identifying who will truly be a good hire for your organization. This is true no matter the location—onsite or remote. While an accurate job description is essential when recruiting for new talent, a well-documented, position-specific profile is equally as important. This profile defines not only the essential job skills that a qualified candidate must possess, but also the essential character traits that distinguish satisfactory employees from stellar employees. Start by taking a look at your best employees and what distinguishes them from the rest. It is those things (such as strong time management and organizational skills, self-awareness, initiative, persistence, and service orientation, just to name a few, that you want to include in the position profile when recruiting new talent for your team. Then, be sure that you prepare targeted behavioral interview questions that will help you evaluate each candidate’s strengths or weaknesses in those important areas.
It is nearly impossible to gauge these key attributes solely based on a resume or phone interview. At HBCS, we’ve found that video interviews provide much better insight. Video interviews give a more complete perspective of the candidate’s true personality and aptitude for remote work while also revealing a person’s technical proficiency and comfort with digital communication tools, which are typically key skill requirements for remote or on-site staff. Another benefit of video interviews is that they can be recorded. This not only allows you to go back and review the interview rather than simply relying on your interview notes, which can be particularly helpful when interviewing multiple candidates for a similar job. Video interviews allow for sharing the recorded interview with other management or key stakeholders who may participate in the hiring decision.
Most employers do not take the very important step to conduct thorough background screening on job candidates. Contrary to common belief, thorough background checks are relatively inexpensive, and can be completed fairly quickly. Taking the extra step to have a full background screening completed can make a significant difference in your hiring results and avoid potential issues downline. Background screening should be comprehensive and include:
- Education verification
- Verification of prior employment and performance.
- Social security traces
- OIG/EPLS and state specific registries
Engagement, communication, and technology
Managing remote teams requires different approaches to team leadership and performance and productivity management. While most employees overwhelmingly prefer being able to work from home, they also expect, and need, to feel connected. Without the ability to walk by a team member’s desk to touch base, or call together impromptu group meetings, effective team leaders set up regular, yet informal group and individual video calls. This helps ensure communication on a personal level, something that happens naturally in an office environment, and keeps remote staff connected with their coworkers. Regular video meetings also help to identify any potential underlying issues with disengagement, team dynamics, or other factors that could impact performance.
Creating incentives and implementing employee appreciation initiatives can help inspire individuals and enhance morale by disseminating your organization’s culture among virtual teams. Be sure to acknowledge and celebrate achievements, milestones, and anniversaries.
Virtual teams need the ability to communicate efficiently and effectively. Therefore, it’s important to remove any barriers that would make communicating more difficult. Implement tools like chat rooms and instant messaging and provide clear guidelines for using them. A knowledge bank built over a secure intranet can help virtual employees easily locate documents or other information they need to do their jobs. Tracking down resources can be especially challenging for virtual employees.
Creating an environment of transparency and accountability is essential to creating an optimally performing virtual team. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) for each position to measure and achieve goals with personal and scorecards, so employees can self-manage to their goals. Having weekly KPI updates for both individuals and teams ensures proactive identification of issues and appropriate corrective action.
A different approach
Even though health systems and physician organizations had little choice whether to implement virtual teams due to the pandemic, they may want to think again before moving everyone back inhouse once the pandemic has waned. Considering the financial hit so many have taken, implementing virtual teams permanently is a great way to recoup financial gains through ongoing cost savings.
One way to reap all the benefits of having a hybrid workforce is to partner with revenue cycle experts to manage either part or all of the recruiting, training, or management of virtual teams. Doing so can free up human resources staff to focus on more strategic initiatives while helping you achieve your strategic financial goals faster.