Human resources management and Importance

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Education

Human resources management and Importance

Human resource management (HRM) – a major determinant of any system’s performance – has been overlooked in the health sector until recently.

While the non-health sector has defined and evaluated the effects of HRM interventions, the particular nature of the health sector makes difficult to apply lessons learned from elsewhere. However, one lesson that can be applied to HRM in health is that single or uncoordinated interventions are less likely to achieve performance improvements than strategic packages. See What difference does (good) HRM make?

The importance of human resources management in health care: a global context considers the importance of HRM in improving overall patient health outcomes and delivery of health care services. The authors argue that proper management of human resources is critical in providing a high quality of health care. The authors argue that a refocus on HRM in health care and more research are needed to develop new policies. New and effective human resources management strategies are needed to achieve better outcomes from and access to health care around the world.

Defining roles and competencies
Competencies – what a person is capable of doing, rather than what they are doing – help address both behavioural and technical skills needed to define job expectations and requirements. They provide a common language and framework for those critical – but sometimes elusive – aspects of job performance and are an effective tool for communicating about performance because they help people frame expectations and goals in clear terms.

Defining and maintaining job descriptions
Job descriptions are the basic organising element in any organisation. They document an employee’s tasks and responsibilities, what his or her authority is, and what skills and qualifications are necessary to do the work. They form the basis of the contract an individual holds with the organisation. Definition of appropriate job descriptions contributes to improve efficiency of the workforce. They need to be dynamic and flexible allowing for revision and adaptation to new situations, expanding or focusing the scope of intervention according to needs. Changes in job description should always be accompanied by educational support to ensure appropriate skills. See The Health and Family Planning Manager’s Toolkit.

Improved supervision
Supervision of staff in health care has two aims: to ensure the quality of program and clinic operations; and to enable staff to perform to their maximum potential. Traditional approaches have focused on ‘inspecting’ facilities and ‘controlling’ individual staff performance. However, improving performance and maintaining standards through individual supervision is impractical: most services are complex and the result of coordinated team effort, and are not dependent on the actions of a single individual.

Further resources:
* Guidelines for implementing supportive supervision: a step-by-step guide with tools to support immunisation
* Making supervision supportive and sustainable: new approaches to old problems

Professional development and training
Contemporary specificities of labour in the health care sector: introductory notes for discussion argues that the rapid development of health innovation systems means that knowledge can become out of date. The authors argue that continued education and training of health personnel will help overcome these barriers and improve the labour status of the sector.

Further resources:
* WHO recommendations for clinical mentoring to support scale-up of HIV care, antiretroviral therapy and prevention in resource-constrained settings
* Educating to improve population health outcomes in chronic disease: an innovative workforce initiative across remote, rural and Indigenous communities in northern Australia

Work environment
The work environment has a strong influence on job satisfaction and turnover. Decisions to emigrate by nurses and doctors are often related to a poor working environment. Low recognition, poor communication, poor supervision and career stagnation are some of the most cited factors. Magnet hospitals, despite being a concept developed in more industrialised countries, is a good example of how a good work environment can increase retention of health workers .
Further resources

What makes a good employer?
* Perceptions of health workers about conditions of service: A Namibian case study

Tools for HRH management
* MSH Improving human resource management
* WHO tools and methodologies for the health workforce
* HRH Global Resource Centre Tools
* HRH Tool Compendium

Resources from the US and the UK
* UK Department of Health: human resources and training
* UK Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
* Health Care Workforce Toolkit – from the American Hospital Association

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