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In a poor community one of the most important things to have is a health facility. Health is wealth as the saying goes, a simple statement but true. A successful career and all the material wealth that comes with it is incomparable to health. But poverty provides barriers for those who are not insured and could not afford to pay the fees of a medical doctor or avail of the health services of a private clinic.
Thus, in poor places like North Suburbia it is imperative to maintain the Neighborhood health clinic (NHC). However, the NCH is plague with monetary and employee-related problems. There are many solutions that NHC leaders can consider but it can be argued that hiring a competent human resource manager is the most effective solution that can create an immediate positive effect.
The Trouble at NHC
There was a time when North Suburbia was an attractive place to live. Due to an economic boom in the 1980s, Caucasians, African-Americans, and Hispanics began to replace the American-Indians that used to dominate the region. After a while, and because of significant shifts in the economic climate of the place, African-Americans became the majority.
However, this trend did not last for long because high cost of living and expensive housing drove many away and the vacuum left was soon filled in by Hispanics. The only common denominator is that most of the residents are poor regardless of their ethnic background.
Poverty easily creates a chain reaction of negative effects. The workload increases but the patients that come to NHC cannot afford to pay the bills. The NHC cannot run on good will and compassion alone. It must have a steady cash flow in order to buy medicines, purchase necessary equipment and pay for the wages of the health workers.
Thus, the members of the board and top leaders of NHC must also divide their time to not only manage the facility but also to raise funds for the health center. But aside from the lack of funds other pressing concerns threatens to shut down the NHC.
There is a culture and communication issue. There is a need to have equal representation in terms of ethnic composition of the work force.
If NHC fails to attract African-American workers then the members of the black community would not be encouraged to use the services of the said facility, thinking that the place is run by Hispanics. If the situation is reversed the same thing will happen to the sentiments of the Spanish-speaking members of North Suburbia, they too will feel uncomfortable in availing the services of the NHC.
The most sought after members of the community that should work in the health center are African-Americans; however, they are some of the most unreliable groups of workers that can be found at NHC. These are undependable workers because they are the byproduct of an environment struggling with a high crime rate, gangs, and drug use.
According to one health officer: “some potential employees also had criminal records, were recovering from problems with substance abuse or had complicated family issues that could potentially interfere with their work schedules” (Denend, 2005, p.65). The situation calls for an expert in human resource management.
It is of great importance to upgrade the workforce and the leadership core of NHC, nevertheless, “despite the tremendous need for training, NHC had been limited in the amount of time and money it devoted to staff development” (Denend, 2005, p.65).
There must be continuous training to update the skills of the health workers. At the same time it is also crucial to bring them to a level of maturity and confidence in order to minimize the risk of errors.
Most Effective Solution
At first glance the root cause of the problem is poverty and the lack of funds. But in truth these are social issues that NHC must not focus on. Surely it is important to increase the earning capacity of the members of the community but the main task of NHC is not to stimulate the economic recovery of the said region.
At first glance it seems that members of the board must work harder when it comes to fund-raising endeavors. But weighing all the problems there is one action that can address a major portion of the issues. The leaders must put their heads together to attract and hire a competent human resources manager.
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The core problem was echoed by one employee who said, “There’s no HR here, so everything goes to management” (Denend, 2005, p.66). Imagine the confusion and the burden carried by the officials of NHC when they try to put out fires without solving the root cause of the troubles that they face.
They have to realize quickly that even if they raise funds, the money will be wasted on hiring the wrong people and the added cost of errors in the workplace, not to mention work-related violence, can close down the NHC.
Members of the board must remember that there is a close connection between employee performance and customer satisfaction (Buttle, 2004). This is the domain of an HR manager. They are able to deal with an assortment of employment problems. The first order of business is to develop the correct strategies in order to hire the right personnel.
It is therefore imperative to hire a competent HR manager because the HR department acts like a filter that will sift through the application data, in order to choose the right candidate for the task at hand.
It is important to realize that recruitment processes and strategies must be enhanced to adapt to the challenges faced by the community (Buttle, 2004, p.9). The HR manager must learn to use information to be able to predict to a certain degree that an applicant possess the right characteristics suited for the job.
A competent HR manager possesses the right qualification to provide the necessary training for the employees. A competent HR manager also understands the ethical issues that are in existence.
Therefore, the hiring process as well as the methodologies used for training the employees must be carefully studied so that there would be no complaints from the community. Nevertheless, it is not enough to hire the right people and train them; an effective motivation program must also exist.
HR managers know the value of motivation and the need for employees to work at the highest levels. They are aware that motivation enables health workers to strive for a higher standard of service excellence (Moynihan & Pandey, 2007, p.803). HR managers are trained to develop and maintain a system of monitoring in order to determine the performance of the members of the staff.
They know how to detect a significant drop in performance levels and when that occurs a competent HR manager is also capable of raising-up the standards once again.
HR managers must work closely with the management team at NHC to pinpoint proven methods of motivation so that it will meet changes in the community and at the same time inspire the workforce (Boella & Goss-Turner, 2005, p.42). The members of the board and other managers are focused on the medical aspect of the health center and can easily neglect the needs of the workers.
The need to motivate employees is imperative in every form of business but in the case of NHC it is a matter of life and death. It is not just about profit but the survival of the community. Without a reliable workforce, the health center will be forced to shut down.
Motivation is the key but it is not a byproduct of wishful thinking, it is the result of careful planning. It requires specific knowledge and experience on how to manage the human resources aspect of the NHC.
It is easy to understand why the members of the board focused on raising funds. Without a sustainable source of income the NHC can close down in a year or two. However, a focus on the monetary aspect of the problem will never solve most of the issues because at the core of the problem is the lack of management expertise, especially in the area of human resource management.
Even if the said facility has access to money, the current crop of employees are unable to maximize it to help those in need. Tardiness, errors in the workplace and unsatisfactory service easily defeat the purpose of the NHC. The goal is to help people and therefore aside from the need to purchase medicines and equipment it is imperative to have well-trained and well-motivated health workers doing their job.
The most important step is to hire a competent HR manager in order to increase the efficiency of the NHC and reduce its overhead costs so that the funds can be stretched even further to provide service for those who are desperately in need of medical care.
Boella, M. & Goss-Turner, S. (2005). Human Resource Management. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Buttle, F. (2004). Customer Relationship Management. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Denend, L. (2005). Neighborhood Health Clinic: Serving the Underserved in a Complex Environment. CA: Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Moynihan, D. & S. Pandey. (2007). Finding Workable Levers Over Work Motivation: Comparing Satisfaction, Job Involvement, and Organizational Commitment. Administration and Society, 39(7), 803-832.