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October 7, 2010

10 Steps to Implement Hospital Layoffs With Minimal Disruption

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospitals are on track to implement more mass layoffs in 2010 than the record year of 2009. Becker’s Hospital Review and Denice Soyring Higman, founder and president of Soyring Consulting, discuss strategies for implementing hospital layoffs with minimal problems. 


1.   Focus on eliminating inefficiencies, not people.  Denice advises hospitals look at every department for cost inefficiencies. "Not every department has to be affected, but it's a mistake to just do nursing or ancillary or support departments," she says. "That's where you create bad feelings because people feel that just their department was targeted."

2.    Involve trusted employees in the decision process.

3.    Base decisions on measureable performance metrics and productivity.

4.    Carefully read union contracts.  "If it's a union, your layoffs may be by seniority of the union contract," says Denice Higman, citing the "last hired, first fired" approach to layoffs present in many union contracts. You may have to move union members into different positions rather than cut them completely to stay compliant with the contract.

5.    Decide how to reallocate responsibilities.  Denice remarks, "Before layoffs, work with management [of each department] to determine who will take job responsibilities of the [downsized] person and make sure those people are aware of their new responsibilities."

6.    Train your supervisors to inform the affected employees.

7.    Make a consistent public announcement about the layoff plans.

8.    Do not delay the layoff process.

9.    Provide post-downsizing support for your affected employees.

10.  Continue quality indicators to get back on track.


In the end, "You have to be sensitive to the people that are being laid off, but you also have to pay close attention to the people who are staying," Ms. Higman says. "Keep evaluating patient satisfaction, medical staff satisfaction, staff satisfaction and quality factors such as patient falls and medical errors to make sure your quality and satisfaction rates are not decreasing." That way, if your layoffs have negatively affected productivity, interactions with patients or revenue, you will be able to examine where the deficiencies lie or take steps to boost morale among your staff.

For more information on each of these steps, read the full article from Becker's Hospital Review.

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