But sustainable, long-term labor management also requires bigger efficiency improvements. Programs like Lean management get at the core problem of delivery efficiency, helping directors do more with less. Although the impetus for such a program might not stem first from labor concerns, there is a lot of overlap with other hospital priorities.
Conversations about patient experience, quality, and cost should not be separated from labor management, Nippert says. The issues are interrelated and require cooperation throughout the hospital.
One way Nippert deals with training is her own customized workforce management simulation. Trainees spend a day in the simulation, which includes a patient care leader, a budget officer, an allied health officer, a representative from human resources, and a facilities and support leader.
Nippert brought in an expert in simulators to build the program, so that not only are the scenarios
challenging for the director dealing with hiring or management scenarios, but they also involve cooperation and reactions from the other roles at the table.
"This can be used at the frontline manager level all the way up to executive level," she says. "You can see how they make decisions about how to hire the staff, how would you manage your labor, but without the risk of harming your patients or your satisfaction."