As if things weren't complicated enough, the new thinking on employee engagement in healthcare is occurring in the midst of enormous change. Nobody knows for certain what healthcare will look like in five years.
"I can't think of an industry that has more vectors of force hitting it simultaneously than healthcare," Davenport says. "You have legislative issues, financial issues, science issues, technical issues, cultural and morality issues. The things that are smashing into healthcare are if not unprecedented then at least unusual.
Healthcare has had to run so fast to catch up because for generations it was a pretty simple deal. It's not so simple anymore."
Walter says his son was writing a college paper recently on strategic HR management. "He said, 'Dad what is the difference between now and the days when it was 'personnel?'' I said 'the difference is now we are a major player at the table and we are there to drive the organization in a lot of things like engagement, sometimes kicking and screaming,'" Walters says. "A lot of people aren't interested in engagement, but once they see the results it makes all the difference in the world."