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One of the most common lies in business — right after “the check is in the mail” —  is “our employees are our biggest asset.”

Year after year, that maxim is repeated over and over — it shows up in hundreds of annual reports of hospitals across the nation.  While some forward-looking healthcare organizations have taken steps to change, re-titling the Vice President of Human Resources to Chief Talent Officer or Chief Human Capital Officer and referring to their employees as associates or partners, the vast majority of healthcare businesses actually treat their employees not as an asset — the estimated 70 percent of the net worth of their enterprise — but as an expense that must be controlled or even outsourced.

Hospitals, like their business counterparts in other sectors, struggle with the concept of employee empowerment. Programs, initiatives and campaigns to change how we view and treat our workers come and go like so many fads and the books that tout them.

Why does this matter?

The industry’s ability to design new and more cost-effective ways of delivering care will depend largely on our human capital.

It seems that the command and control approach to management is just one more fad.  It just lasted longer than most.

© John Gregory Self