Not enough slack

What scares me about today’s healthcare push toward efficiency is that organizations can mistake cost cutting with efficiency gaining. Finding efficiencies takes people with workloads less than 120 percent. Efficiencies are not (always) attained through fewer employees.

Yes, coming off the hangover of cost-based reimbursement organizations had to “rightsize” their workforces. And, yes, the largest expense line item on the income statement is labor.

But I feel the efficiencies through workforce slimming have largely been attained. Today’s cost conscious organizations are often left with no choice but to stack duties on already overtaxed employees. There may be no other option, but I think it’s important to understand what the organization is potentially losing through the use of this method.

All that to highlight this article from the Wall Street Journal by JC Spender and Bruce Strong:

Most great ideas for enhancing corporate growth and profits aren’t discovered in the lab late at night, or in the isolation of the executive suite. They come from the people who daily fight the company’s battles, who serve the customers, explore new markets and fend off the competition.

In other words, the employees.

Slack is needed in order to get out of the to-do list mindset. When focused completely on task after task, there’s little time left to innovate, process improve, and creatively explore efficiency finding. Sure there’s some hyperbole here, but I think the issue of a task-obsessed workforce is real.

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