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The Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare Performance Reviews

In a pandemic, priorities shift. For healthcare providers, that has meant a finite focus on patient care and employee safety, along with a daily realignment of staff to handle the most urgent care needs. This narrowing of operations has also meant that many procedures and processes, such as ongoing performance evaluations and annual reviews, have been modified or, in some cases, put completely on hold. Providers are realizing that neglecting these assessments is not optimal for the long term—and they’re starting to reimagine how to improve them when nothing seems normal.

This blog post excerpts an article from HealthStream, Performance Management Turned Upside Down, that features HealthStream’s Brad Weeks, Director, Performance Platform Solutions, and Megan Gibson, Manager, Success Management. This article explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has made healthcare organizations even more aware of the importance of improving performance evaluations and employee reviews at a time when nothing is normal about performance management in healthcare.

COVID-19 Has Altered Human Resources Processes

In healthcare, performance management historically has been done through annual evaluations with direction and oversight from Human Resources and the executive team. Then along comes the pandemic, and procedures and policies are forced to change. Organizations are forced to postpone procedures like elective surgeries, and performance reviews got pushed out indefinitely because they aren’t critical to patient care. At the same time, staff are being asked to take on many new roles and responsibilities.

Assessments Put on Hold

“Many organizations made the decision not to issue merit, or performance-based evaluations, at the start of the pandemic” Gibson says. “Some providers we work with had put systems in place to have evaluations wrapped up by the end of the first-quarter of 2021, and now those assessments have been extended through the end of the year. They still want the conversations to occur, because of internal policy and the requirements of surveys, but the tone and timing is completely different.”

“In many cases, organizations had to furlough staff who would have led those activities, so managers have had to step in and complete reviews of personnel they didn’t previously oversee in order to meet deadlines. That created a new level of stress for both the reviewer and reviewee,” Gibson adds.

A Staffing, Capacity, and Focus Issue

“The normalcy of the whole cycle was affected,” she says. “And the biggest struggle we have seen has been getting people to submit their evaluations. Most people don’t actually look forward to performance reviews, and so facilities have had to fight to achieve compliance and meet these extended deadlines.”

Other posts in this series will include:

  • Reviews and Recognition as a Tool to Avoid Staff Burnout
  • Goal Setting Takes on New Importance as Job Responsibilities Shift
  • The Performance-Review Journey Will Continue to Evolve

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