Seligman says an HR executive's job is to consider strategic issues from the HR perspective and share that with the C-suite. "I don't think it's a matter of a CEO 'not getting it.' It's a matter of a CEO not seeing it and trying to achieve the same ends through other means," he says. "If the HR function itself isn't capable of acting at the strategic level, then issues of alignment or organizational changes become issues for operational managers. Recruitment functions become decentralized to the clinical function where the recruitment is a concern, so patient services departments become the primary movers of nurse recruiting, instead of HR."
Because healthcare HR has been lagging in areas such as metrics and process improvement, Colling says some CEOs are bringing in HR outsiders from other industries. That outsider, Colling says "may have been in a setting where HR and everybody else had a much higher expectation that you quantify all of your programs, do the studies and the analytics, and that you are used to coming to the table with the analytics in hand."
Colling says those outsiders quickly learn that healthcare HR is not like making widgets. "It is much more complex. There are competing hierarchies. Particularly where I work, you have a public obligation, you have an educational obligation, you have an economic obligation to be efficient, you have a patient obligation. There are some areas in which we have a lot to learn and there are other areas where we are doing fine and we are unique."