September 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 271


September 27, 2021

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#TimesUp for the Healthcare Industry? Not If You Use the Frenzy to Make Meaningful Culture Change

As #MeToo and #TimesUp initiatives sweep the nation, the healthcare industry should pay attention.

Recent nationwide media attention on sexual harassment in healthcare, coupled with stressful work environments, means healthcare employers have their share of workplace issues. However, healthcare employers have a unique opportunity to make meaningful culture change happen now – both in the context of sexual harassment and beyond. So what can employers do?

  • Use this national dialogue to make your company the employer of choice. Engage leadership in a discussion about how and why your organization can benefit from this movement. If there is ever a time to demand professionalism in all aspects of the workplace, from the operating room to caregiver interactions, it is now.

  • Get out into the field. Cascade down the message that your organization is focused on a renewed culture.

  • Do not limit #MeToo discussions to employee-employee interactions. Broaden the discussion to include harassment between patients and employees and general workplace culture.

  • Use the #MeToo movement to drive home basic respect and courtesy in the workplace. If you raise your voice, you lose the battle. If you raise your voice or otherwise behave poorly and someone has it on tape, you may lose your job.

  • Lead from the top. Create an environment where employees know that if they have concerns, those concerns will be addressed in a respectful and thorough manner. Do not brush concerns under the rug. Be a leader in proactive culture setting.

  • Use this movement to enhance the patient experience. Taking these steps to engage your workforce and train across all levels will enhance the patient experience.

  • Use this movement to enhance the manager’s experience. Strong managers are approachable, patient, and good communicators. Encourage effective, early performance management so managers free up their time to build a culture of good performers.

  • Retaining the “best of the best” workforce is critical to patient care services and the ability to compete in an industry full of change. Top providers, clinicians, nurses, and researchers demand a positive workplace environment.

  • Provide physicians with strong management tools. Unlike other industries, healthcare employers often face non-traditional supervisory issues where physicians and other practitioners do not consider themselves a “supervisor” but, when it comes to harassment in the workplace, they may be viewed that way under the law.

While the laws regarding workplace harassment have not changed, the sheer number of those who speak out, the volume with which they do it, and the audience they reach is changed forever. Get ahead of this movement.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 65

About this Author

 Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Sarah R. Skubas, Associate, Litigation Attorney, discrimination, harassment

Sarah R. Skubas is an Associate in the Hartford, Connecticut, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice is focused on employment litigation, preventive counseling and labor relations.

Ms. Skubas defends employers against claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour violations and state and federal FMLA violations. She also assists employers in providing preventive counseling, preparing employee handbooks and policies and procedures, advising on such personnel matters as hiring and firing, performance management, internal investigations and...

Margaret Strange, Jackson Lewis, alternative billing arrangement attorney, employment litigation lawyer, EEOC law, sex discrimination legal counsel

Margaret (Peggy) J. Strange is a Principal in the Hartford, Connecticut, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is also the firm’s National Client Practice Leader.

Ms. Strange joined Jackson Lewis in 1996. She has a broad area of practice and experience within the firm. Ms. Strange manages national, regional and local client relationships, looking for new and innovative ways to add value and build strategic partnerships with clients with a focus on predictability, strategy and alternative billing arrangements.