4 key thrusts that keep Yishun Health’s hiring and staff welfare thriving

A deeper focus on manpower, intelligence, case management, and logistics – these aspects are what power the team at Yishun Health to achieve more every day.

Yishun Health (YH) is a healthcare institution situated in the north of Singapore, as a part of the National Healthcare Group. It currently takes care of about 700,000 residents, with a projected growth to about 800,000 by 2020.

At the 10th annual edition of HR Excellence Awards, Singapore in 2022, YH was a proud winner of the gold award for Best Response to COVID-19. In a catch-up with HRO, we hear how a deeper focus on manpower, intelligence, case management, and logistics kept the institution going through the toughest of times when the pandemic struck.

Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs and lows of your people strategy?

The COVID-19 pandemic was a period of disruption and uncertainties. YH was one of the public healthcare institutions that stepped up to the challenge. Staff had to operate out of their comfort zones and normalcy. However, with the whole of healthcare battling at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, YH HR focused on ensuring we have sufficient manpower, minimising the possibility of infection, and providing welfare. Everyone kept an open mind, fostered a strong sense of camaraderie, and explored new work collaborations. For example, when the hospital had to do daily and rostered routine testing, many of our backend administration staff volunteered to be swabbers to augment the swabbing team.

Despite the lack of face-to-face interactions, staff were cognisant that it was important to remain connected, and continued to participate actively in virtual town halls and staff activities.

Q How did the HR team identify and align the business & employee needs, and craft this perfect solution?

To keep the hospital running during the pandemic, manpower sufficiency was critical in hiring, and protecting our staff or staff welfare. A hospital command centre (HCC) chaired by our chairman, medical board, and chief operating officer was established, driving four main thrusts:

  • S1-Manpower,
  • S2-Intelligence,
  • S3-Case Management, and
  • S4-Logistics.

With HCC’s support, we identified 12 critical ‘people’ dimensions that HR could take on under policy, monitoring and reporting, manpower, staff welfare, and communications. We attended the daily HCC meetings to report manpower and staffing statuses, give inputs or solutions according to the on-the-ground situations and execute management decisions.

Having an open mindset and teamwork were also critical, especially for the implementation of massive exercises such as the rostered routine testing, swabbing, and vaccination.

Q Could you share the results that your strategy has delivered – be it on the business, HR, or people side?

There were many silver linings from the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, a new job scheme, Patient Care Officers (PCO), seeded by our chief operating officer and chief nurse was borne out of necessity to supplement the nursing teams that lacked manpower. Together with HR, the scheme was implemented successfully and today we have a team of about 60 PCOs who provide non-clinical patient care duties. To operationalise the mandatory swabbing and vaccination for staff while observing the safe distancing measures, HR also developed an in-house IT portal within a short turnaround time for registration, monitoring and consolidation of reports.

In addition, many of our office backend staff stepped forward as volunteers to support the swabbing team and contact tracing team. As an organisation, we have emerged as a much stronger and united team. 

What is your message to all the stakeholders who have supported you in this journey?

It was gratifying for the HR team to partner and journey with our stakeholders through this COVID-19 pandemic.

It was not easy, but armed with an adaptable mindset, we were able to calibrate ourselves and be an effective HR partner to the frontline units.

As a whole, we are glad that together with our stakeholders, we emerged as a much stronger and more resilient team. 

Q What are you most excited about when you think about the future of HR?

COVID-19 has changed the world; the way we work and live has also changed as a result of this pandemic. With the prevailing internet and a more IT-savvy generation of workers, the virtual world will become more prevalent at work.

Along with this, HR will face new frontiers – a different definition of work success and productivity compared to the traditional ones, the demand for employees to be engaged continuously, and retaining a highly mobile workforce. 

Images / Yishun Health

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices – head over to our Winning Secrets’ section!

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